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Russia and Japan are deepening economic cooperation

Russian-Japanese ties in business are moving ahead at a healthy pace




(New Eastern Outlook) – As is well known, both the geographical position of Japan and its need for the import of hydrocarbon fuels have facilitated the development of relations of that country with Russia. Only the long-standing Kuril Islands dispute stopped Japan from becoming one of the main Russian economic partners even several decades ago.

Not having their own hydrocarbon resources, the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, nevertheless, established one of the most powerful industries in the world, by importing fuel from various countries. Whereby Russia, traditionally rich in oil and gas, although a neighbor of Japan, is not included into the list of its main suppliers, all due to somewhat clouded relationship that formed between the two countries after the Second World War.

Now, the main supplier of hydrocarbons to Japan is the Middle East region. The maritime delivery of the large shipments of energy carriers along the whole of the southern coast of Eurasia has always been difficult and costly. In the recent years, several factors emerged that make it even less convenient. One can refer to the instability and the terrorist threat in the Middle East, as well as the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR). Japan, discomforted by the strengthening of China’s positions across the whole of Asia, is not particularly enthusiastic about OBOR and its subproject ‘The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’, which is aiming at uniting all the maritime routes along the coast of Eurasia into a single system, including the routes by which Japan is getting the hydrocarbons from the Middle East. China brings under control the key ports on this route, and Japan has started to be concerned over its energy security. All this is happening against the background of weakening the positions of the USA in the Indo-Pacific region, who is considered the traditional Japanese ally and partner. Obviously, all these processes in their integrity make Japan take a fresh look at its relations with Russia. Now, the cooperation between Russia and the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ is actively being promoted, in the spheres of energy, finances and transportation.

The end of 2017 was remarkable by much news on the Russian-Japanese co-operation. This is related to the regular meeting of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov and TarōKōno from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, that took place on 24th November in Moscow. The two ministers discussed in detail the array of issues on the bilateral interaction, including the prospects of the joint economic activity on the Kuril Islands.

On the same day, the 13th meeting of the Russian-Japanese Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Issues took place, where the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Igor Shuvalov and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Tarō Kōno were present. The issues of Russian-Japanese co-operation in the sphere of transport, energy and high technologies were discussed. The following topics were touched upon: participation of Japan in the development of Arctic gas fields and in the development of the Russian Far East, joint investment projects and many other issues. Upon conclusion of the meeting, Tarō Kōno announced that the Russian-Japanese relations have a huge potential, and that it is necessary to do everything possible for its implementation.

Soon after the meeting by both the heads of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission, one news after another started to emerge in the mass media, regarding the co-operation of the major Russian and Japanese companies.

In early December 2017, in Moscow, the Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, Alexey Miller met Nobuhide Hayashi, Chairman at Mizuho Bank Ltd. Mizuho Bank Ltd. is one of the largest financial organizations in Japan, with which Gazprom has been successfully co-operating since 1999. The topic for negotiations was the possibility for capital participation of Mizuho Bank in the strategic projects of Gazprom, whereby the Russian corporation is going to start working on these projects in 2018. Mizuho Bank can invest its facilities into such projects as gas pipeline ‘Power of Siberia-1’, TurkStream, Nord Stream 2, Amur Gaz Processing Plant and others.

At the same time, the mass media informed us of the commencement of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production on the first processing train of the new Russian plant built on the Yamal Peninsula within the framework of the project ‘Yamal LNG’. This plant is being built with the participation of Russian and foreign companies, using the South Tambey Field as a resource base in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District of the Russian Federation. As soon as on 8th December 2017, the first loading of LNG was launched onto the tanker in Sabetta – the Russian Arctic port in the center of the Northern Sea Route. The launch of the second and third parts of the projects, known as processing trains, is scheduled for 2018-19, however the operational capacity is already sufficient to produce 5.5 million tons of LNG per year. The joint-venture parties – the Japanese construction companies JGC Corporation and Chiyoda Corporation, who have completed numerous projects in the gas industry, participated in the development of the Yamal LNG Project.

As is well known, Japan is included into the list of the major global importers of LNG, whereby it is much closer to the Northern Sea Route than China and South Korea. Possibly, it will be the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ that will become the main consumer of Yamal LNG.

The Yamal project (ОАО ‘Yamal LNG’) is majority owned by the private Russian gas company Novatek, which is the second largest gas producer in the Russian Federation. It actively participated in the development of gas fields of the Far North of Russia and in the development of the Northern Sea Route. Novatek pursues strategic co-operation with the Japanese partners: in late November 2017, it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. The three companies are intending to explore options for a liquefied natural gas complex in Russia’s Kamchatka Region, envisaging both transshipping and marketing. According to the plan, LNG brought by ice-breaking tankers along the Northern Sea Route, will be reloaded onto the conventional tankers to reduce the carrier cost. From this point, LNG will be delivered to all the interested countries of Asia-Pacific Region, first to Japan, territorially close to Kamchatka Region. It is expected that the Japanese companies will make major investments into the project. Also, it is reported that the project received support of the Kamchatka Region government, as part of the gas will be used for the needs of this region of the Russian Federation.

Transport is one more important sphere of the Russian-Japanese co-operation. As it was mentioned above, China and its ‘The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’ play an increasingly significant role in the maritime cargo traffic along the southern coast of Eurasia, in which Japan does not wish to participate as the junior partner. It is not impossible that the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ will need alternative routes of communication with the countries of the Eurasian continent, free from the Chinese influence. Regarding this, Japan shows interest for the Russian Trans-Siberian Railway, as well as for the Northern Sea Route going along the northern coast of Eurasia. In early December 2017, the Holding ‘Russian Railways’ announced the creation of ‘one stop shop’ for Japanese companies intending to deliver cargos to Russia and Europe via the ports of the Russian Far East along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Representatives of Japanese companies can receive any necessary information on transport management via the territory of the Russian Federation, within a short time.

In mid-December 2017, it became known that the major Japanese trading companies SBI Holdings and Hokkaido Corporation decided to unite their efforts to provide assistance to small Japanese companies wishing to do business in Russia. The firms wishing to open their facilities and conduct business on the territory of the Russian Federation, will be given financial and informational support.

Thus, one can draw a conclusion that Russian-Japanese relations are likely to experience a prosperity phase. It is to be hoped that the parties will be able to consolidate the achieved success, and the co-operation of Russian and Japan will be developing steadily towards the mutual benefit and for the good of the whole Asia-Pacific Region.

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.



Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops occupying Idlib will take control over that land, and have responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet.

Eric Zuesse



As I recommended in a post on September 10th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan jointly announced on September 17th, “We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide,” which compares to the Korean DMZ’s 4-km width. I had had in mind the Korean experience, but obviously Putin and Erdogan are much better-informed about the situation than I am, and they have chosen a DMZ that’s four to five times wider. In any case, the consequences of such a decision will be momentous, unless U.S. President Donald Trump is so determined for there to be World War III as to stop at nothing in order to force it to happen no matter what Russia does or doesn’t do.

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops who now are occupying Idlib province of Syria will take control over that land, and will thus have the responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet: Idlib. It contains the surviving Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters, including all of the ones throughout Syria who surrendered to the Syrian Army rather than be shot dead on the spot by Government forces.

For its part, the U.S. Government, backed by its allies and supported in this by high officials of the United Nations, had repeatedly threatened that if there occurs any chemical-weapons attack, or even any claimed chemical-weapons attack, inside Idlib, the U.S. and its allies will instantaneously blame the Syrian Government and bomb Syria, and will shoot down the planes of Syria and of Russia that oppose this bombing-campaign to conquer or ‘liberate’ Syria from its Government. The U.S. has announced its determination to protect what one high U.S. official — who is endorsing what Trump is doing there — “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” He admits it, but he wants to protect them from being bombed by Syria and by Russia.

During recent weeks, the U.S. military has increasingly said that even if the jihadists they’ve been assisting to assemble the materials for a chemical-weapons attack fail to carry it out or to stage one, any attempt by Syrian and Russian forces to destroy the jihadists (which the U.S. side calls ‘rebels’) in Idlib will be met with overwhelming U.S.-and-allied firepower. That would spark WW III, because whichever side — Russia or U.S. — loses in the Syrian battlefield will nuclear-blitz-attack the other side so as to have the lesser damage from the nuclear war and thus (in military terms) ‘win’ WW III, because the blitz-attack will destroy many of the opposite side’s retaliatory weapons. In a nuclear war, the first side to attack will have a considerable advantage — reducing the number of weapons the other side can launch.

If, on the other hand, the DMZ-plan works, then Turkey’s forces will be responsible for vetting any of Idlib’s residents who try to leave, in order to prohibit jihadists and their supporters from leaving. Once that task (filtering out the non-dangerous inhabitants and retaining in Idlib only the jihadists and their supporters) is done, the entire world might be consulted on whether to exterminate the remaining residents or to set them free to return to the countries from which they came or to other countries. Presumably, no country would want those ‘refugees’. That would answer the question.

America’s Arab allies, the oil monarchies such as the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia and the Thanis who own Qatar, and which have funded Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, would then be put on a spot, because if they say “Exterminate them!” then their clergy who have provided the moral imprimatur upon those families’ ownership of those nations, will either be in rebellion or else will themselves become overthrown either by their own followers or else by their monarch — overthrown from below or from above.

Alternatively, after Turkey’s forces in Idlib will have allowed release from Idlib of all who will be allowed out, Syria’s and Russia’s bombers will simply go in and slaughter the then-surrounded jihadists and take upon themselves the responsibility for that, regardless of what the leaders of the U.S. and its allied governments might say.

On the night of September 17th in Syria, there were missile-attacks “from the sea” against several Syrian cities; and those attacks could have come from either Israel’s or America’s ships, or from other U.S.-allied ships. Russian Television bannered, “Russian plane disappears from radars during Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia – MoD” and reported:

A Russian military Il-20 aircraft with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD.Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17. …
The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province

If the missiles were authorized by President Trump, then WW III has already begun in its pre-nuclear stage. However, if the attacks were launched by Israel’s Netanyahu, and/or by France’s Macron, without U.S. authorization, then the U.S. President might respond to them by siding against that aggressor(s) (and also against what he used to call “Radical Islamic Terrorists”), so as to prevent a nuclear war.

Late on September 17th, Al Masdar News bannered “NATO warships move towards Syrian coast” and reported “The NATO flotilla cruising off the Syrian coast reportedly consists of a Dutch frigate, the De Ruyter, a Canadian frigate, the Ville de Quebec, and a Greek cruiser, the Elli.” Al Qaeda and ISIS have influential protectors.

Ultimately, the decision will be U.S. President Trump’s as to whether he is willing to subject the planet to WW III and to its following nuclear winter and consequent die-off of agriculture and of everyone, in order to ‘win’ a nuclear war, such as America’s aristocracy has especially championed since the year 2006. The nuclear-victory concept is called “Nuclear Primacy” — the use of nuclear weapons so as to win a nuclear war against Russia, instead of to prevent a nuclear war. That concept’s predecessor, the “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “M.A.D.” meta-strategy, predominated even in the U.S. until 2006. Trump will have to decide whether the purpose of America’s nuclear-weapons stockpiles is to prevent WW III, or is to win WW III.

In Russia, the purpose has always been to have nuclear weapons in order to prevent WW III. But America’s President will be the person who will make the ultimate decision on this. And Idlib might be the spark. Netanyahu or Macron might be wanting to drag the U.S. into war even against Russia, but the final decision will be Trump’s.

The ultimate question is: How far will the U.S. go in order to continue the U.S. dollar as being the overwhelmingly dominant global currency?


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Russian MoD: Il-20 downed by Syrian missile after attacking Israel’s F-16s used it as cover

Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces.

The Duran



Russia has stated that it “reserves right to response” after claiming that Israel’s actions led to downing of Il-20 by Syrian S-200 missiles.

The Russian military accused their Israeli counterparts for causing the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane by the Syrian air defense forces, which were responding to an Israeli air raid on Latakia.

Via RT

The Russian military say the Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events, which led to the shooting down of a Russian Il-20 plane by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

On Monday evening four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes came at a small altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region”, it said.

The military said the French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area of the Israeli operation.

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” the statement said.

The Russian ministry stressed that the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, which didn’t stop them from “the provocation”. Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,” the statement said.

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