Tag Archives: Japan

Japan ignoring price cap, paying 16% more for Russian oil

However, what the US political establishment is afraid of is that others will soon follow Japan’s example.

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

On April 3, the Wall Street Journal reported that Japan, one of the most prominent US vassal states, is now buying Russian oil at prices significantly above the illegal US/EU cap, effectively breaking the sanctions imposed by the political West. According to the report, Japan also got Washington DC to agree to the exception, claiming that the move was aimed at maintaining the energy security of Japan.

The concession outlines just how dependent Tokyo is on Russia for fossil fuels. WSJ claims that (Western) analysts think this contributed to “a lot of hesitancy” in Tokyo to back the Kiev regime more decisively. It also exposes the political West, which realized that the price cap was essentially meaningless and was put together hastily in a way it doesn’t actually have any negative impact on Russian energy exports, serving as a symbolic attempt to maintain the illusion of the power of Western sanctions.

However, the ongoing energy costs surge means that unless the illegal price cap is lifted, the political West is very close to “shooting itself in the foot”. In fact, unlike most European/Western countries that are claiming to have reduced their reliance on Russian energy, Japan has actually increased its import of Russian natural gas in 2022. Apparently, Tokyo is also the only G-7 member that is yet to supply lethal weapons to the Neo-Nazi junta, while Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was the last G-7 leader to visit Kiev after the start of the SMO (special military operation). The move was widely seen as a futile attempt to mirror the much more consequential meeting between Vladimir  Putin and Xi Jinping. Luckily for Japan, the Kishidа government still hasn’t changed its stance on transferring so-called “lethal aid” to the Kiev regime.

This is crucial for the country’s economy, as in the first two months of 2023 alone, Japan bought approximately 750,000 barrels of Russian oil for a total of ¥6.9 billion (Japanese yen), according to official trade statistics. At the current exchange rate, that is close to $52 million or just under $70 a barrel, which is over 16% higher than the fantasy price cap the political West’s leaders were boasting about and how it “limited Russia’s revenues”. And while Tokyo rejects the notion that it’s so dependent on Russia for its energy security, the fact that it asked its US overlords for a price cap exemption is a testament to that. However, the mainstream propaganda machine is still adamant that Japan is an “avid supporter of Ukrainian democracy and freedom”.

Still, this is no more than empty rhetoric, as the oil purchases authorized by Washington DC are a significant break from the declared “red lines” on the illegal Russian energy price cap, which currently stands at $60 per barrel for Russian crude oil. Last year, Japan was granted an exception to the cap by September 30 for oil purchased from the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia’s Far East. An official of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that Tokyo wanted to ensure access to Sakhalin-2’s main product, natural gas, which is liquefied and then shipped to Japan. “We have done this with an eye toward having a stable supply of energy for Japan,” the official said. Tokyo has also been a major contributor to the project which was originally aimed at Japan’s energy security.

The unnamed official stated that a small quantity of crude oil is also being extracted alongside natural gas at Sakhalin-2 and needs to be sold to ensure LNG (liquefied natural gas) production continues. “The price is decided by negotiations between the two parties,” he said. Russia accounts for approximately 10% of Tokyo’s LNG imports, most of it from Sakhalin-2, while Japanese imports of natural gas in 2022 were 4.6% greater than in 2021. Tokyo seems to be trying to avoid Germany’s fate, as Berlin, which relied on Moscow for 55% of its natural-gas imports in previous years, has been completely cut off from Russian natural gas through self-imposed embargoes and US terrorist attacks on both Nord Stream pipelines.

As Germany has replaced its reliance on much cheaper Russian gas with US LNG shipments, which are significantly more expensive, this is taking a toll on the already struggling German economy. Many US experts and policymakers are upset that Japan is refusing to do the same. “It’s not as if Japan can’t manage without this. They can. They simply don’t want to,” James Brown, a professor at Temple University’s Japan campus claims. Brown wants Tokyo to withdraw from the Sakhalin projects to show “they’re really serious about supporting Ukraine”. However, Tokyo is extremely reluctant to exit a project in which it has invested substantial resources and that has been ensuring its energy security since the 1990s.

However, what the US political establishment is afraid of is that others will soon follow Japan’s example. Once the Russian Urals surges past $60 per barrel, others will be affected by potential sanctions, meaning that Washington DC and Brussels will need to do some explaining on how and why Japan is allowed to buy Russian oil while being unaffected by the price cap, but they can’t. As a result, the affected countries will not only start distancing themselves from the West politically, but also economically and financially, as paying $70 or even $80 per barrel for Russian crude is a very tempting alternative to the more expensive Saudi or Norwegian oil.

Japan and Britain sign military agreement aimed at containing China and Russia

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher

The Prime Ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom signed an agreement on January 11 to formalise a military alliance between their two countries. The agreement, signed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, stipulates joint military exercises, permits the deployment of troops in their countries, and determines the legal status of these personnel while they are abroad.

At the signing ceremony, Sunak said: “In the past 12 months, we have written the next chapter of the relationship between the UK and Japan – accelerating, building, and deepening our ties. We have so much in common: a shared outlook on the world, a shared understanding of the threats and challenges we face, and a shared ambition to use our place in the world for global good, ensuring our countries prosper for generations to come.”

As for challenges and threats, London and Tokyo believe they come mainly from China and Russia, and to a lesser extent North Korea.

James Crisp, a correspondent for The Telegraph, wrote: “Rishi Sunak and Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, signed a defence agreement in London that will provide the bedrock for large-scale drills to face down Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.”

For her part, Hikariko Ono, Kishida’s press secretary, said “Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing that China and Russia have been conducting joint military drills very frequently.” She then criticised North Korea’s missile tests. 

More alarmingly for Moscow-Tokyo relations, the Telegraph reported that the new deal will allow Japanese troops to be based in the UK where they could help train Ukrainian soldiers alongside other nations, as well as British troops to be stationed in Japan. Despite the fact that the individual military power of China, Russia and North Korea far exceeds that of Japan, none of these countries are threatening an invasion or making territorial claims – in fact, it is Japan that has a longer history of attacking or threatening these countries.

However, Japan can attempt to justify its militarisation as it does neighbour three nuclear powers, two of which are ranked #2 (Russia) and #3 (China) according to Global Fire Power’s 2023 Military Strength Ranking. Proving that China, North Korea, and Russia also pose a threat to the UK is even more difficult considering the vast geographical distances.

Not long ago, under the David Cameron government (2010-2016), relations between London and Beijing were described as being in a “Golden Age” because of close economic ties. When Donald Trump entered the White House in 2017, Britain quickly submitted to his anti-China policy. Like Washington, the British attacked the communist ideology of China’s ruling party and alleged human rights violations. Sunak also emphasised the common values ​​of the British and Japanese ruling classes, which are conservative liberalism and anti-communism.

However, it was not just the interests of defending Western values ​​that prompted London to sign a new military agreement with Tokyo. The military cooperation agreement with Japan confirms that the UK intends to reclaim a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region. It can be said that this has been somewhat successful in the military front as British warships and aircraft repeatedly and provocatively pass through the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, and then into Japanese ports. 

London also intends to expand its economic presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The British government has repeatedly signalled that they want their country to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

In this way, a new military alliance is being formed with the clear objective of opposing some sovereign states. It is recalled that Tokyo signed a defence alliance with Australia in 2022 and it is likely that the Japanese government will sign similar agreements with other Western countries. 

The US encourages close military ties between Japan and Britain as it serves its wider strategy to oppose and contain China and Russia in the Pacific region. It is for this reason that the AUKUS (Australia, UK, and USA) formation was established in September 2021, which was preceded by the foundation of QUAD (Australia, India, Japan, and USA) in 2017.

Washington encourages enhanced defence cooperation between London and Tokyo. A greater British military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and a Japan with a more powerful military means that the US will waste less resources. It will also advance the US’ strategy to confront and contain China and Russia.

However, if stability and security worsen as a result of the British-Japanese military agreement, regional countries, particularly those in Southeast Asia, will begin opposing such an alliance. This could have the opposite effect from Washington’s anticipated hope of having Japan and the UK cooperate in policing the western Pacific, especially as regional states are unwilling to cut ties with China and Russia.

Russian, Chinese Bombers Land At Each Other’s Airfields After Joint Patrols

For the first time in military history, Russian Tu-95MS strategic bombers landed at the Chinese Hanghzhou Air Base in the Zhejiang suburb. At the same time, Chinese bombers Xian H-6 landed on a Russian air base in Vladivostok.

This is a high-profile move: Russian strategic bombers that landed at PLA airport also carry nuclear bombs. Russia has sent a message to the United States and NATO that its nuclear umbrella will cover China if needed.

Prior to that, the Russian Aerospace Forces and the PLA Air Force carried out a joint patrol in the Asia-Pacific region, passing Kia.

It is clear that the Russians and Chinese have carried out a virtual bombing operation in Korea and Japan, showing that they will not allow me to do so.

The common air force included six Russian Tu-95MS strategies and two Chinese strategic H-6 bombers. In some areas, the team was accompanied by multi-role Su-30SM and Su-35S fighters of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Operation Russia and China lasted 8 hours on an intermediate landing at PLA military airport while Chinese bombardment. Russians and Chinese gave no details but only some videos.

“ For the first time during joint air patrols, Russian aircraft landed at an airport in the People’s Republic of China and Chinese refers to the announcement of the Ministry of Defense.

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