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A Lack of Trust between Russia and Japan?

Following yesterday’s high-level meetings to discuss energy and trade between Russia and Japan, some in the English language blogosphere out of Japan are looking upon the relationship negatively.

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Here Rising Sun of Nihon catalogues five reasons why the Japanese don’t trust the Russians:

1. Russia’s government will intervene in private-sector matters. Gazprom and Sakhalin-2 energry project come to mind. 2. Regulations on foreign companies are not applied equally. 3. Russian laws change without notification. 4. Bribery is too common at customs. 5. Russia has two tiny islands north of Hokkaido that Japan thinks belong to them and Russia will not give back. Still, with Russia’s economy growing and the country’s rich natural resources, “relations based on economy and business can be built higher.” And then, maybe Japan can get some concessions from Russia…until the Bear changes its mind again. Russians are good people…its government, like many in the world, is self-serving and crooked. Do you think doing business with a person leads to increase trust? Or should there be trust first and then business?

This approach is certainly out of line with the warm reception given to Russia yesterday by Japanese officials.