Would joint-economic activities in Northern Territories be the first step for Japan to build a way to wisely live together with its neighbors?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 26 – 30 June

27 Jun. Departure of the group for site investigation for the Russian-occupied Northern Territories, looking into possibility of joint-economic activities

A public-private joint investigating group to move forwardjoint economic activitiesin the four northern Islands left Nemuro-shi, Hokkaido by boat on 27th of June. The group will visit  three islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan until July 1. They will investigate a way to develop businesses in three areas of “fishery and food processing”, “energy and infrastructure” and “Tourism, real and medical services”.

It is a good idea to pursue economic solutions that would benefit both Japan and Russia.

The Northern Territories have been over dispute between the two countries since the WWII. While there has been sensitive power politics involved, this is a high-level story. People on the ground needed industrial and social development, as well as means to benefit from the rich resources from the sea.

The national border has been an absolute barrier for the Japan as the country is surrounded by the sea. The sea protected Japan from foreign invasion for centuries, while kept Japan isolated from the rest of the world at the same time.

Those days are gone.

One can easily travel over the sea by airplanes. One enjoys information exchange over the Internet without traveling over the sea.

It’s time for Japan to learn how to better live with neighboring countries.

In this regard, the Japanese have much to learn from Europe, especially small countries. The Europeans, especially those in small countries, know how to live with strong neighbors well having learnt from the history.

For example, the Canton of Geneva is surrounded by French territory by 80% of its border. Geneva is connected with the rest of Switzerland for only 20% of its Cantonal border. Naturally about 70,000 people commute to Geneva from neighboring France everyday. These people are called “Frontiers”, are granted with their proper work permit  and have a special tax status.

In terms of politics, national boundaries are soft in Europe. Boundaries have been changed over centuries. They are never solid iron walls.

It is often economic benefits that softened boundaries, the EU a typical example.

It is time for Japan to learn how they may benefit from the region by sharing benefits with its neighbors.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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