chapter  6
19 Pages

Russian North Korea policy: old conflicts obstacle for Russo-Japanese cooperation


A Russian proverb says: ‘You can’t throw out words from the song’ (in English, ‘A leopard cannot change its spots’). The proverb can be applied to illustrate the stances taken by the governments of Russia and Japan in their bilateral relations today and their unfortunate tendency to refer back to their military conflicts in the last century. Japan is the only country in East Asia that Russia was at war with several times in the twentieth century. Twice Russia had to conduct large-scale operations in Korea against Japan, in 1904-5, and in 1945. There were also limited military engagements between the USSR and Japan at the end of the 1930s, during the Japanese expansion in North-East Asia. Both countries participated in the Korean War of 1950-3, although Japan’s participation was quite limited.