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Japan has own interest in the Arctic!

In recent years Japan shows big and constantly growing interest to the Arctic. The matter is not about polar station on Spitsbergen at all … The professor of Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo Peter Podalko told us about what interests Japan in the Arctic, what plans on penetration to the north here are discussed. He teaches at the faculty of international policy, economy and communications, is the author of books on the Russian-Japanese relations.

- If to remember the ancient times … Did the Japanese swim to the north?


- They didn't swim and didn't go. The matter is that the Japanese were forbidden not only to swim to the north, but also still anywhere. The period of closing of the country ended only in the middle of the nineteenth century and that under pressing from the outside. Otherwise they also lived in a pleasant solitude … By the way, it was impossible to departure not only from Japan, but also to come back too. It was considered that the person will become impregnated with harmful ideas abroad therefore it isn't necessary that he returned with them home.

- When there was a real interest to the North?

- After the country opening for the outside world the Japanese actively began to master it. But not in the northern direction! After all, the climate was not proper, plus nobody saw special need for it then. Somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century in Japan certain enthusiasts of travel, campaigns to the north, run and so on began to appear. There were people who visited both the Arctic and Antarctic. Not so long ago I was present at a meeting with Animal Ishikawa – he is known in Japan that became the first Japanese who has visited two poles: both the Northern and Southern. These people rivet big attention on themselves therefore, the interest to “northern” subject grows in the country.

- That is, now this subject is popular in Japan?


- Certainly. There was never any special program in this respect in the country, but interest sharply increased when it became clear that it is necessary to reflect on the resources necessary for further development of the country seriously.

That fact is very actively discussed that resources in the Arctic become more and more available because of global warming. And this subject here is very well developed. Japanese speak and write on this subject much. I will remind that the corresponding international protocol was signed not somewhere, but in the Japanese city Kyoto! Thread of reasoning is the following: ices thaw, so, it is the time to think of production of rich natural resources which were inaccessible earlier.

- But Japan has no sector in the Arctic.

- Quite right, therefore they went some other way. Not only Japan, but also China and Korea have no direct exit to the Arctic, but established very good relations with the northern countries. Japan actively interacts with Denmark and China with Norway. Here is the interesting fact: the biggest Danish embassy is not somewhere, but in Beijing! And the staff is approximately twice more than the staff of the Danish embassy in the USA …

- Does Japan hope to get access to resources in exchange for the latest technologies?

- There is a task to be fixed in the north and it is obvious. Japan, as we know, is poor in resources, but is rich on technical shifts in the most different areas. And they constantly lobby a question that have to have access to minerals not only those countries which have the territory in the north, but also those who is able to get these resources.

Remember, even in Soviet period the Japanese actively delivered the equipment to us: big Kato excavators and the pipe layers “Komatsu”, so they have an experience in this respect. The Japanese already now are ready to participate in the development of richness of the Arctic actively; if it doesn't turn out independently, then through Norway. They very attentively trace everything that occurs in this macro region. For example, the agreement of Russia and Norway caused very great interest here.

It is necessary to tell that one of the most popular subjects of Japanese media on our subject, except for policy, of course, is the relationship of Russia and its neighbours – the northern countries. Not less the Japanese are excited by our plans on the development of richness of the North. It is written about it regularly and in many mass media.

- What sort of work is printed?

- Generally it is journalism and pseudoscientific opuses and not only on Japanese, but also in English languages. There are even special structures, for example, National institute of polar researches. It issues various bulletins, publications on polar subject. In 2010 the Japanese-Norwegian seminar on problems of development of the Arctic passed in Tokyo. It is possible to hear such judgment: the Japanese have no icebreaking fleet therefore, so what sense to argue on it?

But the ice breakers aren't necessary to them – they have other interest. They try to understand: will we realize the plans on Trans-Siberian Railway and Northern Sea Route development somehow? They think of it as perfectly understand that in this situation to count on the sector in the Arctic is simply impossible. Here is their friendship with the northern countries. On this subject there was article in 2011 following the results of conference in Tromso. Expert Akiyama wrote on the subject “Japanese Interests in the Arctic Pool”.

- It turns out that they study a situation both on a land and on the sea.

- Yes, this interest is diverse. There is a Centre for research of northern and northeast Asia at university Tohoku. The archaeologists and ethnographers come to us. But I think that hardly similar divisions are created only for archaeology development … Let's note still that fact that Japan is very interested in Yakutia. Quite close contacts were at the time of presidency of Mikhail Nikolaev in the republic who interpreted the concept of the sovereignty very widely … Specific projects on mining of Yakutia were discussed also, but they didn't reach a practical stage.

There is one more interesting moment mentioning the policy of Japan in the Arctic. The special attention is paid to development of contacts with Canada. Japan provided to Canadians the right of visa-free entrance to the territory of the country almost to the first; the Americans still have no such right. The reason of such close cooperation is the plans on expansion of the Pacific partnership. It is a question of a zone of duty-free trade in the Pacific Ocean. Japanese look at Canada as the chief assistant in creation of conditions favourable to them. And after all Canada has the extent of border in the Arctic second after us. Draw the conclusions by yourself!

Viewed : 2606   Commented: 0

Author: Vladimir Kuzmenkin

Publication date : 07 May 2013 01:00

Source: The world and we

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