Japan’s Abe Made a Mighty Fool of Himself at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

Japan’s Abe Made a Mighty Fool of Himself at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum by Gilbert Doctorow – Russia-Insider

But then his entire Russia policy has been a joke — dangling the prospect of measly economic investments in return for the Kuriles while ignoring Russia’s very real concern that Japan is a military satellite of a hostile USA

The 4th Eastern Economic Forum which held its plenary session on Wednesday, 12 September and heard important addresses from its host, Vladimir Putin, and from a constellation of Northeast Asian leaders, has received a smattering of attention in the world press, highlighting only a few elements in what has been a cornucopia of material for analysis in the economic, geopolitical and defense spheres.

Some picked up Vladimir Putin’s well planted remarks in questioning following his address, when he commented on the Skripal case, saying that the Russian suspects named a week ago by British Prime Minister Theresa May as military intelligence (GRU) operatives had presented themselves and were just ordinary citizens, not criminals. Some turned their attention to the Vostok-18 military exercises going on nearby in the Russian Far East on a scale not seen since the days of the Soviet Union and with participation of both Chinese and Mongolian units, a first of its kind.  There were discussions among analysts over whether the numbers of forces named by the Russians (300,000 fighting men, 1,000 aircraft, 36,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers) were not inflated and whether the exercise truly demonstrated Russia’s force projection capabilities across the 7,000 km of the Federation in tight timelines. Some very few, like The Financial Times, looked at the economic significance of the Forum taken on its own merits. The FT published an article on the risk calculations behind ongoing Chinese investments in the Russian Far East and in the Russian Federation more generally.

No mainstream commentators to my knowledge have examined the dynamics of the Northeast Asian leaders among themselves.

In the day preceding the formal opening of the Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin held bilateral meetings with the lead guest, Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In both cases, the talks were followed by lengthy statements to the press that were substantial and worthy of our time.

Still more interesting were the appearances of the five national leaders present on the dais at the plenary session.  It was a rare occasion to witness the presidents of Russia, China and Mongolia, the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea sitting together, hearing one another’s addresses and responding to questions.

The questioning was all the more relevant because, breaking with the recent tradition in Russian economic and political forums, the moderator came not from NBC or Bloomberg, who brought coy or hectoring questions to amuse Western audiences by standing up to the authoritarian in the Kremlin,  but from one of Russia’s most capable and most watched television journalists, Sergei Brillyov (Rossiya-1).  His questions had likely been coordinated with the Kremlin in advance and were more probing and revealing than anything we have seen hitherto in such formats.

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