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The School of International Regional Studies is a research and educational centre seeking to revive international regional studies as an academic discipline in Russia. The department’s world-class professors train the next generation of regional studies specialists while developing an increasingly prestigious research school.
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The desirable status for Japan and Russia, according to GNT, is an alliance – more constructive for the internal development of both countries than a state of complete rupture of relations due to the Japanese government's support of US policy towards Russia.
Since the interview took place after February 7, when nationwide rallies have been held annually in Japan since 1981 for the return of the northern territories (as the four Kuril Islands belonging to Russia are called in Japan), GNT explained her personal and professional attitude to the possibility of resolving the territorial issue raised by Japan.
For the constructive negotiations, it is necessary to change the views of the Japanese side about Russia's desire to return the islands and the conditions for Japan could receive them. In Russia, the desire to give up their territory will not arise even in the distant historical perspective. Japan will be able to get the islands only in case of the military defeat of Russia by Japan and its allies, which will also never happen. Therefore, Japan's claims are discussable only in the context of Japan’s involvement in joint economic activities with Russia on these Russian islands and in the adjacent waters.
In general, GNT considers the necessity to normalize the Japan-Russia dialogue, understanding its strategic importance, first, for Japan, as its partnership relations with Russia guarantee mitigation of the risks of unsettled concerns with China and North Korea. And she sees the instruments of such normalization in economic diplomacy, trade and economic cooperation, as well as information counteraction to anti-Russian discourse.
The conversation gathered more than 50,000 views in a week. Among the comments were a call "Give the Kuril Islands back!" and a statement that "Russia and Japan will never be able to become allies," but mostly support and interest in the position expressed by GNT regarding the future of relations between Japan and Russia. Before the conversation, GNT interviewed Yukihisa Oikawa. See the fragments below, the full version is being prepared for publication.
Photos: announcement of a special edition of the program "Russian Professor on the future of Japan-Russia relations in "Y. Oikawa The Wisdom LIVE Channel", and from the studio.
GNT – Why did the Ukrainian conflict start, in your opinion?
YO – ...until 2022, military operations took place in the Donbas for 8 years. What I have seen is that the Ukrainian army is killing Ukrainians. This was essentially genocide. Diplomatic efforts were made to stop this, negotiations were constantly underway. The Minsk Agreements were adopted. But Ukraine immediately violated them. In the end, President Putin launched a special military operation on February 24, 2022. That is, I see the start of today's situation not in 2022, but earlier, at least in 2014 and even earlier, in 2004-2005. Next, we need to understand who is behind this, who started what we have today. My answer is US neoconservatives who like wars and who are fomenting them all over the world. Here they have chosen this region among different geographical points. My conclusion, which I outlined in the last book published at the end of 2022, is that the goal of US strategic plans has always been not Ukraine, but Russia, which they want to destroy by dividing into several small states controlled by US with the ability to use Russian natural resources. But reality prevented these plans. Germany started a rapprochement with Russia. If Germany approved the launch of Nord Stream 2 in 2021, all European countries would get closer to Russia due to the energy cooperation. In this situation, only US would have problems. The united Germany and Russia together represent a power that has no rival in the world in terms of economic and military potential. US didn't like it the most. US could not allow Germany and Russia to cooperate in any way. To destroy the Nord Stream, here and now, and to ignite the conflict, here and now – US had no other solution, in my opinion. And I think that in the long term, US neoconservatives saw Ukrainian Nazis as the best weapon, whom they began to prepare for such a role since 1991. The tactics of the neoconservatives are the same everywhere – invading the country and changing the regime. For this purpose, the Ukrainian Nazis are very convenient…
GNT – Both in 2004-2005 and in 2014, Japan stuck to its position, preferring not to destroy relations with Russia, despite the pressure. Why is there such a sudden change of attitude towards Russia in 2022?
YO – It is Kisida's choice.
GNT – If Abe Shinzo had been the leader, this could not have happened, right?
YO – Of course. Abe, when he was prime minister, valued relations with Russia very much. And it was right, in my opinion. Of course, he maintained relations with US, but he considered relations with Russia important, so he kept the balance very successfully. There are almost no Japanese leaders who can maintain such a balance, there were several in the past, and Abe was among them…
GNT – By the way, who would want to kill Abe? There was funeral, adequate to his status, even too expensive, and there was no adequate investigation.
YO – There are different versions. There's probably a group behind this…Or some country… GNT – That is, we can conclude that Russia-Japan relations have almost no future if the country's leader does not change, right?
YO – As long as Kishida is prime minister, there is no future. There is no future for Japan-Russia relations, but there is no future in the life of Japanese people either. The economy is getting worse and worse… Many western leaders are forced to maintain relations with US, but are trying to find ties with Russia. Among all western countries, the only leader who does not think about anything at all is the Japanese Kishida ...
GNT – Maybe activity in the Internet and in the economy, can be a tool for improving Japan-Russia relations? Can you consider the change in the public opinion of the Japanese as a result of your work on the Internet?
YO – Opinion is already changing. A year ago, the Japanese thought that Russia was to blame, and Ukraine should be helped. I said the opposite even before the military conflict began. And there was a continuous criticism of me. But now they often write: "I thought Russia was wrong, but listening to your broadcasts, I learned the truth". And the number of such comments is growing. A year ago, there were three of us, we were called the "very bad analysts". But now we have become "good analysts".
GNT – Is it because the situation in the conflict has changed?
YO – No, the Japanese do not know anything about the current state of the conflict, this information is not brought to them. Zelensky is a bad leader – this has become a common opinion.
GNT – Where and who explains it? All Japanese channels copy CNN. In Japan, they don't quote, say, Fox News.
YO – Yes, the Japanese do not know Fox News. But among them there are people who see Zelensky and begin to draw independent conclusions. In addition, this is the result of working in the Internet, including my work – the opinion that sounds on the Internet makes the Japanese think and doubt. The Internet has changed, it provides more information.
GNT – But on Japanese television there are "experts on Russia", listening to whom, I am always surprised at their level of qualification and biases.
YO – Others are not allowed on television. They invite only those who will say what is necessary. That ‘experts’ don't have any position of their own, they just say what is expected of them…But no matter what they say, the influence of Japanese media on Japanese society is practically nonexistent. No one watches TV or reads newspapers.
GNT – Yomiuri has the highest circulation in the world…
YO – No one reads it. It is massively printed, distributed – this is a Japanese tradition. Television also has a low popularity rating. Television programs survive on advertising, right? Now Japanese manufacturers do not invest in television advertising, because there are few viewers. All manufacturers have moved advertising online....
GNT – Why is there such a reaction in Japan to the conflict in Europe, but there was no reaction to the events in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan ...? Are you from Asia?
YO – Japanese don't think of themselves as Asians. In European countries, people have the idea that they are Europeans. Perhaps residents of other Asian countries have an idea that they are Asians. But the Japanese do not. The Japanese are on their own. The Japanese believe that the Japanese are Japanese.
GNT – So the Japanese are "Others"? It's a difficult choice, no? The world order is changing, Asia is becoming its center, the world majority lives here. Not in Europe, not in the US, but in Asia, where Japan is located. Do the Japanese think about their place in this new world order?
YO – Modern Japanese people don't think about it. They used to think, but now they don't. They think only of themselves. They don't even think about their country, and they don't even think about Asia at all. Here I see a big problem as a Japanese. The problem of Japan's future and Japan's survival in the future. In the world, in Asia, of which Japan is undoubtedly a part, Japan feels like a separate element. This is a dangerous sense of self…