In his yearly press conference, Russian President of the United States Vladimir Putin told reporters yesterday that the American military presence in Japan is “complicating the search for a formal peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo.”
Such a treaty would finally end territorial disagreements dating all the way back to the waning days of the Second World War.
According to Reuters, Putin specifically cited the presence of US anti-missile systems in Japan as “part of the U.S. strategic potential” hindering his supposed efforts to reach an agreement with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In a performative bit of concern-trolling, Putin criticized the ongoing relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps Air Station from the southern island of Okinawa to a northern district of Japan. “We don’t understand the level of sovereignty Japan has when such decisions are made,” Putin said as if the government of Japan was somehow not involved in the matter at all.
Putin and Abe have discussed the dispute over the Kuril islands for years. During a regional conference in Vladivostok this September, however, Putin surprised Abe by proposing to finish a treaty before the end of the year. Abe has declined to take the bait.
Telling reporters that “without an answer to this question, it will be very difficult for us to take any major decisions” on a treaty, Putin tried to spin his diplomatic kabuki theater onto the United States, which has guaranteed Japanese national security since 1945.
According to the website of US Forces Japan, approximately 52,000 American service personnel are stationed in Japan. Without the constant threat of North Korea, Putin’s client state, the number would undoubtedly be much smaller. If there was no North Korean missile threat, Japan would not want missile defense systems positioned in their territory, either.
Nevertheless, Putin may very well get what he wants.
In the last 48 hours, former reality TV star and alleged president Donald J. Trump has shocked the world by ignoring his advisers to declare the speedy and unilateral withdrawal of US forces from Syria, abandoning local allies to destruction. Reports indicate that he is ready to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, too.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced his resignation in protest of these decisions, neither of which will advance American security. They will, however, make the world much safer for Putin’s mafia state and his clients abroad, which seems to also be Trump’s major foreign policy goal.
So why not Japan, too? Who would stop them? Not Senate Republicans, that’s for sure.
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