Where Tokyo, there is also torn
Asian imaginations of Biden turned to him "the back place".
The USA with allies continues to build the coalition of counteraction of Russia. In Asia, besides India, lay hopes for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Meetings of the president Joe Biden with leaders of the countries entering into ASEAN are planned for May 12-13. The purpose of the summit is to use the organization against Russia and China, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.
Allies of the USA work in the same direction. The prime minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, the European Council president Charles Michel and the head of European Commission Ursula von der Leien just announced expansion of cooperation in safety, promised to press further to Russia. With sanctions at Tokyo everything goes according to the plan, but in the field of power communications with Russia there are problems. The dependence on the Russian hydrocarbons is less, than at Germany, but also Japanese aren't ready to tear these communications.
Back in the past
From among the countries of Group seven (G7), expressed recently the intention "not to allow a victory" Russia in Ukraine, Japan – only which can "be compared" to Germany on duration of occupation of Russian lands. An end only in 1945 when Japan lost forty years' control over the southern part of Sakhalin Island and all chain of the Kuril Islands was put to "record".
Communications of Japan with Russia even got stronger if to consider a contribution of the Japanese companies, including state, in development of oil and gas resources of the shelf of Sakhalin. The Sakhalin-I and Sakhalin-II projects were as a result created. The Japanese fishermen get access to a special economic zone of the Russian Federation.
In the last three and a half decades of administration of the Japanese prime ministers replacing each other tried to hold the bilateral relations with Moscow "afloat". The peace treaty without which the relations, anyway, developed, since 1956 was the main subject of dialogue for Tokyo. But there was a wish bigger. Accepting the idea of the contract, the parties represented ultimate goals of the agreement differently.
For Moscow it was important to achieve recognition of results of World War II from Tokyo, to attract the Japanese investments and technologies. For Japan on the first place and there was a question of "return of the Northern territories" lost following the results of that war which the USSR ended defeat of Kvantunsky army in China and having released the North of the Korean peninsula and also Sakhalin and all Kuriles.
Anyway, dialogue under the peace treaty kind of also didn't stop, but the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the government of the prime minister Kisida put the end to this story. Russia suspended the visa-free exchange adjusted at Gorbachev. Within this scheme the groups of Japanese were allowed to visit the Southern Kurils without execution of visas.
Abe what partners
Till September, 2020 Abe's administration for seven years and eight months pursued interaction policy. For two terms of being the prime minister (2006-07 and 2012-20) Abe met Vladimir Putin of 27 times. In 2019 he told: "Japan - the partner to whom you can trust".
Recently the parties "exchanged" expulsions of diplomats, the Japanese authorities accused Russia of death of the civilian population in Ukraine, having called it "war crime". Nothing unexpected if to consider dependence of Japanese on the USA. Moscow answered with the fact that it accused Tokyo of "support of neo-Nazis" in Ukraine.
"We confirmed need of continuation of collaboration for the purpose of introduction of tough sanctions against Russia and strengthening of support of Ukraine", - the prime minister Kisida to whom closed entry into Russia said. The Russian Foreign Ministry blacklisted Kisida and 62 more Japanese citizens. Entry into Russia is forbidden to them is termless.
In 2022 Tokyo excluded Russia from a most favored nation treatment in trade and forbade export more than 300 goods. "Stop list" included about 500 Russians, including the top management, and about 170 organizations, including nine banks.
Russia not only sanctions, but also forcing of tension in the Far East disturb. So far a political "Square of safety" (QUAD), as a part of the USA, Australia, Japan and also India, is supposed to strengthen in the military-political relation at the expense of the union of AUKUS (USA, Great Britain and Australia) which will be, according to Beijing, "to provoke arms race in the region".
Estimates of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister I. Morgulov under the name "About the Future of the Russian-Japanese Relations" were published. It was noted that Abe's administration "achieved significant progress in the relations between two countries", but Japan took steps for "dismantling of mutually beneficial cooperation", even prior to special operation.
The diplomat mentioned joint exercises which Japan and the USA stage in the Sea of Japan, warned that "Russia will take the answer-back measures for strengthening of the defense capability".
But if with the relations in the field of sanctions and questions of the military neighbourhood with alliance of the USA-Japan everything is clear, then in the field of oil and gas the confusion reigns.
Wait by the sea of oil
The refusal of supply of the Russian LNG in the short term will become a difficult task for EU countries. Such opinion was expressed by the Minister of Economics, trade and the industry of Japan Koichi Hagiuda. The head of the Japanese department also expressed opinion that if all countries of the G7, including Japan, refuse the Russian LNG, previously without having prepared alternative sources of deliveries of this resource, then world economy, including her energy sector, chaos threatens.
The oil and gas Sakhalin-II project was the largest the investment transaction of Japan in Russia. Leading companies, including Gazprom, Shell, Mitsui & Co., geographical advantages to LNG supply – all this did Russia by acquisition for the Japanese officials who are responsible for energy security. But Shell announced on February 28 an exit from the project. ExxonMobil began process of an exit of the Sakhalin-I project.
For Japan to follow the partners means to cause damage to economy and vanity. Not to follow – means to lose political tranquility. We will remind that Japan depends on import of 99.7% of oil, 97.8% of gas and 99.6% of coal.
In 2020 the country bought more than 74 million tons of LNG, about the fifth part of all volumes traded in the world. Even before accident on Fukushima Plant, about 24% of power production fell to the share of LNG. In March of this year the prices of the LNG traded on a spot grew by a quarter in comparison with February.
As a source of liquefied gas for Japan Russia takes the fifth place, delivering about 9% of all LNG. The main part of these deliveries are the share of long-term contracts of the Sakhalin-II project. Gas is received by eight Japanese companies at in advance stipulated prices. Mitsui share in the project makes 12.5%, at Mitsubishi Corp. - 10% of stocks. Japan in general receives about 60% of the LNG produced by the project.
Presumably, the Japanese shareholders can leave the project as it was made by the Shell company. But the chairman of the Japanese federation of business warned Masakadzu Tokur that expenses on the compensating purchases of LNG on a spot can sharply grow. It can also lead to growth of the world prices for gas. Moreover, the Hiroshima Gas company buys a half of gas from the Sakhalin-II project, and the prefecture Hiroshima is an electoral base of the prime minister Kisida.
Rest doesn't give also that the Japanese share in the project can be resold to the Chinese investor. The Mitsui & Co. trading house and parastatal JOGMEC also made the decision to invest in the Arctic LNG 2 project in which partners of the Russian side are also the Chinese companies. The share of Mitsui and Jogmec in this project makes 10%.
The care and thrift of Japan is known, especially in the relations with Russia. Unlike Germany, the country took long ago for the rule as much as possible to diversify sources of import of hydrocarbons. But even carefully verified strategy of diversification didn't give to Tokyo feeling of freedom from energy resources of Russia.
Within obligations assumed by the G7, Japan can refuse the Russian oil (4% of import of oil are the share of the Russian Federation) and also coal (11%), having besides stepped on the principles. In the oil Sakhalin-I project the share of the Japanese consortium SODECO created by the Ministry of Economics, trade and the industry of Japan together with Itochu and Marubeni, Inpex and Japex trading houses makes 30%.
Japan receives about 12% of oil extracted by a rennet "Sakhalin-I" that provides only about 1% of the Japanese import of oil. But the geography such is that delivery of the Sakhalin oil or LNG to Japan takes about two days, transportation of Middle Eastern oil demands about two weeks, American – about a month.
According to the White House, the joint statement of Russia and China on friendship made in February of this year during Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing confirms the growing threats and risks for the states of the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing commented on it: "The strategy of the USA in the Indo-Pacific region goes against trends of present time and doesn't serve the common and long-term interests of the countries of East Asia" — the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China I. Wang said in an interview to the South China Morning Post newspaper.
Japan is very important for Biden in terms of forming of partnership in the Indo-Pacific region. Washington highly appreciates influence of Tokyo both on India, and on the ASEAN countries. In the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, voices are distributed: "We have to "sweat" that Asia didn't become a hole in sanctions against Russia" (Masakhis Sato, the Chairman of the Committee of LDP on foreign affairs). The prime minister Kisida said in parliament that he "will continue to work" with the countries of Asia.
Participants in the US-ASEAN summit will discuss the prospects for cooperation in the new conditions, when Washington finally singled out Russia and China as opponents of the West. That is why the day before, Japanese leaders and Michel and von der Leyen, who came to them, somehow carried out preliminary work, talked about rising prices for raw materials, touched upon the topic of "freedom and openness" of the Indo-Pacific region, "threats" from North Korea, Russia and China, as well as the role of the EU in the region.
In other words, Biden's task is to invite ASEAN - the political core of what is called the Asia-Pacific region, to enter as a junior partner in a coalition aimed at Beijing and Moscow.
Prudence Is Needed
Under these conditions, ASEAN leaders will have to experience a powerful pressure. The organization is generally characterized by a restrained position in relation to the situation in Ukraine. On March 3, ASEAN foreign ministers called for a ceasefire in a statement but avoided direct mention of Russia. Only Singapore imposed sanctions against Moscow.
The US-ASEAN summit was planned in March, but was moved in order to make the event more massive. Nevertheless, Myanmar "fell out" due to the fact that there, the military is in power, who did not ask Washington for consent to this. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was unable to attend due to the May 9 presidential election.
Thus, delegations from Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand arrived in Washington. Of the ten members of the association, only Singapore has imposed sanctions against Russia so far. The attention of Americans to Indonesia should be special. The country is hosting the Group of 20 (G20) this year, where Biden would not like to see Vladimir Putin.
But it looks like "night fantasies" Biden will have to keep to himself.
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