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Game of Thrones: Russia & Japan Make Nice Over Disputed Islands


Fact: Russia and Japan never formally signed a peace treaty ending World War II. The two countries still dispute the ownership of the Kuril islands, an archipelago north of Japan which Russia annexed after the war.

Well, earlier this week, Shinzo Abe met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. It was the first time a Japanese prime minister had made the trip in over ten years. Pleasant things were said, the WSJ reports:

“We both agreed that it is abnormal that we don’t have a peace treaty 67 years after the end of the World War II,” said a statement from the two leaders, released Monday after a summit meeting here. […]

“Striking a peace treaty is important for us to further strengthen economic partnerships,” Mr. Abe said at a news conference. Mr. Putin said closer economic ties between the two nations “would benefit us the most when seeking the peace treaty.”

Though the territorial issue remains unresolved, Moscow and Tokyo talked about strengthening trade ties and vowed to increase cooperation on regional security issues—something Japan has so far not been able to accomplish, despite repeated attempts, with China and South Korea. Overall, it’s only a modest move toward warmer relations between the two powers, but it’s nevertheless notable: both countries seem to be driven by an interest in balancing against an increasingly antagonistic China.

[Putin and Abe photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Atanu Maulik

    That’s why ‘distant’ maritime powers always had an advantage in the quest for global dominance. They didn’t have to contend with other great powers close by.

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