Recent Views in Japan Concerning Sino-Russian Relations

How Japanese officials, media, and academics interpret the state of the relationship between China and Russia matters for Japan’s diplomacy with both countries and its foreign policy more generally, including with the United States. If they see a strong bond verging on an alliance with little chance of weakening, then Tokyo must accept that it has few options other than to draw closer to the United States and stress ties to other Asian states to limit the reach of China and Russia separately and together. If Russia is nervous about the widening power gap with China and looking for other states to balance China, then Tokyo’s diplomatic options with Moscow widen. Given the recent priority on improving relations with Russia, analysis of Sino-Russian ties is worthy of close examination in order to grasp the logic of Japanese expectations.

One possibility is that Japanese studies of Sino-Russian relations have offered hope that Putin is amenable to a breakthrough with Abe for geopolitical, not only for the obvious economic reasons. This could be based on geo-economic reasoning that it is important not to be dependent on just one large-scale energy consumer in Asia and not to develop Russia’s infrastructure for energy and transportation in a manner that raises the danger of overdependence. Another possibility is that Russians view the growing military power of China with concern and seek strategic ties with other major countries in East Asia. A third possibility is China’s regional centrality is rising to the point that Russia is in doubt that it will maintain leverage in Northeast and Southeast Asia; so, closer ties with Japan can facilitate such leverage. Finally, there is the possibility that Russia views China’s identity aspirations with concern, fearing that they lead to Sinocentrism and, possibly, revanchism, as well as unequal ties that oblige Russia to be deferential. If Japanese detect any of these worries from the Russian side, they may make decisions about policy toward Russia accordingly.

Specialized academic and think tank publications that often could be expected to cover Sino-Russian ties as they are evolving in the 21st century are hard to find in Japan. For infrequent, policy-relevant observations, one must turn to specialists on either the foreign policy of Russia or that of China as well as some with broader approaches to international relations. Sometimes, their articles appear in monthly periodicals. At other times, they write a column for one of the major newspapers. The journal Gaiko, published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is also a place to look. Occasional books have appeared on Sino-Russian relations. In this article, I scrutinize recent publications to gain insight into the limited Japanese debate.

The Overall Perspective on Sino-Russian Relations

In recent years, especially since 2014, after Russia was hit with economic sanctions from the major countries of Europe and the United States due to the exacerbation of the Ukraine crisis, Sino-Russian relations drew closer. For Japan, this honeymoon is definitely undesirable—both are neighbors and regional great powers. Despite the fact that it is important that good relations be maintained with both for political, economic, and security reasons, the reality has been that problems and tensions have kept arising. Many disadvantages for Japan arise from the shared interests of China and Russia—economic cooperation, historical consciousness, or international strategy (notably for a multipolar world opposed to a US unipolar one). Especially troublesome for Japan is the shared historical consciousness of China and Russia, i.e., it was the Soviet Union (Russia) and China that have defended peace in Asia after WWII, and insistence that today’s international borders are the result of WWII. In this way, they end up suggesting parallels between the Northern Territories, which Japan continues to demand be returned as its inherent territory by Russia, and the Senkaku Islands issue, which China and Taiwan insist are their territory. China and Russia have recently made overlapping assertions regarding historical consciousness and legitimizing their territorial rights to the Northern Territories and the Senkaku Islands on the occasion of commemorations of their victories in what Russia calls the Great Fatherland War and the War against Japan. In 2015, when Putin and Xi Jinping joined in reviewing parades in their respective countries and in making statements about the war, Japanese observers reacted nervously. By ganging up on Japan, the two countries add to the risks Japan is facing. This is a common theme in many Japanese publications, which have appeared recently.

The ups and downs of talks between Japan and Russia since 2013 have shaped the way some authors have viewed Sino-Russian ties. When there is greater optimism about Putin and Abe reaching a breakthrough, there is more reason to anticipate that Russia is wary of China and Sino-Russian relations are not so strong, but when the mood in Japan grows more doubtful about Putin’s willingness to cut a deal, then it is tempting to attribute the cause to the strength of Sino-Russian relations. Those who are optimistic about the Abe-Putin talks, regardless of ups and downs, tend to have a different assessment of Sino-Russian relations than the pessimists in Japan.

Until mid-November 2016, the Abe administration was waiting expectantly on the basis of Abe’s 8-point economic cooperation plan to deepen Japan-Russia relations for a decision by Putin during his December visit to Japan, to return, in accord with Abe’s entreaties, at a minimum, the two islands of Habomai and Shikotan. Around that time, however, Putin’s posture hardened, e.g., even if two islands were to be handed over to Japan, he began to emphasize that there was no provision written for transferring sovereignty, and it would, for perpetuity, remain with Russia, and even in joint economic activity on the Northern Territories, it was proposed that this would have to go forward on the basis of Russian law. Putin cited the necessity of a long term of trust-building, similar to what had led to the demarcation on the Sino-Russian border in 2004, as required for Russia to accept talks with Japan on the territorial questions. For the 8-point economic cooperation plan, which Abe had proposed at the May 2016 summit, after the two sides had agreed on about 80 projects, Japan’s total sum for cooperation was set at a scale of 300 billion yen. But the scale of Russia’s economic cooperation with China and Japan is very different Thus, if one considers recent Japan-Russian relations, some reason, that it would be correct to conclude they have little influence on Sino-Russian relations. Yet, that is not the thinking of others, who sense an opportunity. Below I introduce discussions in Japan, showing how they responded to the major events in recent Sino-Russian relations and clarifying the views concerning prospects for Sino-Russian relations.

What Is Stressed by Japan’s Main Discussants

At the level of Japanese news reports, it is generally noted that recent Sino-Russian relations are extremely good and deep, but researchers, overall, consider them to be rather cool, overwhelmingly to the effect that they are not based on mutual trust relations, but, rather, are forced by strategic and economic necessity. For example, recently Hyodo Shinji said that the reality is that it is a “marriage of convenience without divorce,” founded for two reasons: utilitarian cooperation for Russia to supply natural resources and arms to China, and strategic coordination to contain the United States. In the midst of China’s rapid economic development and rising international influence, it has become difficult to sustain a condition of equality in Sino-Russian relations, and Russia is thinking about how to avoid becoming only a junior partner of China. For that reason, in order to balance its relations with China, Russia is linking up with other Asian states to counter China—an opening for Japan.1

Also, in my writings, I have explained that China and Russia are both opposed to a unilateral world led by the United States, share the goal of forging a multipolar world, and, although they have deepened ties through economic cooperation and trade in Russia’s energy, Russia clearly shows antipathy to actions by China that try to encroach on Russia’s sphere of influence. Thus, at the regional level, it is widely discussed that they oppose each other.2 For example, one can observe a situation like this in their persistent struggle for leadership in both the SCO and BRICS. Such doubts about the prospects of Sino-Russian ties frequently appear in Japan.

Much media coverage is based on these sorts of conclusions. China and Russia are seen as two distinct civilizations with sharply divergent national interests. Without going into detail about the nature of the relationship—either the sort of agreements that have been reached or the national identity foundation driving them to turn to each other—, many assume considerable fragility plagues this partnership, which lies behind Putin’s perceived receptivity to Abe’s overtures and their promise.

Shimotomai Nobuo takes a macro approach to Sino-Russian relations, explaining Russia’s foreign (leaving Europe, entering Asia) policy, as alarmed about China in security, while feeling the great appeal of strengthening economic relations with China. As a result, Russia is hoping for triangular relations with Russia, Japan, and China.3 Ishigooka Ken has the same outlook, while capturing the greater dynamism of Sino-Russian relations.4 There is also Horie Norio, who studies Sino-Russian relations not from the state level, but from the regional level. Through fieldwork in the border area, he researches the rise in both concrete economic exchanges and mutual dependency, as well as the movement of people.5 Iwashita Akihiro pays attention to the border area, explaining through fieldwork how the border question was resolved and how linkages are made between the local and national levels in Sino-Russian relations. He was the first commentator to make the proposal that the Northern Territories could be better resolved through the “return of three islands.”6 In this way, the positions of Japanese researchers can be seen to have some differences on specifics, but, on the whole, point in the same direction. The details vary, but the impression that Japan has an opening is widely conveyed. Few writers delve deeply into the overall geopolitical and geo-economic foundations of this bilateral relationship or into the various dimensions of national identity therein. 

In contrast, there are articles that doubt Japan’s prospects, emphasizing the strength of Russia’s ties to China and focusing on Putin’s reliance on China in foreign policy.Commentators have seen a Sino-Russian honeymoon taking shape, e.g., Kimura Hiroshi, Nagoshi Kenro, who discusses the two slipping into this in 2007, Koizumi Yu, and others. They generally share a much more negative view of how Putin has conducted foreign policy. Some are influenced by inflexibility concerning how many islands Japan must demand from Russia, knowing that Putin has no inclination to make a deal for more than two islands, if even that. Others are attentive to Russia’s military assertiveness, including its growing challenges to Japan and willingness to sell advanced arms to China. Views of these authors are aired in Sankei Shimbun on the right and also in some of the progressive newspapers. Yet, when Abe’s optimism spills over into the media, a wide range of publications are willing to entertain some possibility of Russia distancing itself from China, even if there are authors prepared to disagree, backed by concrete evidence from recent Russian official statements.

Japanese Views Regarding the Most Recent Developments

Changes in international society are proceeding at a dizzying pace. Naturally Sino-Russian relations in this context are changing markedly as well, and Japanese views of them have come to change too. The Ukraine crisis, which became acute from the end of 2013, is a big reason for the rapid shift in Sino-Russian relations. It went through three stages—the Maidan crisis, the Crimean annexation by Russia, and the military conflict in East Ukraine—, deepening as economic sanctions were applied on Russia by European states and the United States, and Russia became internationally isolated. The tendency of “leaving Europe, entering Asia” that Russia deepened from about 2011, when Putin proclaimed his conception of the Eurasian Union, became clearer and unavoidable for Russia. It is said that although Russian consciousness of China is complicated—especially strong alarm about China in regard to security—, in the new international circumstances brought about with the Ukraine crisis, Russia had no choice but to accept the risk from its relationship with China. For Japan, the tightening of Sino-Russian relations had a negative influence on its relations with Russia, just when Abe had prioritized relations with Russia, appealing for resolution of the Northern Territories question. Japan looked with increasing alarm at the deepening Sino-Russian relationship, e.g., examining watchfully both their growing military cooperation and the impact of their ties on the Korean Peninsula problem.

In Sino-Russian relations, military cooperation has played a leading role, now even more of a reality.7 After the end of the Cold War Russia hesitated to provide defense technology to China due to fear that China would increase its power and illegally copy the production and then secretly sell it cheaply to third countries. Globally, it is common in arms exports to not provide the newest varieties and in an agreement with the purchasing country to downgrade what is offered in a way that does not threaten one’s own country, and this is especially apparent between China and Russia. Fearing China’s expansion, Russia was said to follow up with development of military cooperation with China’s neighbors, which, specifically, can lie behind the reality of its cooperative military relations with India, Vietnam, and others. With India there was joint production and other special arrangements; as opposed to supplying China with a downgraded version of the Sukhoi fighter, Russia supplied an upgraded version to India. From this fact, one can deduce Russia’s alarm toward China, as opposed to its military cooperation with India based on relations of trust. This image of Russian restraint in arms sales raised hope for Japan’s appeal to Russia, but awareness of decreasing restraint has finally been spreading in Japan.

Russia publishes its “military doctrine” approximately every ten years, explaining the reasons for maintaining its armed forces, plans for how they may be deployed, etc. NATO, after all, is depicted at the center of this, which makes clear that Russia takes the states of Europe and the United States as its greatest threat. As of 2010, China was already recording military expenses almost twice those of Russia, and its military strength was growing. Despite a history of past clashes due to their border dispute and the fact that it would be natural to feel alarm about China’s military strength, in the 2010 edition of the military doctrine and also in the revised version issued on December 25, 2014, there was no mention of China. There is a section reporting on a threat to national security and national interests that Russia faces from neighboring countries—economic, demographic, cultural, and religious expansion—, which clearly has China in mind. Only this was noted, and there was no reference at all to concrete countermeasures in case of a contingency. Yet, this does not mean that Russia has no consciousness of a threat from China. If there had been a reference to a China threat in the military doctrine, from that day the border extending thousands of kilometers between China and Russia would have grown tense, and massive troop deployments would have occurred on both sides of the border; so, in the opinion of Dmitri Trenin, a specialist on military and security questions, it was better not to write about this.

Writing about NATO did not mean that criticism and tensions would arise, but the honne is that referring to China in the same manner would lead to that.8 In other words, the military doctrine is written basically as tatemae, and it would be a mistake to read it mainly as honne. China obtained from Ukraine the same Soviet-made defense technology that Russia would not supply it, and it copied Russia’s military technology and continued to strive to catch up to Russia. This impression of tension over arms sells has helped to shape Japanese expectations for Russian ties.

However, finally from the end of 2015 the Putin administration decided to supply China its advanced technology against the background not only of the Ukraine crisis and the worsening economy due to a drop in oil prices and the fall in the value of the ruble as well as growing international isolation, but also as, on the one hand, Russia’s military technology was crumbling, on the other, China was producing its own Soviet military technology after obtaining it from Ukraine and boosting its arms development capacity. The most glaring example was the agreement on a supply contract for the S-400 missile. On November 26, 2014 Vedemost’, citing a report from Russia’s defense ministry, said that in a deal between Rusoboroneksport and the Chinese defense ministry at least six S-400 batteries (valued at more than USD 3 billion) would be supplied, but, according to the report, the Russian supplier refused to comment. Ivan Konovalov, director of the Russian Strategic Center, predicted that the S-400 would be deployed in South China for air control over Taiwan and nearby disputed islands. It was said that China wanted to buy the S-400 as a response to the heightened urgency in its Taiwan policy, in accord with this prediction. Moreover, according to the Russian defense ministry information in 2014 the Russian army was supplied 19 S-400s (among which three were deployed in late 2014). One can see that in comparison to this total, the fact that six were supplied to China was quite striking behavior. In reality, if China can obtain the S-400 from Russia, it would have quite high-level technology in comparison to foreign defense systems, which would be expected to raise China’s presence as an air power. Also, year-by-year, China’s dependence on Russian weapons has kept growing. On November 25, 2016, the Spanish EFE agency reported that in the past year China and Russia had increased their spending on military technology agreements to about USD 3 billion, and when Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu had visited China on the 23th, he had promised close cooperation ahead in the military area. Even so, not much was heard in Japan about the discussion of a threat from military cooperation related to the Sino-Russian arms trade. While the Ministry of Defense was aware of the inner workings of this activity, and there were some voices of alarm heard in general reports and discussions among researchers pointing to the tightening of Sino-Russian relations, almost no tendency was visible of grasping the direct threat to Japan. In the absence of such awareness, people could be more hopeful that Russian wariness of China opened the way for Japan. Despite big changes since 2014, Japanese remain hopeful.

In contrast, considerable alarm was shown in Japan toward the joint military exercises of China and Russia. Feared, more than anything else is bilateral military cooperation that unfolds in disputed areas, which could be taken as a sign of joint coordination on the Northern Territories and Senkaku issues. It was because of none other than the Japan-US Security Treaty that Japan could be comparatively easy-going regarding Sino-Russian military cooperation. However, Japan feared such Sino-Russian cooperation in disputed territories because, although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had declared that Article 5 of the treaty applied to the Senkaku Islands, where Japan had effective control, the US intent was clear that it did not apply to the Northern Territories, and there was no written statement that indicated it applied to the Senkakus. In this situation, Abe when visiting the United States in February 2017, highly appreciated President Donald Trump’s words that the Senkaku Islands are covered by the Japan-US Security Treaty.

What especially alarmed Japan in the case of Sino-Russian joint military exercises were the joint drills from late May to early June 2014 to the northwest of the Senkaku Islands, the exercises that occurred from August 20 to 28, 2015 near the borders of China and North Korea, and the first exercises in the South China Sea for eight days in mid-September. Sino-Russian joint exercises occurred five times from 2012, but because the maritime 2016 ones were on a very large scale and simulated war conditions, both countries had evaluated them as highly successful. Although China and Russia both stressed that these exercises were not intended against any third country when they occurred, they were interpreted in Japan and the United States as a very big threat to Japanese security, and that China and Russia were engaging in concrete behavior containing Japan. Through these actions Japanese saw Russia increasingly strengthening its effective control over the Northern Territories and was even growing alarmed that China would seize the Senkaku Islands. Even so, the impact was not great in reducing expectations that Japan could play on wariness about China in Russia, even if talk of splitting the two powers was no longer aired.

Another concern in Japan was a Sino-Russian linkage involving North Korea. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia-North Korea relations were quite weak. Compared to China, Russia did not consider disorder in North Korea a security threat to itself; so, it persisted in limiting its political involvement. However, Russia saw its economic relations with North Korea as serving the goal of containing China, many in Japan had decided. They held this view, when in 2008 Russia obtained the right to develop the Rajin port’s 3rd wharf in North Korea and to use the port for 49 years, and it proceeded to repair the 54-kilometer railroad linking Khasan and Rajin, crossing the Russo-North Korean border. The September 2013 official ceremonies to open this line were followed by talk that Russia was aiming to export its coal to Southeast Asia, while bypassing China, which also obtained usage rights for part of the Rajin port. In 2013 an agreement was even reached for the involvement of South Korean firms in operations related to this port and railway.9 In this way, even in its foreign policy with North Korea Japanese saw Russia as trying to distance itself from China, e.g., in participating in the Six-Party Talks, Russia considered, at the unilateral level, continuing to maintain relations with North Korea a natural way to guarantee its presence in Asia. Japanese sources have given less weight to Sino-Russian joint approaches to North Korea and overlapping interests than have many in the West. If at the UN and elsewhere, China and Russia both had exerted a negative influence on efforts to impose strong sanctions, it seemed in 2016 that they had changed course. Given eagerness to resolve the abductions issue as well as the nuclear and missile threats, Japanese are inclined to accept continued Chinese and Russian ties to North Korea as a means to keep some hopes alive. In particular, commentaries suggest that Tokyo and Moscow have much in common in their stances on North Korea without detailed coverage of what Russians have been saying and doing on this matter.

The November 2016 election of Trump was recognized in Japan as possibly having a big impact on Sino-Russian relations. Preparing for the December visit of Putin well aware that Obama was opposed, Abe suddenly found a new, uncertain atmosphere for great power relations. Japanese were then inclined to attribute Putin’s hardening position toward Japan on the eve of the summit to this factor. Instead of striving to resolve the territorial dispute, Putin was deploying anti-ship missiles on the islands. I do not think that Trump was the reason. Rather, the new deployment had been announced in March, and in order to heighten patriotism and maintain domestic stability following the Crimean annexation, Putin would not consider the return of two islands. Moreover, no matter how positive Trump’s comments on Russia, Russia could not easily envision how this shift could be realized. Indeed, Trump’s Russia policy is one of his greatest weaknesses now. Japanese are reluctant to assume any major change in Russo-US relations, as they look ahead to their talks with Putin.

The 2+2 talks with Russia in November 2013 and again in March 2017 are treated in Japan as useful for sending a message to China on possible Russo-Japan military ties—originally for emergencies and against piracy, but with more options ahead. Yet, the Ukraine crisis stopped any momentum from the 2013 talks. The promise in December 2016 to resume the talks again was seen as something China would not welcome, even if the Japan-US alliance and G7 complicated defense cooperation.10

Quite a few Japanese researchers have come to think that the reason for Russian inflexibility in maintaining the Northern Territories is not just for the sake of the islands or versus the Japan-US security treaty, but because this issue has big salience for Russia’s China policy. In this context, it is possible that how Trump proceeds in his foreign policy will have great consequences for the fragile quadrangle of Japan-US-China-Russia relations. Thus, the perspective keeps broadening from Japanese hopes to proceed in a narrow bilateral way to a Japan-Russia deal, to awareness that Russia will be influenced by its relations with the United States and China, to abrupt awakening to potential for wide-ranging US policy changes affecting the quadrangle.


Japanese are inclined to see an opening for their country in the hesitation of Putin to ally with China, but the mood has shifted to greater wariness about this prospect. Assumptions about Sino-Russian relations have loomed in the background as Abe woos Putin and Japanese envision a breakthrough in Japan-Russia relations. Four alternatives may be at work: 1) sober calculations that Russia is wary of China and that the Sino-Russian relationship is fragile enough that Japan can seize an opening to roll it back; 2) optimism that Japan’s position in Asia can be raised by capitalizing on Russia’s natural desire to avoid becoming China’s “junior partner”; 3) alarm that Russia is on the verge of forging an alliance with China and that, in desperation, Japan must appeal to Russia to limit this outcome; and 4) ignorance of the real nature of Sino-Russian relations, leading to behavior not based on careful assessment of its impact. Is Japan sober, confident, alarmed, or uninformed in discussing how to proceed with diplomacy with Russia? The answer, based on reviewing media and academic sources, is a mixture of all four.

Sober analysis is made difficult by the infrequency of in-depth scholarship. The specialists on China rarely write on Sino-Russian relations. Some are prone to assumptions while showing little interest in probing this relationship closely. Over the past four years of Abe pursuing Putin for a breakthrough, Sino-Russian ties have shifted significantly, but they go little noticed in discussions of changing prospects for Japan-Russia relations. For those eager for a diplomatic agreement, inconvenient facts are rarely cited as reasons for lesser optimism. Coverage of Sino-Russian ties too often occurs as illustrations of predetermined arguments rather than analysis of the multiple dimensions of the relationship. Western scholarship is rarely cited. Few are following either Chinese or Russian sources on the relationship, as it evolves. In these circumstances, informed judgment of the prospects of Japan-Russian relations and how Japan should best calibrate its policies toward Russia is often lacking.

As for confidence, the bulk of Japanese publications take for granted that Russia is intent on balancing China’s superior and rapidly growing clout in Asia, looking to Japan for a better balance of power. This presumption increases the possibility of a breakthrough, suggests that Japan has more leverage than some have calculated, and conveys a more positive image of a realist Putin who looks at Asia separately from other regions for a multipolar power distribution. It is the mainstream in the Japanese media, reflected in the views of generalists and Russian specialists. One example is Sato Masaru, who now sees Trump as a new factor, increasing the realist case for Japan and Russia to cooperate.11 Hyodo Shinji, Shimotomai Nobuo, and Yomiuri Shimbun are major proponents of Russia’s need for Japan, not only for economic reasons, but also for security considerations due to China’s rapid rise. If Yomiuri was most positive about the results of the December summit, however, it also has hedged its bets by often acknowledging today’s Sino-Russian honeymoon.

The alarmist school is much more doubtful of Japan’s potential to reshape Russia’s foreign policy and assumes stronger Sino-Russian relations. The political right, as represented by Sankei Shimbun, is inclined in this direction. For example, Sankei Shimbun explains the reason for Russia’s tough stance on the Northern Territories as due to the China factor.12 However, Russia casts doubt on this interpretation. In fact, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an official document, which said, “The Sankei Shimbun occupies a special position based on the direction of nationalism among major Japanese print media. Many articles about Russia are critical, sometimes aggressive, facts are often distorted and conveyed in a negative light…I think that we should not respond to the interview by the newspaper.” Ironically, this document was sent to the Russian office of Sankei Shimbun at the wrong address, and Sankei Shimbun only could give a delayed response, making fun of it.13 Russian specialists such as Hakamada Shigeki and Kimura Hiroshi voice strong doubts about Abe’s overtures to Putin, not only because of their insistence on the national identity theme of “four islands in a batch,” but also because they do not seen how Japan can shake Russia loose from China. Some on the political left are skeptical as well: Mainichi Shimbun and Tokyo Shimbun have been largely skeptical of what Abe can accomplish and of the results of the December 15-16 Abe-Putin summit. The obvious conclusion is to tighten the US alliance while maintaining G7 solidarity with no illusions about Russia.

The temptation has been to brush aside the shadow of the Sino-Russian relationship in favor of a narrow approach to resolving the impasse in Japan-Russian relations. Yet, Russia’s refusal to go along compels Japanese observers to take a broader view. This was the inescapable lesson from the December 2016 summit, and in 2017 there is every reason to anticipate that the range of considerations is widening, adding to the urgency for Japanese to examine the state of Sino-Russian relations intensely.

1. Hyodo Shinji, “Roshia kara mita Churo senryakuteki partnership—Ukraine kikigo no taichu approach,” in The Japan Institute of International Affairs, ed., Juyokoku no taichu ninshiki: seiji no bunseki (Tokyo: The Japan Institute of International Affairs, 2015); Hyodo Shinji, “Nichiro shuno kaidan tainichi kankei o kyokashitai Putin: Churo migetsu wa misekake,” Wedge Infinity, 2013,

2. Hirose Yoko, “Churo mitsugetsu o apirusuru miekakuresuru ondosa,” Toa, August 2016; “Silk Road keizai koso to Churo no rigai tairitsu,” in Yugawa Kazuo, et. Al., ed., Churo to no kyori ni nayamu no shuroku (Ajia daigaku Ajia kenkyujo, 2016).

3. Shimotomai Nobuo, Putin wa Asia o mezasu gekihensuru kokusai seiji (Tokyo: NHK shuppan shincho, 2014).

4. Ishigooka Ken, Vladimir Putin—genjitsushugisha no taichu, tainichi senryaku (Tokyo: Toyo shoten, 2013).

5. Many commentators fit here, such as Ohtsu Sadayoshi, Matsuno Shuji, and Horie Norio, eds. Churo keizairon: kokkyo chiiki kara miru Hokutoajia no shin tenbo (Tokyo: Minerva shobo, 2010).

6. The main writings of note are Iwashita Akihiro, Churo kokkyo 4000 kiro (Tokyo: Kadogawa sensho 2003) and Iwashita Akihiro, Hoppo ryodo mondai—4 demo 0 demo, 2 demo naku (Tokyo: Chuko shinsho, 2003).

7. On Sino-Russian military relations, the research of Koizumi Yu serves as reference, e.g., “Chugoku to Roshia no fushidarana gunji kankei,” Gunji kenkyu, no. 4, 2013; and “Chugoku no kakudai to mukiau Roshia: Roshia kara mita Chugoku no senryakuteki ichitsuke,” Toa, No. 594, 2016.

8. Ishigooka Ken, Vladimir Putin, 160-162.

9. Hyodo Shinji, “Ukraine kikigo no Roshia no tai Kitachosen seisaku—Rocho kankei wa senryakuteki ni shinkasuruka?” Kitachosen no scenario planning (Tokyo: Nihon kokusai mondai kenkyujo, 2015).

10. Hirose Yoko, “Nichiro shuno kaidan o Chugoku wa do ukitometaka,” Toa, February 2017.

11. Sato Masaru, “Beirochu ‘daikoku no okite’ o mikiwameyo,” Bungei shunju, no. 1, 2017, 318-326.

12. Sankei Shimbun, December 14, 2015.

13. Sankei Shimbun, June 2, 2016.