Former Japanese vice foreign minister hits out at former PM Abe over northern territories

Former Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi takes a strong swipe at former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his new book, “Gaiko Shogenroku” (Diplomatic testimony).

The book, subtitled “Diplomacy and security from the period of high growth to the post-Cold War era / The road to leader of the international order,” is published by Iwanami Shoten.

In it, Takeuchi strongly criticizes Abe’s effective decision to pursue the return of just two of four islands of the northern territories from Russia initially, saying this left a “negative legacy” for the Japanese government and people.

As a bureaucrat, Takeuchi served as vice foreign minister for about three years from 2002 under the administration of then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Takeuchi emphasizes that the foundation of the Abe negotiations was the 1993 Tokyo Declaration, which stated that a peace treaty would be concluded after resolving the issue of the four islands’ attribution.

Takeuchi criticizes Abe’s change of policy in 2018, when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Singapore and focused on the return of the two islands, which Takeuchi says could make him “the first prime minister in history to renounce national sovereignty himself.”

Regarding the 2003 war in Iraq, Takeuchi states that Japan proactively considered measures to contribute to the war and that Tokyo’s efforts to encourage Washington prompted a shift in U.S. policy from unilateral action to international cooperation. The view that “the Japanese government followed the U.S. lead” is “incorrect, and should not become entrenched in history,” he writes.