Russia-Japan Kurils Dispute and Asian Hedging

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Given the timing of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Kuril Islands, it’s hard to see it as anything other than an intentional effort to destabilize Japan, and particularly Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Coming in the aftermath of Tokyo’s standoff with Beijing over the Senkaku Islands, it reinforces the perception of a weak Japan unable to make its territorial claims respected. The fact that this was a peripheral and largely frozen dispute that had until now not seriously affected improving bilateral relations adds to that impression. The move also comes in the aftermath of Russia’s refusal to support South […]

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