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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/24/11

U.S. Backs Japan In Looming Confrontation With Russia

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While Maehara was in Moscow the chief of staff of the Russian Presidential Executive Office informed him that the events on the February 7th Northern Territories Day, including Prime Minister Kan's comments on the occasion, "could not but meet with an adequate reaction on the Russian side."

On the day of the envenomed and ill-fated meeting of the two countries' foreign ministers, a Russian commentary appeared on a major news site entitled "Russia to boost Kuril defense to ward off war," which stated in part:

"Russia's unresolved conflict with Japan over the Kuril Islands, which has been simmering since WWII, may reach a boiling point now that Russian authorities are set to go ahead with their plan to build up the disputed territory's defense potential.

"The plan, unveiled by President Dmitry Medvedev and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as part of a comprehensive development program for Russia's Pacific Coast, envisages, among other things, the deployment of modern armaments to defend the country's eastern borders against a hypothetical military attack."

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The article went on to say that "In conventional armaments, Japan now enjoys numerical supremacy over the Russian Far Eastern forces, and it also boasts a higher percentage of modern hardware in the navy, the air force, and the army." [6]

The author advocated the resumption of a permanent deployment of combat aircraft on Sakhalin Island northwest of the South Kurils and "a forward-based airfield" on the islands themselves with "a squadron of jet fighters on standby." 

Using the expression si vis pacem, para bellum (if you wish peace, prepare for war), the writer concluded his piece by reflecting: "All these plans to reinforce the Kuril Islands' defense potential should be translated into reality so as to discourage the most radical of Japanese politicians from contemplating regaining the possession of the South Kuril Islands through the use of military force."

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On February 15 Feng Shaolei, professor at and dean of the School of Advanced International and Area Studies at the East China Normal University was interviewed by a Russian news outlet and said:

"Certain changes have...taken place in the [East Asian] region in recent times, with the main one being the U.S. 'comeback in Asia.' In my view, U.S. military strategy is the key to understanding the current situation in the region, whether we talk about the possibility of building a defense system in the region or about the resolution of the Kuril conflict." [7]

On February 19 Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, also minister in charge of Northern Territories issues, visited Hokkaido to inspect the South Kuril Islands. Before he began his two-day trip he stated:

"The question of the Northern Territories is the problem of not only former residents of these islands, but also of the whole Japanese people. I would like to heighten attention to this problem with the Japanese public."

During his stay he said, "Japan's claims for the Northern Territories could have been much louder if only the people of Japan realized how close to them the islands are."

Foreign Minister Maehara viewed the island from a plane in December and Prime Minister Kan is also planning to inspect them from Hokkaido in the near future.

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On February 21 the American ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where his "attention was drawn to the recent statement made by officials with the U.S. Department of State and of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, which expressed support for Japan's territorial claims to Russia," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its official website. [8]

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry added:

"We drew Mr. Beyrle's attention to recent statements made by officials of the US State Department and the US embassy in Moscow, in which they expressed their support for Japan's territorial claims to Russia. In this respect the Foreign Ministry reiterated Russia's categorical and unwavering and unchanged position regarding its sovereignty over the South Kuril Islands." [9]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:
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