In view of the events of last week, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered armed forces into Ukraine, we are providing an overview of the energy and commodity ties between Russia and Japan, as well as a basic assessment of potential sanctions.
Russia is one of the world’s most significant suppliers of oil, gas, coal and metals. It is not, however, a significant energy supplier to Japan, despite being a neighbor. In part, this is due to the fact that political relations between two nations have been limited by a number of key factors.
In additions to this, Japan is host to U.S. armed forces and is arguably the closest American ally in the Pacific. Another is a post-World War II territorial dispute over the islands north of Hokkaido that Russia calls the Kurils and Japan the “Northern Territories”.
The island chain is close to rich fishing grounds and may have claim to offshore oil and gas reserves, but the resources are not well known and are not thought to be the major issue. The islands have symbolic meaning to both sides.