In This Review
Japan and Russia: A Reevalution in the Post-Soviet Era

Japan and Russia: A Reevalution in the Post-Soviet Era

By William F. Nimmo

Greenwood Press, 1994, 207 pp.

The author is an American historian who teaches both Japanese and Russian history and who lived, studied, and taught in Japan for 12 years. He is one of America's few experts on the critical relationship between Japan and Russia, a relationship that is bound to become more important in the post-Cold War era. The volume contains a solid discussion of the Russo-Japanese relationship up to 1945 and during the Stalin, Brezhnev and Gorbachev eras, and it concludes with a section on current and future relations between Yeltsin's Russia and Japan.

By quoting extensively from both Russian and Japanese sources, Nimmo provides important insights into the domestic factors on both sides that inhibit compromise on the territorial issue posed by the Kuril Islands. Opposition in Russia to any return of the disputed islands comes from nationalists, former communists, key regional and military officials, and, not least, the general public.

Meanwhile, in Japan the predominant view seems to be that Russia has not changed much in the post-communist era, that in any case it is politically unstable, and that the G-7 should not rush Japan into providing substantial aid to Russia. Both of these views are extremely shortsighted, as the author points out in a conclusion that urges Russia to return the islands and Japan to show goodwill through full participation in G-7 efforts to aid Russia.