Problems of the historical past in Japan's relations with the countries of East Asia and Russia. Lessons for Russia

Russian Science Foundation grant No. 19-18-00017 ● Institute of Oriental Studies Russian Academy of Sciences

About the project

The topic of historical past and historical is one of the key factors of the development of international relations in East Asia. The issues of historical past are not only vividly manifested in relations between the states of this region, but also frequently occupy the central place in the agenda of these relations, defining the general state of a political atmosphere.

Among the unsettled problems are the issues evaluation of colonial past in Japan’s relations with the states of the Korean Peninsula, the problem of political assessment of Japan’s expansionist policy towards the continental East Asian states, including the estimation of the scale and character of crimes committed by the Japanese military in these countries, the issues of compensations due to the victims of this policy, and also territorial disputes of Japan with China, the Republic of Korea, and Russia.

The problems of historical past are also negatively influencing their general atmosphere in Japan’s contemporary relations with Russia. This is caused by the two countries’ vastly different evaluations of the results of the Second World War.

Academic and public value of the project is defined by the fact that at present the problems of historical past remain a significant factor of deterioration of relations of Japan with the PRC, the Republic of Korea, and Russia. The timeliness of this topic of research is caused by the general tendency of growing nationalist sentiments in East Asian countries against the background of a crisis of the traditional system of regional order and the changing balance of power in the region.

The novelty of the project is determined by the fact that in Russian academic literature there is a dearth of complex and generalizing research that would make it possible to unify all issues of historical past as a single factor influencing Japan’s relations with countries of East Asia and Russia. With the passage of time, the problems under investigation do not lose their timeliness but rather become increasingly salient in Japan’s international relations with its neighboring countries, while their introduction to the political agenda of these relations is aimed at achieving purely pragmatic goals. This makes it imperative to constantly monitor the situation related to the problems of historical past and conduct systematic and regular research in this field. The generalization and conceptualization of the experience of dealing with these problems would make it possible to produce practical recommendations for foreign policy agencies regarding Russia’s relations with Japan with consideration of the role of the factor of historical past. 

All issues of historical past will be considered as a single factor influencing Japan’s relations with countries of East Asia and Russia. Within the framework of the research, a complex analysis of the official Tokyo’s approach to settling the problems of historical past with its neighboring countries will be conducted, and a generalizing characterization of the role and place of these problems in the modern Japan-China, Japan-Taiwan, Japan-South Korea, and Russia-Japan relations will be given.