Russia warns Japan on ‘openly unfriendly positions’

Jan 7, 2023
Global economic isolation of Russia. Sanctions concept. Glass Dome

Moscow has now warned that Japan’s ‘openly unfriendly positions’ make delayed peace treaty talks impossible. Australia has some connections with those ‘unfriendly positions.’

They include joining in sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Sanctions are an ugly business and Moscow is right to react against them.

They can be as destructive to a nation’s economy as bombing raids even if there are no human casualties. Russia has been able to cope with most of the sanctions it has suffered.

But Japan’s reaction to US-led pre-war sanctions against the export of oil and steel industry materials it needed led directly to the 1941-45 war in the Pacific.

Those sanctions had been a major political issue in Australia with the trade unions strongly opposed to the conservative government in Canberra’s approval of export of iron ore and pig iron.

Even more relevant was Canberra’s struggle to have Japan territorially punished after that war.

Sir Percy Spender, Australia’s representative at the 1951 San Francisco peace treaty talks, fought hard to have Japan stripped of the same territories that Tokyo claims today.

In the peace treaty that emerged from those talks it is stated unambiguously that Japan ‘renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands’. Japan today tries to get round that problem by saying that the Kurile Islands it claims (Etorufu and Kunashiri, both close to Hokkaido) are not Kurile Islands.

They are part of a ‘made in Japan’ entity called ‘the Northern Territories’ which Japan allegedly never renounced and which Moscow must return if there is ever to be a peace treaty between them.

Canberra supports Tokyo in this claim even though it was originally responsible for the loss of that territory. Presumably that unexplained reversal of position is part of the ‘rules-based global order’ we are now supposed to embrace.

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