Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On Northern Territories

I would like to write about Northern Territories.
They used to belong to Japan. Now they are effectively controlled by Russia.
Russia's official position of course is that they belong to their country. Japan's official stance on the other hand is that they belong to Japan, but that they have been illegally occupied by Russia that invaded the territories in defiance of
The Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact concluded in 1941.

I'm in no position to say anything about bureaucratic technicalities, nor am I interested in simply continuing to say, "Please give them back to Japan." However, I have this plan which I believe benefits both countries.

<Japan and Russia Should Promote Athletic Events on Northern Territories>
In my opinion, promoting athletic events on Northern Territories is a mutually beneficial option. Here is why. It makes both economic and political sense.

<Economic Benefits>
Promotion of athletic events makes economic sense for both Russia and Japan. Suppose a marathon race takes place on one of the islands. Quite a few people are expected to go there to run the race, considering there are already so many people who take a plane to run Honolulu Marathon. One merit of holding a race on the northern island is the climate. There aren't many full marathon available in summer months in Japan. On the other hand, the air is cool in the north even in Japan's summer months. Many runners in Japan will gladly welcome the event.

The large number of runners who visit the island are potential customers for local businesses. Russians can make huge profits by selling food and offering accommodation to the Japanese. 

What, then, is Japan's economic merit? One merit is investment opportunity. Not all local businesses in Russia have all the money to set up businesses. That's where Japan's financial assistance comes in. Japanese investors can invest in businesses and earn a huge long-term interest if the event becomes a tradition and lasts for many years.

<Political Benefits>
There is a political merit for both countries also. For example, Russia can have more spies in Japan. How so? Well, athletic events will certainly create romance. A physically strenuous activity such as marathon creates a sense of one-ness. People often throw a party after the event, and communication is promoted. So is romance. Some Russians may marry runners from Japan. Some may decided to live in Japan. Once inside Japan, they can engage in all kinds of intelligence operations. This is a political merit for Russia.

Then, what is Japan's political merit?  Will Russia eventually decide to return the territories to us because many Russians and Japanese are now good friends? Never. Northern Territories will continue to be effectively controlled by Russia unless Japan engages in war and beats Russia. Very few people want that scenario. Japan's political merit is not eventual territorial ownership. That doesn't mean much unless there is economic merit.

In fact, I'm not very clear on this last problem. So it's going to be my homework. But unless we have something to offer that they want, there is little room for negotiation. And as long as there is no room for negotiation, Northern Territories will never return to Japan.

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