With the Russian government having assumed an increasingly aggressive posture regarding the country's territorial dispute with Japan in recent months, the question naturally arises, Why? Senior Russian leaders, including President Dmitry Medvedev and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, have broken with precedent and visited what the Russians call the Southern Kurils and what the Japanese label their Northern Territories. The Russian government has also announced plans to enhance the islands' socio-economic development and defenses. The escalating crisis led the counselor for European Affairs at the Japanese Foreign Ministry to characterize the Russian-Japanese relationship last week as being at its lowest point in decades.
A number of factors help explain Moscow's new course. To begin with, domestic political conditions in Russia and Japan create an environment favorable for confrontation. Since the mid-1990s, public opinion surveys have shown that Russian respondents have overwhelmingly opposed making any further major territorial concessions, whether it be to Japan or any other country. Russian leaders must therefore highlight their nationalist credentials as well as their unwillingness to make concessions regarding Russia's core national interests. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $11.99 monthly or $94.99/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Strategic Horizons: U.S. Must Be Prepared for Life After Putin, Even if Russia Isn’t
- Global Insights: In State of the Union, Obama Should Not Forget Asia
- Despite Tougher Policy, France’s Hollande Still Seeks Solid Russia Ties
- Global Insights: Calling Russia’s Bluff on Iran Nuclear Talks
- Diplomatic Fallout: No Shortage of Potential Work for International Peacekeepers in 2015