The strange sacking of Japan veteran ambassador from Moscow
Ambassador Kono Masaharu, "he forced the respect of the international diplomats community"
Masaharu Kono is a top class diplomat and if he is fired all of a sudden by the prime minister Kan's administration it is an other failure of Japan's diplomacy led by amateurs and the "fait du Prince" being here Prime Minister Kan who has been unable to establish a clear communication with his veteran diplomats and diplomatic experts. But it is also because the Russian school (and the China school) has been destroyed within the Gaimusho unilaterally glooming about Washington for defining what the policy would be, as watchers and experts stated*.
Top class diplomat, Kono accumulated success in his career to establish good relations with Europe, US, and succeeded as the number 1 policy maker for Africa. Kono made it possible for Japan to safely organize several difficult partnerships with the black continent and made TICAD aid conference on Africa a diplomatic accomplishment under popular prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Not an easy task with demanding African nations. Still this Japanese government has decided to fire its ambassador to Russia for a strange motive that won't convince much specialists of the Far-East and Russia.
Officially? For failure to timely inform Tokyo about the visit of Russian President Dimitry Medvedev to one of the four disputed Kuril Islands in November...! Critics claim this is an other blunder of the Kan administration in establishing a proper diplomatic course, necessary funding, clear communication vis a vis the nations and the media, domestic or foreign, and serious objectives. All of this happening while in a period of high risk as seen on the Korean peninsula, China Japan sour relationship, and US and Japan fuzzy alliance with the Okinawa US bases problematic issue etc. Naturally attention is focussed on the PM Kan and his minister of Foreign Affairs Maehara's motives.
Russia President Dimitry Medvedev during his visit to the Southern Kuril Islands
According to briefing given to the Japanese media, the Japanese government is trying to rebuild its Russia policy under pressure from Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, according to Kyodo sources. It is during a meeting on Wednesday, that Kan's government concluded that Japan's diplomatic mission in Russia, headed by Ambassador Masaharu Kono, "misled the Japanese Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister Naoto Kan by reporting that the Russian president did not plan to visit southern Kurils." "This failure prevented Japanese authorities from promptly assessing the situation and taking appropriate steps, the Yomiuri newspaper wrote, quoting official sources."
Now, who gives orders to ambassadors if not the top hands of the Gaimusho and the government? Since the policy is established by high officials of ministries under the guidance of the executive power. This dismissal bears traces of a sulphuric mishandling of major diplomatic course. Why? If the government is unable to read in his own manifesto or guidelines, it makes even more difficult to the ministries to clarify the policy to implement. So, one has to be the scapegoat, in this case ambassador Kono is beheaded. But other things appear in the background.
Japanese media write that "Medvedev's visit to Kunashiri Island infuriated Japanese politicians, and the right wing medias while the Kremlin said the Russian president "could travel freely around his own country", and does not have to share his travel plans with anybody."
For the record, Japan and Russia both claim to the islands since they were annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The dispute over the 4 "northern islands" has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities.
Russian officials have been courting Japanese investors into joining the Sakhaline projects
Such a decision is also related to the destruction of a coherent Japan Russia policy. Both countries entered a diplomatic impasse while successful contracts have allowed Japan to guarantee safe supplies of oil and gas. Someone lost something here...?
A reason sufficient enough to cause very serious concerns among Japan's partners as seen with the startup this year of East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) shipments from Siberia which has positioned Russia to add to its established role of LNG provider and become an increasingly important supplier of crude oil to Japan, which has traditionally depended on the Middle East for most of its imports. Making the US repressive influence in the Arabic and central Asia region less coherent for Japan. Japan is the world's third largest consumer of oil, following the United States and China. The average daily consumption of oil in Japan in 2009 was 4,400 barrels per day, or about 219 million tons for the entire year. Japan imports roughly 90 percent of this amount.
There are certainly other issues, we'll have more later on this sudden recall which is to infuriate further more Japan's civil servants, the energy industry and the bankers. On this read http://bit.ly/igAMQk
Ambassador Kono, often praised by JICA chief Mrs Ogata is said by media to be likely replaced by current Japanese Ambassador to the Czech Republic Chikahito Harada. Both know each other. Mr. Harada served under ambassador Kono.
*Read on this the excellent post on the NBR forum by ex Ambassador Togo and professor Clark
Sources: Kyodo, Nikkei, Yomiuri, Ria novosti.
oilandgaseurasia.com, Reporter's notes.