Putin meets with Japan’s Foreign Minister


Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in St. Petersburg. The central event over the course of the trip is going to be the opening of a section of the international highway.

Objectives of the visit

Yesterday, Kishida arrived in Russia to prepare for the upcoming visit of Vladimir Putin to Japan. The main meeting of the three-day visit by the head of the Japanese foreign ministry with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, will happen tomorrow. In Japan, no particular outcome is  expected from the meeting between the foreign ministry heads. The main hopes are on Putin's visit to Tokyo. However, Japanese media have questioned whether Kishida can reduce the contradictions over territorial disputes.

The background

Yesterday, President Putin delivered his address to the Federal Assembly, during which an unexpected foreign policy idea was announced. For the first time, the need for good neighborly relations and ties with an old partner of Moscow, Japan, was mentioned and emphasized as "having potential.”

However, the most serious attention should be paid to the fact that Vladimir Putin said that Moscow "welcomes the commitment of the leadership of this country (Japan)". This, in fact, made it clear that there is no such importance of concluding a peace agreement for Moscow, as for Tokyo. This was also emphasized by the recent placement of missiles on the islands.

Political traditions

According to the Japanese political tradition, basic agreements need to be reached between assistants before the meeting of senior officials. This explains why the Japanese media has said that the main meeting will be tomorrow with Sergey Lavrov, and not today with Vladimir Putin, which they considered to be more of a polite gesture. It will be decided tomorrow what will be discussed on December 15th-16th in Japan, according to Tokyo’s opinion.

The situation is fundamentally different for Russia. Many leaders from different countries pay attention to the fact that meetings with the Russian leader have a lively, improvisational character.

Possible outcomes

Most likely, Putin will try to make the most of all these features. Probably, by December 15th, he will be thoroughly familiar with the whole situation in Japan, Japanese society, and the political and economic situation and other details, while the Russian President is unlikely to inform someone else about his own plans.

This fact usually gives Moscow a very significant advantage in negotiations.