« ocn 0710 | トップページ | 「黒船」グーグル、揺らぐ日本語 »

2009年7月11日 (土)

日露首脳会談 領土問題打開は腰を据えて

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 11, 2009)
Govt must try patiently to resolve N. isles row
日露首脳会談 領土問題打開は腰を据えて(7月11日付・読売社説)

It seems that the political environment both in Japan and Russia is not yet conducive for progress to be made in negotiations as tough as those aimed at resolving the territorial dispute over the four Russian-administered islands off Hokkaido.

On the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Group of Eight major nations in L'Aquila, Italy, Prime Minister Taro Aso held talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

When it came to the focal point of the disputed islands--Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and the Habomai island group, the Russian president stopped short of making any concrete proposal, simply stating that he was ready to examine every option with a "creative approach."

Medvedev had referred to a creative approach during the two leaders' previous meeting in February, in which he suggested he would bring up specific measures in their next meeting in Italy.

Some viewed the president's remark as mere rhetoric. As if supporting such a view, Medvedev's statement in Italy turned out to be peremptory.

In response, Aso told Medvedev that it would be difficult for Japan and Russia to build a partnership in the Asia-Pacific region if Russia was not prepared to strive for progress in the territorial dispute. We believe he was quite right to do so.


Medvedev weakened at home

As the reason why Russia found it difficult to present a concrete proposal on the disputed islands, Medvedev pointed to the recent passage at the Diet of a revised law declaring Japan's sovereignty over the islands.

The law is intended to enable the government to extend financial assistance to movements seeking the return of the four islands to Japan.

The Russian president said the law's description of the four islands as an "integral part of Japan" had prompted a fierce response in his country, notably in the State Duma parliament.

But Japan has long insisted that the islands are an integral part of Japan, both historically and in terms of international law.

Russia's economy is still in the doldrums. The number of unemployed people is rapidly increasing, and demonstrations have taken place in various parts of the country. The president's popularity rate has declined.

Such circumstances have weakened the president's political clout at home, presumably leaving him no choice but to give ground to hard-liners in the parliament.

The political situation in Japan is also believed to have affected the two leaders' talks. It cannot be denied that the Russian side took advantage of Japan's weakness, apparently concluding that little could be expected from negotiations with Aso, whose political foundation has been greatly shaken, as evidenced by the fact that even those within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are demanding he step down as prime minister.


Russia can't have it both ways

The Japanese government maintains the policy that if Russia acknowledges Japan's sovereignty over the four islands, it will be flexible in determining the timing and method of their return to Japan. The Japanese government has no choice other than to stick to this principle and patiently seek ways to break the impasse.

The government has been showing a positive stance toward the expansion of economic cooperation between the two countries with the hope of taking advantage of such a partnership to gain traction on the territorial row.

It may be necessary to continue trying to widen bilateral cooperation in fields that would benefit both sides, such as energy cooperation. But Japan must not allow a situation under which territorial disputes are left behind while progress is being made in economic cooperation between the two countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 11, 2009)
(2009年7月11日01時21分  読売新聞)


« ocn 0710 | トップページ | 「黒船」グーグル、揺らぐ日本語 »





« ocn 0710 | トップページ | 「黒船」グーグル、揺らぐ日本語 »