Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

  • HOME
  • Speaking Out
  • 【#969】Japan Should Retaliate Russia’s Detention of a Consul
Takashi Arimoto

【#969】Japan Should Retaliate Russia’s Detention of a Consul

Takashi Arimoto / 2022.10.05 (Wed)

October 3, 2022

The detention and interrogation of a diplomat represent a grave infringement of national sovereignty. Russia has boldly done that. On September 26, the Russian government detained a consul at the Japanese Consulate-General in Vladivostok for his alleged illegal acquisition of information related to Russia’s state secrets and deported him. Since Japan restored diplomatic relations with the then Soviet Union in 1956, this is the first time that Moscow declared a Japanese diplomat persona non grata.

Deport a Russian diplomat

In his speech on September 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded that Western countries aim to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy Russia, indicating that the United States and its allies supporting Ukraine are Russia’s main enemy. As Japan is one of U.S. allies, the latest action against the diplomat may amount to pressure on Japan.

At an extraordinary press conference on September 27, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi voiced his strong protest against Russia and vowed to take a counteraction. In one week after the detention, however, the Japanese government took no action. The government should deport a Russian diplomat engaging in espionage in Japan. It should immediately demonstrate its firm resolve.

Japan surrounded by 3 autocracies

At the same time, we should acknowledge that Japan-Russia relations are the tensest in recent years. As noted by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan surrounded by Russia, China and North Korea is in the world’s toughest national security environment.

While serving as prime minister, Abe held 27 meetings with Putin, stepping up Japan’s diplomacy toward Russia. He thought that Japan was urgently required to resolve its territorial dispute with Russia over the Russian-held Northern Territories as former Japanese residents on the territories were aging. Furthermore, Japan is the world’s only country to scramble fighter aircraft to intercept both Russian and Chinese military aircraft approaching Japan. Abe’s aim was not only to resolve the Northern Territories issue but also to drive a wedge between Russia and China, acknowledging that China was a main threat to Japan.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has dashed hopes on any breakthrough in Japan-Russia relations. Abe emphasized that Japan should learn a lesson from the Russian aggression that a military imbalance induces an aggression. Accepting this as his last word, the Japanese government should make every effort to quickly build up its military capabilities.

Takashi Arimoto is a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.