A promising trend in relations between Japan and the Russian Far East has been put on ice by the coronavirus pandemic. As soon as the health emergency is under control, Tokyo should be bold in resuming ties with the region that is Japan’s closest geographic neighbor.
In 2019, Japan’s involvement in the Russian energy sector increased significantly, most notably with the purchase by a Japanese consortium of a 10% stake in Russia’s Arctic LNG-2 project. The Abe administration evidently hopes that these new investments will bring benefits, both in terms of energy economics, and as a means of furthering Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ambition to settle Japan’s territorial dispute with Russia. In both respects, the Japanese leadership risks disappointment.
A roundup of the most significant news stories from Japan reported in the first half of September 2019.