Explaining Russia’s Official Response To Shinzo Abe’s Assassination

Explaining Russia’s Official Response To Shinzo Abe’s Assassination

By Andrew Korybko

The contrast between Abe’s portrayal by the Alt-Media Community and Russian officials couldn’t be sharper despite both forces supporting the global systemic transition to multipolarity. This goes to show that it’s possible for folks to have the same geostrategic end game in mind while nevertheless going about it differently.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination shocked the entire world, not just because he was a well-known foreign leader, but also because his country has some of the strictest laws against firearms. Responses began flowing in immediately after the news broke that he’d been shot and continued after it was confirmed that he’d been killed. While many in the Alt-Media Community (AMC) took the opportunity to educate the general public about many of the unsavoury aspects of Abe’s legacy, such as his glorification of World War II-era war criminals who genocided tens of millions of Chinese and the efforts that he personally undertook to convince the US to more aggressively “contain” the People’s Republic, Russia’s official response was markedly different.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the assassination as a “monstrous crime” and an “act of terrorism”, while others focused less on the act itself and more on his legacy with respect to attempting to improve Russian-Japanese relations. Chief of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev reminded everyone that “As prime minister, Shinzo Abe personally oversaw a long-term and very effective project of interregional cooperation through the upper houses of the Russian and Japanese parliaments.” This set the backdrop against which Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov effusively eulogized him by saying that “Mr. Abe was, indeed, a patriot of Japan, he always stood for the interests of his country, while pursuing diplomatic solutions.”

“This”, he said, “is why he had very good relations with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin.” In that context, it should be noted that the two leaders held more 25 one-on-one meetings as they sought to resolve their long-standing World War II-era dispute over the Kuril Islands, which Tokyo unilaterally regards as the so-called “Northern Territories”. It’s for this reason that President Putin’s condolences to Abe’s mother and wife described him as someone “who accomplished a lot towards the development of good relations between our countries. We maintained regular contacts with Shinzo Abe, and his wonderful personal and professional qualities were in full evidence on these occasions. All those who knew him will always retain the bright memory of this magnificent person in their hearts.”

The contrast between Abe’s portrayal by the AMC and Russian officials couldn’t be sharper despite both forces supporting the global systemic transition to multipolarity. This goes to show that it’s possible for folks to have the same geostrategic end game in mind while nevertheless going about it differently. To many in the AMC, Abe was an obstacle on the path to multipolarity, yet Moscow saw things differently since it hoped to ultimately reach an agreement with Tokyo on their World War II-era dispute in order to enter into a rapprochement that could in turn geo-economically revolutionize Northeast Asia. What the Kremlin seems to have had in mind is courting Japanese investment into its resource-rich nearby Far Eastern region as a means of preemptively averting disproportionate dependence on China.

This was to be paired with investments from those two’s shared Indian partners in order to create a new centre of gravity in the region that could “balance” Chinese influence in a friendly, gentle, and non-hostile way. It deserves to be mentioned that this was pursued during the time when Russia still held out hope that a “New Détente” could be clinched with the US whereby the Ukrainian Civil War would be diplomatically resolved through the Minsk Accords prior to a grand deal being agreed to between these nuclear superpowers for comprehensively restoring Moscow’s relations with the West while enabling Washington to fully focus on “containing” China in the Indo-Pacific. Had that happened, then Russia could have become the supreme balancing force in Eurasia between America and China.

Alas, it wasn’t to be because the anti-Russian faction of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) sabotaged former US President Donald Trump’s tacitly shared vision to this end through the combination of Russiagate and the immense pressure they put upon Japan not to resolve its World War II-era dispute with Russia. Abe eventually resigned for health reasons, following which his successors fell much more under American influence than he ever was with respect to their country’s relations with Russia, hence why the over two dozen talks that he held with President Putin weren’t replicated by those who came after him. Be that as it is, the Russian leadership still remains nostalgic for the Abe era of bilateral relations where some pragmatism still existed.

They’d rather emphasize the good than dwell on the bad, the first-mentioned in relation to the over 25 meetings that the former Prime Minister held with President Putin and the second with reference to everything that the AMC has rightly reported about the unsavoury aspects of Abe’s legacy. President Putin recently reaffirmed the importance of sovereignty in International Relations, which adds another dimension to why his country’s official response to Abe’s assassination didn’t make mention of his glorification of World War II-era war criminals who genocided tens of millions of Chinese nor his efforts to personally convince Trump to double down on “containing” China. As Peskov said, he was “a patriot of Japan, he always stood for the interests of his country” as he himself understood them to be.

That doesn’t mean that Russia endorses his atrocious actions, however, but just that it understands the rationale behind them from the perspective of his country’s traditions and sovereign right to practice them irrespective of how unsavoury they are. It deserves to be mentioned that Russians were also tortured, experimented on, and brutally killed by Imperial Japan so Moscow has no sympathy for Tokyo’s glorification of the same individuals who were responsible for these war crimes. That said, the comparatively pragmatic context in which bilateral relations were conducted during the Abe era seemingly influenced Russian officials not to focus on that so as to avoid “spoiling the nostalgia” of the only time where there was actual hope for finally resolving their World War II-era dispute.

To be absolutely clear, none of what was just analysed should be interpreted by the reader as implying support for the atrocious aspects of Abe’s legacy, but simply as an explanation of why Russia – and especially President Putin and his spokesman Peskov — overlooked that in its official response to his assassination. International Relations are such that the reality thereof oftentimes contradicts popular perceptions, especially among those who generally sympathize with one or another country such as Russia. It might have surprised some to see that Moscow conspicuously omitted any mentioning of these unsavoury aspects of his legacy, but the reason why it did so has to do with the way in which diplomacy is actually conducted between Great Powers, not the way that the AMC wishes that it was.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.

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Categories: Geopolitics, International Affairs

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