In the modern era, Japan has always had a terse and at times difficult relationship with Russia. The Russo-Japanese war of 1904/5 was a humiliating defeat for Russia which played a part in fomenting the Russian Revolution of 1905.
During the 1940s, Russia opposed Japan although the Pacific theatre of the Second World War was largely dominated by the United States and of course in China by Mao’s partisans.
It was after 1945 that the Kuril Islands were transferred from the vanquished Empire of Japan to the victorious Soviet Union. In the decades since, Tokyo has demanded that Japanese sovereignty be restored to the islands, a demand which due to America becoming a post-war ally of Japan, took on wider implications during the Cold War.
Although the islands are still disputed, it seems that the current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin have a good working relationship, something made more intriguing by the fact that apart from South Korea, Japan is America’s last meaningful ally in the Asia-Pacific region.
By all accounts, Abe’s recent visit to the US was a success. He and Donald Trump were all smiles on the golf course.
According to Abe, he spoke with Trump about a wide range of issues including anti-Russian sanctions, Iran, Syria and Donbass, issues not directly related to US-Japanese relations.
Abe is quoted by RT as saying, “These issues cannot be resolved if President Putin and President Trump do not maintain direct dialogue, can they.”
This demonstrates that not only does Abe respect the Russian President but that he offered wise counsel to a US President besieged by his own ideologically hell-bent anti-Russian deep state.
As is being reported by The Japan Times, Trump also encouraged Abe to boost ties and dialogue with Putin and supported Tokyo’s friendly relations with Moscow.
President Putin for his part has remained positive about working with Japan on a peaceful solution to the disputing islands. In December of last year when meeting with Abe, Putin said, “these islands, instead of a bone of contention between Russia and Japan, can, on the contrary, become something uniting”.
With Japan’s government working on increasingly good terms with historic regional rival Russia, one must remark on the irony of a Japanese Cold War ally to America, offering POTUS far sounder advice on Russia than many of Trump’s own advisers and fellow Republicans.