A Roundtable on Russo-Japanese relations was held in the New Zealand capital of Wellington on March 30. It was hosted by the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, regularly ranked among the top 50 in the world in the social sciences and humanities. The twenty-five or so people in attendance included members of the Japanese Embassy, the Mexican Ambassador, ex-Foreign Ministry officials, and members of the Centre, guaranteeing a lively session. The main presentation by Professor Akihiro Iwashita was a version of an off-the-record talk he had given at Sasakawa USA’s offices in Washington DC at the end of February, analyzing the results of the Abe-Putin summit that had occurred in December of 2016. The talk argued that as it was to be held in the Prime Minister’s Residence, expectations for the Summit had been fanned by the media ahead of time, with little attention paid to Russia’s position going into the talks. Consequently, the results of Abe’s diplomacy have appeared relatively paltry in comparison to the optimism felt prior to Putin’s arrival.
The Roundtable was moderated by Alexander Bukh, an expert on both the Russo-Japanese and Japan-Korean territorial issues, and a regular visitor to our Center. It is anticipated that this roundtable will provide an opportunity for increased cooperation with colleagues in New Zealand, including among the policy world as well as across academia.