90MOSCOW4161, U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS: THE SOVIET PERSPECTIVE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
90MOSCOW4161 1990-02-02 19:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

R 021927Z FEB 90
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5736
INFO AMEMBASSY SEOUL
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY BEIJING

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 04161 
 
E.O. 12356:DECL:OADR 
TAGS: PREL UR JA US
SUBJECT:  U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS: THE SOVIET PERSPECTIVE 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY: THE ORIENTAL INSTITUTE'S TOP JAPAN 
EXPERT, CONSTANTIN SARKISOV, THINKS UNCERTAINTY IN 
THE U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONSHIP WILL CONTINUE AND WILL 
EVENTUALLY FORCE A STRUCTURAL 'REMODELLING" OF THE 
RELATIONSHIP.  THE U.S. WILL HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THE 
INEVITABILITY OF JAPAN'S BECOMING THE WORLD'S LEADING 
ECONOMIC POWER.  THE CHANGES IN U.S.- JAPAN RELATIONS 
OFFER OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE U.S. AND SOVIETS TO 
COOPERATE IN CHANNELING JAPAN INTO PRODUCTIVE 
ENDEAVORS AND MAKING SURE JAPAN DOES NOT GET "OUT 
FRONT" POLITICALLY OR MILITARILY.  SINCE THE SOVIETS 
HAVE LITTLE ECONOMIC INFLUENCE IN THE REGION, THE 
U.S. WILL NEED TO TAKE THE LEAD IN FINDING AN 
ECONOMIC ROLE FOR JAPAN THAT WILL KEEP IT HAPPY. 
"DON'T ASK THEM," HE ADVISED. "PUSH THEM."  THE 
COROLLARY, SARKISOV SUGGESTED, IS THAT IT IS IN 
SOVIET INTERESTS TO MOVE THINGS ALONG IN THE RIGHT 
DIRECTION MILITARILY, BY ACTING TO FURTHER DIMINISH 
THE ALREADY SHRINKING PERCEPTION IN JAPAN OF THE 
"SOVIET THREAT."  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  WORLD'S LEADING ECONOMIC POWER 
/   ------------------------------ 
 
CONSTANTIN SARKISOV, THE ORIENTAL INSTITUTE'S LEADING 
JAPAN EXPERT, PROVIDED POLOFF WITH HIS VIEWS ON U.S. 
- JAPAN RELATIONS AND ON HOW THE U.S. AND SOVIET 
UNION COULD COOPERATE IN THE FUTURE ON JAPAN POLICY. 
IN A JANUARY 19 MEETING WITH POLOFF, SARKISOV SAID HE 
SAW CONSIDERABLE TENSION IN U.S. - JAPAN RELATIONS. 
CURRENT UNCERTAINTIES ON BOTH SIDES WOULD EVENTUALLY 
FORCE A "REMODELLING" OF THE CURRENT RELATIONSHIP, 
WHICH HE THOUGHT WAS OUTDATED.  THE U.S. NEEDED TO 
COME TO GRIPS WITH THE FACT THAT IN THE NEXT CENTURY 
JAPAN WOULD BE THE WORLD'S LEADING ECONOMIC POWER. 
IN TEN YEARS, JAPAN'S GNP WOULD BE 75 PERCENT OF U.S. 
GNP--OR MORE, HE SAID. 
 
4.  A MODEL RELATIONSHIP 
/   -------------------- 
 
SARKISOV SAID THE INTERDEPENDENCE BETWEEN THE TWO 
POWERS WOULD CONTINUE AND THE U.S. - JAPAN 
RELATIONSHIP SHOULD PROVE TO BE A MODEL OF FUTURE 
RELATIONSHIPS IN THE WORLD.  THERE WOULD BE FRICTION 
IN THE PROCESS BUT THE RELATIONSHIP WOULD SURVIVE 
INTACT ALBEIT WITH ALTERED SECURITY AND ECONOMIC 
DIMENSIONS.  THE U.S. WOULD NEED TO ACTIVELY SEEK OUT 
A LEADING ROLE FOR JAPAN ECONOMICALLY--NOT AS A BILL 
PAYER OR DISCOUNT BANK BUT AS THE PREDOMINANT 
FINANCER AND DECISIONMAKER IN MULTILATERAL ECONOMIC 
PROJECTS.  SARKISOV SAID THE U.S. SHOULD NOT 
NEGOTIATE THIS WITH JAPAN, BUT SHOULD PUSH JAPAN INTO 
THE ROLE, WHICH HE FELT WOULD SATISFY THE JAPANESE 
"EGO" AND KEEP TOKYO FROM CONCENTRATING ON POLITICAL 
OR STRATEGIC ISSUES. 
 
5.  THE SOVIETS, SARKISOV SAID, DID NOT SEE AN 
ECONOMIC THREAT FROM JAPAN.  THERE WAS AN ECONOMIC 
MISMATCH.  THE SOVIETS DID, HOWEVER, FEAR A MILITARY 
THREAT FROM JAPAN SHOULD JAPANESE MILITARY POWER 
CONTINUE TO GROW.  IT HAS NOT IN SOVIET OR U.S. 
INTERESTS TO SEE JAPAN BECOME A WORLD POLITICAL OR 
STRATEGIC POWER.  TOGETHER, THE U.S. AND SOVIET UNION 
COULD WORK TO ENSURE THIS DID NOT HAPPEN.  MANY 
SOVIETS CONSIDERED THE U.S. PRESENCE IN JAPAN AN 
ANCHOR RESTRAINING JAPANESE MILITARY POWER, SAID 
SARKISOV, AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT CONTINUE 
INDEFINITELY.  BUT THE SIZE OF THE U.S. PRESENCE 
NEEDED TO BE REDUCED.  U.S. REDUCTIONS--OR EVEN U.S. 
WILLINGNESS TO TALK SERIOUSLY ABOUT REDUCTIONS--COULD 
OPEN THE WAY FOR SOVIET MILITARY REDUCTIONS IN THE 
REGION.  SOVIET REDUCTIONS WOULD FURTHER REDUCE THE 
PERCEPTION IN JAPAN OF A SOVIET THREAT.  EVEN NOW, 
PEOPLE IN JAPAN DID NOT FEEL AS THREATENED BY THE 
SOVIET UNION AS THEY HAD TWO YEARS AGO, SARKISOV 
SAID. 
 
 
6.  COMMENT:  SARKISOV'S COMMENTS ABOUT THE 
COMMONALITY OF U.S. AND SOVIET INTERESTS VIS-A-VIS 
JAPAN ARE PART OF A BROADER SOVIET ARGUMENT WE HAVE 
BEEN HEARING MUCH OF RECENTLY IN SUPPORT OF SOVIET 
ARMS CONTROL OBJECTIVES.  THE BASIC THRUST IS THAT, 
TO OPEN THE POSSIBILITIES FOR MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL 
COOPERATION IN NORTHEAST ASIA IN WHICH THE U.S., 
JAPAN AND THE SOVIET UNION ALL PLAY CONSTRUCTIVE 
ROLES, THE U.S. NEEDS TO BEGIN THE ARMS CONTROL 
PROCESS.  THE RIGHT U.S. GESTURE WOULD OPEN THE WAY 
FOR SOVIET FORCE REDUCTIONS WHICH WOULD LESSEN 
JAPANESE (AND KOREAN) SECURITY CONCERNS.  A CONTINUED 
U.S. MILITARY PRESENCE IN JAPAN IS ALSO PART OF THE 
ARGUMENT.  OFFICIAL SOVIETS ARE CLAIMING THAT THE 
SOVIET UNION HAS DONE WHAT IT CAN TO INITIATE THE 
PROCESS AND CANNOT AFFORD TO MAKE LARGE UNILATERAL 
REDUCTIONS. 
 
7.  NORTHERN TERRITORIES 
/  -------------------- 
 
SARKISOV NOTED THAT MOSCOW WAS TRYING TO ESTABLISH 
MILITARY-TO-MILITARY CONTACTS.  THE JAPANESE WERE 
THINKING ABOUT IT BUT WERE STILL HESITANT "BECAUSE 
THEY WANT TO DO IT ONLY WITH YOU--AND WITHOUT YOUR OK 
THEY WON'T."  SARKISOV THOUGHT A MOMENT, THEN ADDED, 
"ALSO, THEY WANT A CONCESSION ON THE NORTHERN 
TERRITORIES."  BUT THERE WOULD BE NO PROGRESS ON THE 
NORTHERN TERRITORIES ISSUE WHEN SHEVARDNADZE GOES TO 
TOKYO IN MARCH, SARKISOV PREDICTED.  GROWING 
NATIONALISM MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE SOVIETS TO 
CONCEDE ON ETOROFU AND KUNASHIRI.  THE EMERGENCE OF 
THE SUPREME SOVIET FURTHER COMPLICATED THE ISSUE. 
AZERBAYDZHAN AND THE BALTICS WERE TOO CLOSELY 
CONNECTED TO THE N
ORTHERN TERRITORIES AND IT WOULD 
THEREFORE BE "ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE" TO GET A DEAL 
THROUGH THE SUPREME SOVIET.  MOSCOW WAS PREPARED TO 
OFFER JOINT ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND NO-VISA TRAVEL TO 
THE ISLANDS.  THE IDEA OF SELLING THEM TO JAPAN WAS A 
NON-STARTER.  FOR MOSCOW, IT WAS SIMPLY SAFER TO HOLD 
ON TO THE ISLANDS THAN TO OPEN POTENTIALLY EXPLOSIVE 
NEGOTIATIONS OR SELL THEM.  SHEVARDNADZE MIGHT, 
HOWEVER, REFORMULATE THE ISSUE IN MARCH SO THAT 
MOSCOW RECOGNIZED THE NORTHERN TERRITORIES 
SPECIFICALLY AS AN UNRESOLVED PROBLEM BETWEEN THE 
TWO COUNTRIES. 
 
8.  COMMENT:  ON THE NORTHERN TERRITORIES, RECENT 
COMMENTS MADE BY A NUMBER OF SOVIETS, INCLUDING 
GORBACHEV HIMSELF, ARE BEGINNING TO DEVELOP INTO A 
VAGUE PATTERN CENTERED ON SOVIET AIR POWER IN THE 
NORTHERN TERRITORIES.  ORIENTAL INSTITUTE ACTING 
DIRECTOR CHUFRIN POINTEDLY TOLD VISITING SENATOR 
WIRTH RECENTLY THAT U.S. WILLINGNESS TO START TALKING 
ABOUT ARMS CONTROL WOULD PROMPT SOVIET AIR FORCE 
REDUCTIONS IN THE REGION.  GORBACHEV TOLD ABE THAT 
JAPANESE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE GRAVE VISITS TO 
ETOROFU IN THE PAST BECAUSE OF MILITARY INSTALLATIONS 
THERE, BUT THAT THE SOVIETS WOULD "SEE WHAT THEY 
COULD DO" ABOUT THE PROBLEM.  IMEMO JAPAN EXPERT 
KUNADZE TOLD POLOFF GORBACHEV COULD NOT AFFORD AN 
UNSUCCESSFUL FOREIGN TRIP.  WE DO NOT THINK ANY 
DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE ON HOW TO MOVE THE NORTHERN 
TERRITORIES PROBLEM FORWARD, OR EVEN WHETHER IT 
SHOULD CONTINUE TO BE HANDLED AS A BILATERAL PROBLEM 
OR AS AN EAST-WEST ISSUE.  SOVIET DOMESTIC CONCERNS 
WOULD ARGUE FOR A CONTINUED BILATERAL APPROACH, WHILE 
SOVIET ARMS CONTROL OBJECTIVES COULD CLEARLY BENEFIT 
FROM ITS TREATMENT AS AN EAST-WEST ISSUE.  WE KNOW 
THAT HIGH LEVEL ATTENTION IS NOT FOCUSED ON THE 
NORTHERN TERRITORIES.  BUT IT WILL INCREASE AS THE 
TIME FOR GORBACHEV'S VISIT NEARS, AND THOSE TO WHOM 
THE LEADERSHIP TURNS FOR ANSWERS AT THAT TIME ARE NOW 
IN THE PROCESS OF SEEING WHAT WILL FLY--AND WHAT 
WON'T. 
 
MATLOCK 
 
 
NNNN

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