USSR-JAPAN: INCREASED ACRIMONY

Created: 9/8/1998

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

t Special Analysis

USSR-JAPAN: Increased Acrimony

Relation* between the USSR and Japan have deteriorated Conflicting security policies pursued more vigorously by new leaders in Tokyo and Stsecsw are the heart of the problem. Both eidee have reason to take same of the current heat out of the relaticnehip, and public manifestations of the problef. my subside in the near tern. so, the abrasiveness that has characterized relations sinoe the invaeion of Afghanistan and the likelihood that the new leaders will not make major substantive concessions stronglythat the impasee will persiet for the foreseeable future.

Soviet Threats

Moscow attacked the new emphasis on defenseevival oft reacted to the "aircraft carrier" remark by denouncing Nakasone by name and by indicating that Japan couldarget for nuclear attack,

While Nakasone was in Washington, the USSR made public its earlier INF proposal to move someoof range of Western Europe but within range of Japan. The Soviets have since toldofficials thatn East Asia are not directed at Japan bur, are detersive- weaponsjiade necessaryS bases in South Korea and Japan.

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The threat to transferrom Europe, however, has made both the Japanese Government and public more aware of the INF issue. The Japanese have asked for close consultation with the US on the INF talks and are increasingly interestedialogue with NATO.

Tokyo believes the Soviet campaign is designed to intimidate Japan, foment discord in us-Japanese relations and stimulate popular and business pressure against the Prime Minister. Public opinion polls indicate many Japanese are worried by Nakasone's tough stand on defense but there has been nearly universal resentment of Moscow' heavy-handed threats. These threats have reinforced Nakasone's firm approach to relations with the USSR, and he has made clear that he will not be bullied.

The tough Soviet rhetoric also is aimed at arousing :ear of Japanese militarism in other Asian countries, particularly China. In addition to preventing the establishmentormal security relationship among China, Japan, and the US, the USSR is trying to undermine current understandings among the three powers on security issues.

The Soviet effort toedge between the Japanese and Chinese has not been particularly effective Last month Nakasone sent an emissary to Beijing togood relations and discuss Japan's diplomatic and defense posture. The visit was generally successful, with the Chineseimited defensive buildup and stronger US ties. Publicly and privately, the Chinese continue to express understanding of Tokyo's view of the Soviet threat.

The recent increase in tension stemming fromsecurity policies is taking placeackdrop of continued acrimony over the so-called "Northern Territories." Nakasone has made it clear that there can be no major improvement in either political or economic relations until all four of the disputed islands are returned to Japan, something that the USSR has consistently refused to do.

g a Dialogue

Despite the increasing tension, both sides have displayed an interest in maintaining contacts. Nakasone believes it is imperative to keep channels ofopen to Japan's principal adversary. Moscow hopes to entice Japanese businessmen to put pressure on Tokyo to relax adherer.ee to Western restrictions on trading with the USSR. H

in mid-February Fisheries Minister Kamentsev became the first Soviet minister to make an official visit to Japan since the invasion of Afghanistan. In lateember business delegation visited Moscow. Little substantive progress was made during thesebut Soviet-Japanese dialogue will continue.

The Japanese will hose the annual Soviet-Japanese administrative-level talks in early April. Another Japanese business delegation will visit the USSR in June.

Outlook

The public controversy over security issues may abate somewhat in the near future. Conservative leaders in Tokyoeries of elections in the next few months and believe the current degree of public anxiety over security policy is not to their advantage. esult, Nakasone hasc^us on more politically rewarding domestic issues.

Moreover, the Japanese are interested in preventing the relationship from sliding further. The Sovietsan interest in involving Japanese industry in trade and Siberian development, and they may^tone down their rhetoric to improve the atmosphere. H

Nonetheless, there is little prospect for anyimprovement in"bilateral relations. Moscow is likely toard line against Japan throughout the region as long as Tokyo maintains its curmnt. policies on defense and the Northern Territories.

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