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Geopolitical factors key to historical ties with Romania

The Japan News

Shigeo Mutsushika, left background, speaks about Romania at a symposium at Josai University in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Saturday.

By Michinobu Yanagisawa / Japan News Staff WriterMutual geopolitical importance has been one of the key foundations that have upheld the close ties between Romania and Japan, experts on the Eastern European nation said at a symposium on Saturday in Tokyo, marking the 100th anniversary of the first Romanian diplomatic envoy’s arrival in Japan.

“Diplomats [of Romania and Japan] had such a foresight that they overcame the vast distance between the two countries,” Prof. Shigeo Mutsushika of the University of Shizuoka said at the symposium, referring to the two countries’ mutual approaches from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, which resulted in the arrival of the first Romanian envoy, Nicolae Xenopol, in Japan in October 1917.

The Romanian Embassy in Japan organized the symposium at Josai University in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. Romanian Ambassador Tatiana Iosiper attended the event.

According to Mutsushika, the Triple Intervention of 1895 — in which Russia, Germany and France forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to China after the first Sino-Japanese War — motivated Japan to seek ties with Romania, especially with a strategic view to gathering intelligence on Russia, a major power close to both countries. Japan sent senior officials including Maresuke Nogi — a hero of the Russo-Japanese War — to Romania during 1906 to 1914.

For its part, Romania moved to establish ties with Japan during World War I after attacks by the Central Power nations of Germany and Bulgaria, in an effort to receive economic and military assistance, Mutsushika said. Japan subsequently accepted Xenopol even before officially establishing diplomatic ties — an exceptional measure in light of international law.

At the end of his lecture, the professor stressed the implication of these historical facts for the current international relations, including the accelerated coordination between Japan and Europe after the inauguration of the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, and Russia and China’s “common approaches over Ukraine, Syria and the South China Sea.”

“The talks between Romania and Japan to establish diplomatic ties one century ago indeed heralded the [current] diplomacy based on the security linkage between Asia and Europe,” Mutsushika concluded.

Natsuo Amemiya, a former ambassador to Romania, agreed that the Balkan nation is a key country. “Romania has been in a friendly relationship [with Japan] throughout the past 100 years,” he said.

The former envoy referred to the “arc of freedom and prosperity” — a diplomatic concept Tokyo once promoted during the first administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The concept’s aim was to strengthen ties with nations of Eastern Europe and Central Asia that are located in an arc that surrounds China and Russia. “Romania could be described as one of the central nations” in the concept, Amemiya noted.Speech

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