U.S.-Japan- Russia Trilateral
The second round of a U.S.-Japan-Russia Trilateral was held in Moscow on March 15-16, 2017. The first round was held at NCAFP Headquarters in New York City on March 10-11, 2016.
The NCAFP partnered with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Tokyo Foundation for a discussion of current aspects of trilateral relations. Japanese Ambassador to Russia Toyohisa Kozuki and Andrey Kortunov, Director General of RIAC, opened the event.
Participants from the three countries discussed Russia-Japan relations after President Putin’s visit to Tokyo, U.S.-Russia relations over Ukraine and Syria under the new U.S. Administration, U.S.-China relations under the new Administration and implications for Russia and Japan, and turmoil on the Korean Peninsula and potential for cooperation between the United States, Japan and Russia on this issue.
Participants noted that the President Putin-Prime Minister Abe meeting marked progress in Moscow-Tokyo relations yet obstacles to rapprochement remain. The sovereignty of the Northern Territories/Kirill Islands is still in question, although Russia and Japan have agreed to explore joint economic development initiatives in the area. Japanese participants confirmed Japan’s commitment to adhering to sanctions imposed by G-7 countries in response to Russian actions in Ukraine, limiting prospects for Japanese investment in Russia.
Regarding U.S.-Russia relations, some participants emphasized that serious differences between Russia and the West remained regarding Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria. Certain basic principles of the international order were at stake. Further, alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections cast a damper on efforts to improve the relationship. That said, participants agreed that there was a need for dialogue and that there are areas where U.S.-Russian cooperation is essential. Most notably regarding global challenges such as proliferation and terrorism. Several participants lamented the lack of political dialogue and an apparent resumption of the arms race.
U.S. relations with China going forward would impact both Japan and Russia, noted Russian and Japanese participants. Experts discussed whether Russia had an interest in improving relations with the United States as a way to gain leverage in its bilateral relations with China, which still remain critical to Russia’s security and economic development.
The Trilateral concluded with a discussion of the Korean Peninsula and opportunities for the United States, Japan and Russia to cooperate on this issue. Participants agreed on the urgency of dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea, which threatened not only regional but also global security. They stressed the need to transform DPRK from a rogue state into a legitimate actor internationally.
Finally, participants expressed their support to continue the U.S.-Japan-Russia Trilateral Dialogue on a regular basis.