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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Japan and the Development of Siberia and the Russian Far East: The Evolution of the Large-Scale Economic Cooperation Projects (1968- 1995)

July 29, 1998 / 6.30 P.M.

Frank Robaschik, Duisburg University

In the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s, the perspectives of economic cooperation between Siberia and the Russian Far East, which were rich in resources but poor in capital to exploit them, and Japan, which was poor in resources but rich in capital, looked very promising. A number of large-scale economic cooperation projects were concluded. But since the end of the1970s, not much was to hear about the projects anymore. What has happened to them? How did they adapt to the new situation in the 1990s? The emphasis of my talk will be on the implementation stage of these projects and on the factors which contributed to their success or failure. I will argue that the compensation scheme was a good form of economic cooperation until the mid-1980s. Since then, however, shrinking demand for Russian raw materials in Japan and the abolition of the state monopoly of foreign trade in Russia have changed the situation. As an alternative to the previous large-scale compensation scheme, new areas (for example, the export of nonferrous metals etc.) and new forms of economic cooperation (smaller projects, multinational projects etc.) seem to be more promising. Moreover, a glance at the participants in the projects shows a number of problems on the Russian side since the collapse of the old structures of foreign trade. For larger projects, a better coordination between central and local governments is needed. On the political level, the only problem that has influenced the implementation of the projects was the state of US-Soviet/Russian relations. There was no influence of the territorial problem between Japan and The Soviet Union/Russia.Rather the opposite is the case – a succesful implementation of the Sakhalin projects can help to improve the state of the political relations between Japan and Russia, perhaps even alleviate the interest conflict around the territorial problem.

Frank Robaschik is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Economics,University of Duisburg, Germany, and is currently conducting research atKei・University’s Graduate School of Economics.