The Third Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum

Audience Questions

Charles B. Doleac: Thank you very much. The panel will take questions from the floor. You can address the questions to any one of the panelists, and if any of the panelists want to ask any of the other panelists a question, please feel free. If you will approach the mike, it's not necessary to identify yourself, but if you want to ask in Japanese, we would appreciate your bringing an interpreter with you.

Q: Japan Society of New Hampshire Member: A very brief question to Professor Kimura. Could you review the population structure of the islands in dispute, please?

A: Hiroshi Kimura: As I said previously, on these four islands, on one of which there are no Russian inhabitants, altogether on three islands, previously the Russians said, because there is no way for us to confirm on the Japanese side, but approximately 25,000 thousand civilian inhabitants, plus approximately one division of troops, which is supposed to be 10,000. However, as I also mentioned, the number has been decreasing. First of all, the number of troops has been reduced to 7,000. This was an official Russian pronouncement. Since that time we haven't heard anything less than that. Then when it comes to the civilian inhabitants, at one time I heard approximately 15,000, but even now less than that. And also, it was shocking, already in February of this year, NHK Television had the information that local Russian authorities decided a policy of limiting the numbers of inhabitants over there to 4,000 or 4,500. This is a deliberate effort, so that together with natural decrease, the numbers of people who are living on these islands are dramatically decreasing.

Q: Japan Society of New Hampshire Member: A question for Konstantin Sarkisov. Do you think it's possible, that paradoxically it might be possible, for an extreme right-wing government in Russia to be responsible for resolving the question, in the same way that it was only possible for President Nixon to normalize relationships with China? Is that possible? Perhaps we can leave out Zhirinovsky and deal with other possibilities.

A: Konstantin Sarkisov: I think it is a very interesting question, but....let me say that sometimes, Zhirinovsky also said that to a Japanese journalist, as far as I know - I was told by some Japanese journalists, "Let me come to power, and I will resolve this territorial question." Those were the words of Zhirinovsky. But I agree with Professor Kimura, that he is saying everything, from very extreme things. But personally I do not believe that the rightist forces, if they come to power in Russia, will solve this question. Once it might be done by Communists, and they did, partially. They promised, and that was not only a promise, but also an obligation, because it was part of a joint declaration which was ratified, and that's why we regard it as an obligation of Russia to give the Japanese two islands. As to the other two islands, I think it must be a matter of negotiations. But the returning of two islands was absolutely an obligation of Russia. So it was done by Communists, and I think that the Communist Party could do that, and even to give to the Japanese, to hand over to the Japanese four islands. Because we didn't have any public opinion in those days. And through the Communist Party's newspaper, Pravda, they could launch propaganda for the returning of these four islands to the Japanese, it's a victory of Communism - something, that - everyone would agree with that in Russia.

But now, the situation is absolutely different. We have public opinion, we have very different opinions, we have different parties, and so on. And the main point is, even if the government will agree on certain conditions of a treaty, the treaty must be ratified by Parliament, by the majority of the Parliament. That is the procedure of Parliament. So I don't think that the rightist parties, if they come to power in Russia, could so resolve, since there wouldn't be a dictatorship system in Russia. In a dictatorship, no Parliament, no public opinion, and just the simple act, to give, to sign the treaty, and hand over these territories to the Japanese. I don't think the Japanese will welcome this dictatorship scenario. I hope so.

Q: Russian Society of New Hampshire Member: A related question for Mr. Sarkisov. Given the strength of public opinion, and your pessimism about the situation - I must confess I'm not quite so pessimistic as you are on the Russian scene - is there any political party, is there any politician in any of these parties, and I know there are new ones emerging every week, who is willing to try to transform the issue into Russia's national interest about the Kurile Islands?

A: Konstantin Sarkisov: I would say that I completely agree with Graham when he said that the combination of party of power and democratic parties may attempt to solve this problem by the formula which was just mentioned by Graham, by transforming this territorial issue to a package of gains which can be achieved by Russia when this question is solved. To be more specific, I should say that Yablinski's party, Yabloka, they are in favor of the solution of this question, and so far as I know, and I asked some very influential member of this party, about this - Yablinski said many times, several times, two years ago, that he is in favor of returning four islands. It was a very bold utterance made by him in those days. But it was made two or three years ago. Now he prefers not to command this issue. But I asked one who is in a very influential position in his party, what about the position of your party on this territorial issue. Are you in favor of giving up to Japan four islands - not two, but four? He answered positively. But he told me that it must be done in a package deal. As for Gaidar's party, they were in favor of two plus alpha formula, but I don't know now what they are thinking about. I think, and my point is that unfortunately, in this situation, in Russia this question is so unpopular. So that democratic parties all prefer not to touch upon it.

Q: Russian Society of New Hampshire Member: A question for Dr. Sarkisov. If in the next few years, there is significant political change in China and, in particular, if some of the outlying Chinese provinces, like Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang, Tibet, get much greater political autonomy, what sort of effect do you think that might have on the Russian public looking at this problem with Japan?

A: Konstantin Sarkisov: It's also very interesting, and I should say complicated question, because directly there is no linkage between the problem of China's integrity and the territorial question in our relations with Japan. But I think that probably - when we worked together and worked over this joint project, we fully took into account all factors, including the geostrategic. If China will be weak, frustrated, will be divided into parts, I think it will create, it will be a factor of uncertainty for Russia, too. And Russia may be involved in this very complicated process in this sense. Probably the stable and normal relations with Japan will have increasing, increased value for Russia. And probably that will become a factor which stimulates Russia to seek the eventual solution of territorial questions. But frankly speaking I think that the point which was made by Graham - he said that these four islands are so small, what is the value of these islands for Russia, compared with getting the Russian troops out of the Baltic states, and German unification? I should say that for Russia, it's a problem of national consciousness. Because these four islands have become a part of Russia. It's not the Baltic states, they don't have any autonomy, so unfortunately the Japanese population were ousted from these islands, and there are now only Russian population living on these islands. And psychologically, they are a part of Russia. That's why it is very painful to make a decision to give them up or to hand them over to Japanese, and I think by the quality of this question, it is different from the questions of German and Baltic states.

Q: Professor Pipes of Harvard University: I was listening to these speakers, and the following thought occurred to me. There may be a formula, that Russians could give up the four islands and still be satisfied nationalistically, by saying, you know, we are such a gigantic country. We extend over twelve time zones. There's little Japan. Give them these poor islands. Give them four more islands if they want them. What are they to us? I don't know if it is practical proposition, but I think it's possible for a nationalist leader to say that. These are four rocks in the ocean, which are absolutely nothing significant to a country as mighty as ours is.

A: Konstantin Sarkisov: Yes. Unfortunately, we don't have any politicians who can think in such a way. Probably because they are not four rocks, but it's, from the territorial point of view, it's half of the Kurile islands. But I completely agree with you that they are not a matter of substance. Geopolitically, economically, and so on. My point is that we have to do, first of all, to convince the Russian people that those islands are not originally Russia's. Because 80 percent of our population believe that they are originally Russia's. So if you have originally your territories, how can you yield that to another power? So the first problem is that you have to convince that it's a territorial gain of the USSR, achieved by Stalin during the war. So that's not Russian territories, historically. And I think that this point will help us to reach to the final solution of this question. Because I have to say once again that it is not a problem of territories. It is a problem of national psychology.

A: Graham Allison: If I may make one follow up on my colleague Professor Pipes' question. I think that I agree very much with Konstantin's emphasis on the psychology, as this is achieved in terms of Russian politics. But I think that because the net of the advantage in a comprehensive resolution, not a giving up of this number of islands or that number of islands, but a comprehensive resolution in which economically, in the crudest terms, one would have sold them. In the crudest terms, but it wouldn't be crafted that way. But in any case, there would be a substantial number of billion dollars on the table. So now I can see why is this better for me, if I'm Russian. In security terms, again, guarantees with respect to the straits, reductions in the levels of forces, agreement with respect to Russia's role both in status and in terms of actions in the region, as a partner with the U.S. and Japan, as it thinks about its geostrategic problems with China, for example. And then, in political terms, if a package of items together was - you can either have Package 1, or you can have Package 2. Package 1 is to hold on to the set of four islands, about which two, there's no question, and two there's a dispute, and you have this history, and besides, what are they worth, and how big are they, and how big is Russia, and where are we now? And on the other hand, here is this package of net advantage in every one of those categories. I believe a reasonable political leadership in Russia could, looking for the right opportunity, move it as easily, more easily, than I believe the withdrawal from Germany, which was hard to do, but which was facilitated by the fact that there was $80 billion on the table, not a few nickels and dimes, but $80 billion. Which made it much more feasible for the parties involved to say, well, perhaps this is right, and perhaps history..., and in any case, it is to our advantage.

Q: Professor Hendrikson, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy: All speakers have, I believe, quite rightly put the emphasis on normalization of relations between Japan and Russia. After all, both sides have been living with the territorial status quo for 50 years, and as Professor Kimura pointed out, and Graham Allison also pointed out, there is a kind of mutual assimilation. Business is being done, visits to the dentist and so on, are taking place. In order to bring about normalization, there is an approach which hasn't been mentioned so far, except by implication. And that's the multilateral approach. Not trilateral, but multilateral, in the sense of involving an international organization or regime. Now, the UN really can't do it. Secretary General Boutras-Ghali raised this issue once in Japan, and it was very controversial and that didn't work. There isn't any northeast Asian multilateral arrangement now. But there is the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, of which I believe Japan is now an observer. That extends, that organization extends from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Why not continue that all the way around the northern hemisphere, so that it will reach from Vladivostok to Vladivostok? Bring Japan into the OCSE as a full member, so that there can be such arrangements as cooperation in dealing with natural disasters, like earthquakes and so on, so there can be training for peace-keeping, in which Russians and Japanese can cooperate in really practical matters, as is happening on the European side of Eurasia?

A: Graham Allison: I think Professor Hendrikson's question is a good one. In the scenarios that we looked at, we did look at assorted multilateral possibilities, as one tried to think about the status of the islands. For example, they might be for some season almost like a protectorate, that could be jointly administered, or could be administered as a U.N. territory, or could be administered in some other setting. So that's one point. Second point in terms of mechanisms for facilitating an agreement among the parties, and specifically trying to get to some resolution of the dispute, we thought that the smallest number of parties whose actions were required, and who were likely to be able to mobilize the energy to focus on it, was the best. At one stage we started thinking of making this a quadrilateral study, because China obviously has very great interest in this. But then we thought about the prospect of even trying to get four co-authors, and four co-committees, and four languages and whatever. And we were overwhelmed ourselves when we tried to think about how this would be done practically. That was the obstacle. And I think that would be the question that arises with respect to the proposal.

A: Hiroshi Kimura: You are absolutely right in the following sense, in that the security issue is an important component of this normalization, without which the territorial issue must not be resolved. That is one of the core parts of our joint work. However, on the other hand, it is easier said than done, you see. Furthermore, basically this dispute is a bilateral dispute. Therefore a multilateral approach - it sounds all right, beautiful, but there are hazards in it. Think of bringing up this question to the International Court at the Hague, for example. Both sides should agree before bringing this to the International Court, in the first place. In the second place, we have to - either side would have to prepare to abide by the final decision. Then, either one has to lose territory, or either one has to pay an indemnity or money, etc., etc. Then some psychology comes into this, some dissatisfaction would remain. Therefore, for this reason, only two countries should discuss on the table, and find out the final satisfactory solution. Another reason is even if security and other arrangements - the Helsinki accord in 1975 - national borders - they reached that agreement based on the understanding that national borders are decided. How to have a confidence-building measure, such as from 200 miles from the borderline both parties should announce the movement of troops for exercise, etc., etc. So logically speaking, national borders are so undecided, so indefinite, on which base OCSE agreement could be agreed. Therefore, your idea is very beautiful and ideal and fine, but I must also say that there are practical and logical difficulties.

Q: A sister Japanese city official: Both professors mentioned that there was a rise in nationalistic sentiment in Russia. [I] am wondering if you think that Russia is headed towards becoming a democratic open society or not.

A: Hiroshi Kimura: This question is obviously addressed to Professor Sarkisov, since he is coming from Russia. However, I am in some disagreement with what Professor Sarkisov said before. It was replied to also by Professor Allison, so I would like to take this opportunity to express my slightly different view. Namely, both professors, American and Russian professors, and the majority of the audience, have an assumption that if domestic politics is very nationalistic and right wing - it's very confusing nowadays, which is the right and left - however; very nationalistic and right-wing and left-wing communist oriented, then foreign policy naturally, automatically, becomes also a nationalistic one, hegemonistic one. However, you see, in very few cases, a connection, or relationship between domestic policy and foreign policy do not go like this. For example, in your country, In America, Nixon, Reagan, presidents from the Republicans, taking a much bolder policy toward the Soviet union. Why? Because nobody believed they are going beyond their national interests. On the other hand, the Democrats are sometimes not - cannot take a very bold policy towards Russia. And on the Russian scene, Breshnev took a detente policy as a foreign policy, which was rather liberal for foreign policy at that time. But domestically, he was oppressing even the Kosygin type of economic reform. Why? Because if political leaders are open-minded and liberalize the policy, both policies, foreign and domestic, he will lose. In rare cases, there has been a combination. Domestically, nationalistic, but when coming to foreign policy, a little bit open, you see. Both professors seem to be very, very pessimistic. However, apart from the ideological point of view, they must face a situation in which they have make some territorial compromise to Japan, whether they are coming from originally extreme right wing or left wing position. That's what I would reckon.

A: Konstantin Sarkisov: But the question was would Russia be democratic or not. I think the democratic changes in Russia were absolutely predetermined by the logic of historical and civilizational development. We couldn't sustain as a Communist country, with highly centralized planning economy. We failed to absorb the science and technologic progress achievements. And I think it is a law of history. The collapse of Communism was predetermined by the old historical developments. In that sense, I think that the future of Russia is only one - I see only one scenario, possible scenario for Russia: to be a democratic country. But the problem is the process to get to the democratic state. A market-oriented economy is a long and painful process, [and very] difficult. So there might be some setbacks. And that's why I'm pessimistic about the outcome of forthcoming elections. Because the democratic elections in the midst of the reforms doesn't mean necessarily the good results. I can understand it - if you are constructing the democratic society, you have to use democratic means for that. But it's an irony of history that sometimes, for building the democratic society, you have to use authoritarian methods, or authoritarian tools for that. Probably that's - I don't know it's that - but my point is that the forthcoming elections might be disastrous, so that it might be better not to hold elections at all. Not at all, but these two years, despite the fact that the Yeltsin regime is not perfect at all. It probably is absolutely outdated. But at the same time, we are afraid that new powers who will come will probably - not probably but to a great extent, they will be much worse than Yeltsin's regime is.

Q: Japanese sister city visitor: I understood only 10 percent of your speech; however, from my personal interest point of view I would like to ask each of you what does each nation expect from the other, between Russia and Japan, and please answer in Japanese.

A: Hiroshi Kimura: This touches upon the very crucial point of the return of those islands from Russia. Some professor stood up at one meeting in Hawaii, saying "Mr. Kimura, why are you sticking to the return of such tiny barrier islands. Why don't you rather purchase Hawaii, which is much richer in resources and other...?" And this is a very natural question. I answered, "We almost bought Hawaii." And this is a very bad joke, to Americans, you see. But evading my answer to that question, which has some truth in it, but it's related to your question. From the Japanese side, we want to have a real friendship, good full-blooded relationship with our greatest neighbor, Russia. Therefore, economically speaking, maybe it's not worthwhile for us to request the return of these islands, which don't even have any pavement, for example, for traffic. There is one pavement in the entire four islands. That is called the American road. That is because they believe that in the future these islands will return to Japan, and therefore there is no need for investment in the infrastructure. And some Japanese economists calculated how much we would have to increase our tax once these islands are back. But we are not requesting the return of these islands for economic purposes at all. Probably a symbolic value, provided by the Russian side, they took these islands illegally and falsely, and that was wrong, and committed by Stalin, so we want to rectify the mistake. It means we are also human beings, who like to rectify mistakes once we did it. Then we can trust the Russians. Otherwise, without shelving this question to a future solution, - for example, one of my students said, "Professor Kimura, we don't get these islands back but we don't have any relationship with the Russians." That's a most dangerous psychology or situation. We have to live peacefully together, side by side. For this we have a very good metaphor, invented by Professor Sarkisov, of some small bones sticking to the throat, that could cause a cancer, or a very serious disease in the future. So the sooner we take these bones out, so that blood from both countries flow smoothly. Therefore we just want to know that the Russians are also good neighbors, so as a symbol of this trust, we would like to get the islands as a gift of goodwill.

A: Graham Allison: I think that in the tone of Hiroshi's point, if I've heard it right, is one that I hear frequently, which is "Japan was wronged. Stalin seized the islands illegally. The islands are symbolic." There's the feeling that Russia should return them unilaterally, or almost so, as a symbol of good faith. And however attractive that position is morally, or personally, or even psychologically, I think as a matter of diplomacy, or geopolitics, it is misguided. I think if Germany had asked - if the German government had asked, had thought, ah ha! we were invaded, at the end of the war Russians stayed here, this was our territory forever, we would ask them to please recognize that the war's over and go home, Russian troops would still be in Germany. So I think that it is only by a determination to make the net advantage to Russia, economic advantage, political advantage, security advantage, positive and to communicate this so vigorously that Russian politics can't misunderstand it, that the moral position, which is not - I'm not disagreeing with the validity, but that it's going to become efficacious.

Q: Nichinan Mayor Yoshio Miyamoto: I would like to ask of Professor Sarkisov and Professor Kimura what they think - because we have been speaking of the Treaty of Portsmouth and relations between Russia and the United States - what they think the future role of the United States will be, in future relations between Russia and Japan.

A: Konstantin Sarkisov: Let me reply first in English and then in Japanese. I think that all have mentioned about the American role as a mediator. I think that America's role might be much more important, because we are saying that if there is a solution of the territorial issue, it must be a package deal, concerning all aspects of bilateral relations and especially, security problems. In that sense, without America, we cannot achieve any agreements on security, because I think that the U.S.-Japan mutual security treaty will survive for a long period, and without American participation in the process, I don't see any possibility of a serious discussion of the security problems, in the framework of Japan-Russian peace negotiations. So I think that America should play an important and very crucial role in our relations, in our dealing with Japan in the sense of peace treaty negotiations.

A: Hiroshi Kimura: I completely agree with Professor Sarkisov. The role to be played by the United States is quite great in this present territorial dispute as well as it was 90 years ago. And furthermore, as Professor Sarkisov pointed out, and also endorsed by Professor Allison, the American professor, the United States are morally obligated to do so, because the question was partially created by American foreign policy, guided by FDR and Dulles. So to that extent, it is not only desirable but it is obligatory for the United States to take an honest broker's role. However, some reservation must be attached. First of all, now Russo-U.S. relationship has been deteriorating; therefore, I am afraid how positive a role the United States can play. Also, U.S.-Japan trade relationship has been having some conflict, but compared with U.S.-Russian relations, Japan-U.S. relations have been much, much better. Therefore, some Russians might suspect that the United States take sides with Japan rather than with Russia. At this moment, the United States cannot play a very neutral, fair position with regard to this question. Second of all, as I said, basically this dispute or conflict is bilateral in nature. Therefore we should not ask a third party to play too much of a role. That's an easy way to do so, but particularly some Japanese respect the United States very much, but after all, we have to decide. Two countries have to decide. As you know, in Japan there is a marriage arrangement, they have an intermediate person. I did too, when I became 34 years old, I must confess, you know, no young girl is available for taking out in Kyoto City. So I went to that old lady, and asked her, and it turned out to be the best I got, after 55 arrangements. This is a joke, but.... But the way the Japanese intermediary lady, woman, does it is very interesting - to say something nice to each other, you see, sometimes over-emphasizing. That girl very good, and perfect match to you. And to the girl, she repeats the same thing, Professor Kimura is wonderful person, not only good scholar but have good friends in America and Russia, future promising, a scholar. Then my present wife was deceived, you know. Such acting is necessary, you see. But after all, we meet together, that's the most important thing, we like, we are attracted by each other, so we take the intermediary's words as a pretext - because she recommends you so highly, I decide to marry you. That's a very nice way to put it! So what I want to emphasize is that after all, Japan and Russia must ultimately make the decision.

Q: Tufts University Student: Professor Allison? You mentioned lack of imagination, determination and leadership to start the negotiations. This is a practical question, If we are seeking the area settlement of this dispute, which country, Japan, or Russia, or the United States, do you expect to take a strong leadership? And, another question. Are there any possibilities that the United States will participate in the near future in the territorial negotiations?

A: Graham Allison: Two very hard questions, but thank you. I think the first question is very clarifying, because if you say, yes, of course, leadership and determination is required by each of the states, but which would - of which is most required? I suspect that Japan is the most - would be the candidate from which one would wish or hope for the most decisive imagination and leadership, although this may not be likely. But I think that the other two candidates are Russia and the U.S. Russia is in the midst of a genuine revolution, that is convulsing and transforming the whole state, and therefore its leadership is not likely to be able to exert the level of imagination and leadership to take the original initiative. The U.S. I think has the opportunity, as Hiroshi has said, to play the role of this intermediary or marriage broker, and I think actually that some important role can be played in that part, but that's more in a supporting cast, rather than the overall leadership. So I think that while Japan may be the most harmed of the parties, and often feels that way, it also is a successful country now that has gone through its own changes, and therefore would be the one that I would look to or wish for in the first instance for imagination and leadership. Given the changes in Japan, and in Japan's political structure now, whether there will emerge somebody to take a position of leadership as Prime Minister, who would be more than just a caretaker for a weak government, I think is uncertain. But I take some heart from the fact that at least in the earlier stages, Mr. Osawa, who is one of the moving parties in the current political structure, was prepared to think of a proposition of $20 or $30 billion dollars as part of a total package, that would make this genuinely in the interests of Russia. And I think actually that if circumstances had moved more actively then, one might have got to a resolution. So that's the first question.

On the second question, is the U.S. government likely to exercise much leadership here, now, in the immediate future, I think the answer is no. I think the U.S. government will be consumed by in the first instance, our own electoral season now for the next fourteen months, in which this is not an issue, and won't become an issue. And then, after that, depending on what happens in the election, one will have another six months or a year of sorting out. So unfortunately, I wouldn't hold out much hope that the U.S. government will play a major leadership role here, though I wish that it would.

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