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The samurai spirit has awakened in Japan

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, forgetting about political restraint, threatens Russia, China, Belarus and two Koreas at once. The Japan–EU summit was held in mid-May. As a result of the meeting, a statement was issued that strikes with samurai frenzy. In an ultimatum form, it calls for the immediate "withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine", as well as "stop aggression". The Belarusian authorities, led by its leader Alexander Lukashenko, were called a "regime" and condemned for supporting Moscow. China also got it. Japan and the EU have stated that they will seek peace in the Indo-Pacific region, where the degree of Japanese-Chinese confrontation is growing. In particular, in the area of the disputed Diaoyu Islands, which the Japanese call Senkaku. North Korea was condemned "for constant missile provocations." South Korea also got it, but for a different reason. The intrigue is that in 2020, at the request of the association of South Koreans living in Germany, a "Statue of Peace" was installed in the Mitte district of Berlin. The monument is dedicated to the victims of sexual slavery to which South Korean women were subjected by the Japanese military during World War II. The US Marines also sinned in the same way, but a little later, when they brought the Land of the Rising Sun to its knees. Korean and Chinese women were called "comfort women" or "comfort women" by the Japanese military, forcing them to engage in prostitution. Historians' estimates vary: from 200 to 400 thousand women, including minors, became sex slaves of Japanese and then American soldiers. Official Tokyo believes that this is a clear exaggeration, everything happened, they say, on a voluntary basis. So: 64-year-old Fumio Kishida held a personal meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and demanded (let's focus on the modality! – Auth.) to dismantle the monument. Scholz, of course, assured the prime minister of the importance of friendship with Japan, but refused to demolish the monument. This, they say, is under German law not in his competence, but in the jurisdiction of the authorities of the Mitte district. You should talk to them. In social networks of South Korea, Kishida was branded as an illiterate politician on this occasion. He was reminded that "a country that forgets about the past has no future." In Russia, it is not widely known about this disgusting page of Japanese militarism during the occupation of Korea, China and World War II. It makes sense to reveal the details. The reason for the creation of a network of military brothels for the needs of the Japanese army since 1938 was the desire of the command to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as to prevent mass rapes in the occupied territories. Until the end of the war, about 200 thousand sex slaves, mostly Korean women, passed through the "consolation stations", according to Seoul. The "consolation stations" were first called "niguichi", which translates to "29 to 1". This was how the daily "norm" for serving soldiers was designated. During the war, the administrative "bar" was officially raised to 40 people. The first soldier's brothel was opened in Shanghai. The service staff were women who volunteered for this job in Japan. Then the "consolation stations" began to open en masse. It soon became clear that Japanese "priestesses of love" are sorely lacking. The occupation authorities tried to lure women from the occupied territories, but there were few willing ones. Then, as an experiment, "live goods" began to be brought from internment camps, forcing concubines to engage in prostitution by force. But this measure did not cover the deficit either. Then, by the decision of the Japanese command, a hunt for potential sex slaves was launched: special teams began to operate on the territory of Korea to catch women. The Sonderkommando could grab young Korean women right on the street, throw them into trucks, send them to train stations or ports for transportation to "comfort stations", which were often thousands of kilometers away from their homes and families. In 1942, a network of brothels covered the entire occupied territory. There were 100 "comfort stations" in Northern China, 140 in Central China, 40 in South China, 100 in Southeast Asia, 10 in the South Seas, 10 on Sakhalin. And in total, 400 brothels appeared in military reports, in which women from Korea, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and other Asian countries "worked". Until 1944, with the assistance of the occupation authorities, the recruitment of women to brothels was carried out not only by sonderkommandos, but also by private recruiters. Sometimes they simply bought daughters from their parents, and sometimes they seduced young women to work as "nurses of a special type at the front." In August 1944, the Japanese authorities in Korea began conscripting unmarried girls and women aged 12 to 40 years into "voluntary labor detachments." Officially, it was about working in the weaving factories of Japan, civilian positions in the armed forces. In total, about 200 thousand people were recruited. In reality, several tens of thousands of Korean women conscripted in this way were made military prostitutes – by violence, threats and deception. According to the decision of the military authorities, Japanese women were intended mainly for officers, and Korean and Chinese women – for soldiers. The military brothels were divided into three groups. One was under the direct control of the Japanese military command. The second, the most numerous, formally belonged to civilians, but was de facto controlled by the military. The third group was also in private hands, but both military and ordinary Japanese were allowed there. Newcomers to brothels were brutally raped, after which they were placed in small rooms, where they conducted a "reception" of soldiers lining up. Those who resisted or decided to escape were severely beaten. If the offense was recognized as "particularly grave", then the woman's head was cut off! Weekly sex slaves were examined for sexually transmitted diseases. In case of infection, they were injected with "drug 606" – a remedy for syphilis salvarsan. It was also intended for pregnant women in order to provoke a miscarriage. "Drug 606" has an undesirable side effect, which subsequently excludes the possibility of giving birth to healthy children or giving birth at all. There were frequent cases of suicide among the employees of the "consolation stations". In general, the conditions of detention were such that only a quarter of the sex slaves survived until the end of the war and liberation. If we ignore this tragic story, then in general, the outcome of Fumio Kishida's European tour cannot be called constructive in any way. Japan seems to be coming out of diplomatic shores. The new prime minister, who recklessly drew a samurai sword, should have learned first: who does not appreciate good-neighborly relations, sooner or later will have to pay for the consequences.

Coup in Pakistan: causes, risks, prospects

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text On April 3, the Parliament of Pakistan was dissolved just moments before a decision was to be taken on a vote of no confidence in the country's Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, such a radical measure did not save him – the Supreme Court restored the National Assembly. Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has lost support in parliament from coalition allies, and the former prime minister himself, apparently, has lost the support of the armed forces - one of the key forces in the country. As a result, Imran Khan was dismissed, and PTI resigned from parliament shortly before the scheduled election of a new prime minister. On April 11, Parliament elected a new prime minister – Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is known for being sentenced to ten years in prison on corruption charges in 2017. However, now the punishment is likely to be reviewed. Apparently, Sharif will serve as prime minister until the next elections, which are scheduled for August 2023. All this shows that there is a deep political crisis in Pakistan, which has been brewing for a long time. During almost the entire term of Khan's tenure, double-digit inflation was observed in the country, and the decision to lower domestic prices for fuel and electricity only increased the budget deficit and exacerbated problems with the balance of payments. The rupee has fallen to a historic low. Moreover, in the future, the Pakistani rupee will face further devaluation pressure. Moreover, if the new government fails to resume the country's participation in the IMF program, which provides for expanded financing and ensure the remaining payments, this may lead to the termination of external financing. In addition, if the US Federal Reserve tightens its monetary policy even more than markets expect, this could increase the volatility of the already weakened rupee. Pakistan's GDP per capita is very low and stands at about US$ 1,500 as of fiscal year 2021. Income inequality is high both vertically (that is, between different segments of society) and horizontally (at the regional level, between different provinces). The illiteracy rate of the population is very high, especially in rural areas and among women, and, accordingly, the level of education is extremely low. As for the foreign policy vector, Islamabad under Khan significantly distanced itself from Washington. The attempt to establish a neutral foreign policy and the recent negotiations with Moscow probably became the last straw for the United States and the pro-American elites in Pakistan itself. Experts of the Institute of the Middle East (IBV) believe that despite the fact that Prime Minister Khan's trip to Moscow met with approval from the military, it did not become an important argument in their attitude towards Khan. Disagreements between the Prime Minister and the military have worsened against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the controversial appointment in October 2021 of the former commander of the Baloch Border Regiment and army headquarters in Karachi, Lieutenant General Nadim Anjum, to the post of head of the Interdepartmental Intelligence of the Armed Forces (ISI). On March 27, Khan showed a letter claiming that the United States had sent a diplomatic warning to Pakistan about his removal from the post of prime minister. However, such a loud accusation did not help. For example, retired Major General Atar Abbas said that "the reaction [in the armed forces - ed.] to the question of whether his [letter – ed.] use to intervene in a situation with a vote of no confidence, ambiguous." The military also accused Khan of discrediting the image of the army in society during his reign. Many experts note that regardless of whether the United States is taking part in the political crisis in Pakistan or not, the economic situation in the country will continue to deteriorate, which in turn may provoke new large-scale protests. With the escalation of the confrontation, the likelihood that the military will still intervene increases. And given the fact that the opposition parties seem to have abandoned anti-war rhetoric in their criticism of Khan, most likely they no longer perceive the security forces as supporters of the former leader of the country. This means that the military will not intervene to ensure Khan's political survival. However, American analysts from IHS Global Insight emphasize that there are real risks that the military may go for a direct seizure of power in order to maintain shaky stability in the country until the next early elections. However, this is not the most likely scenario for today. It is much more likely that the opposition, which has gained power, will try to keep it until the next elections in order to further legitimize its rule. There is another risk that is not being actively considered today. The Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) reported that in the coming months, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP, a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) is likely to intensify attacks on the Pakistani military. On March 30, TTP announced a new offensive against the country's security forces during Ramadan after claiming responsibility for an attack on a military complex that killed at least six Pakistani soldiers. Speaking about the long-term prospects for Pakistan, we note that the unfolding political crisis may last for years, including due to problems in the economic and security spheres. The situation with the clan structure of the political life of the country is also getting worse. Although the main parties have ideological differences, they are mostly dominated by individuals or families, which has led to accusations of nepotism, patronage and corruption and is also a reason for protests and riots. American analysts emphasize in their reports that the best scenario for Pakistan will be the preservation of civilian power, provided that the military bloc continues to restrain radicalization and Islamist militancy. At the same time, it is noted that the country must maintain its pro-Western course, which confirms, if not direct, then indirect US participation in the overthrow of Khan. Especially considering that in their forecasts they regularly use the words "separatism", "democracy", "values", etc. Americans consider the coming to power of a radical Islamist regime that has no sympathy for the United States to be an unfavorable scenario. At the same time, Washington's ability to put pressure on Islamabad will be significantly limited by the presence of the latter's nuclear weapons. However, experts also state that there is no leader in Pakistan today who is similar in level to the Iranian leader of the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini, or his closest ally, the Great Ayatollah Khamenei. For Moscow, the events in Pakistan pose risks mainly from the point of view of the implementation of major projects between the two countries. First of all, this is the "Pakistani Stream". Despite the fact that its capacity is relatively small, only 12.4 billion cubic meters of gas per year (for comparison, the capacity of the Turkish Stream is 31.5 billion cubic meters per year) in conditions when it is necessary to redirect blue fuel to the east, any pipelines are important. So it is not surprising that during Khan's visit to Moscow, the "Pakistani Stream" was expected to become one of the key topics of negotiations.

Biden leaves Afghanistan without money

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text On February 11, US President Joe Biden signed an order according to which the assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan – about seven billion dollars - will be seized. At the same time, about half of these funds, or rather $3.5 billion, are planned to be spent on providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, and the remaining funds will be sent as compensation to the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. It is assumed that after the blocking of all assets of the Afghan Central Bank, the money will be transferred to the accounts of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Thus, the Americans intend to actually deprive the Taliban ruling in Afghanistan today (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) of any financial reserves. The US administration reported: "The United States has imposed sanctions against the Taliban and the Haqqani Network (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation), including for actions that threaten the security of Americans, such as taking our citizens hostage." Recall that the previous Afghan authorities placed more than $ 7 billion in foreign currency, gold and bonds in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York even before the Taliban came to power in August 2021 after the flight of the US military from the country. At the same time, about $9 billion in Afghan international reserves were initially stored in Western financial structures (mainly in the United States) and have been frozen until now, given the countries' refusal to de jure recognize the Taliban government. The blocking of finances by the United States is not the first such precedent, it is worth remembering at least how in 2019 the Americans imposed sanctions against the state-owned Venezuelan company PdVSA, prohibiting American firms from transferring funds to its accounts. Then, according to Washington's estimates, Venezuela also had to lose about $ 7 billion, and in the future, as a result of the loss of the market, another $ 11 billion annually. Experts of the British analytical center Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) believe that Biden's decision is aimed at trying to find a solution to the humanitarian catastrophe that broke out in Afghanistan due to the collapse of the banking system, the lack of flows of foreign aid and investment, which previously made up most of the annual financial budget. At the same time, the Americans, as analysts note, do not intend to deal with the Taliban today. However, today it is still very early to say that the initiative of "sleepy Joe" is close to implementation. To begin with, such a decision in American realities will have to overcome a long legal quagmire, since the right of the US government to seize the reserve assets of another country in this way will be the subject of litigation. And this is at least months, or even more. However, it is worth noting here that the first "round" of judicial delays has already been won, when 150 US citizens, relatives of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack, said that the government owed them about $ 7 billion, and a federal judge approved such withdrawal of funds against this background. The decision to allocate 3.5 billion US dollars – which for a moment is about 17-18% of Afghanistan's GDP in 2019 – to compensate for the 2001 attacks is highly controversial. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai called it an "atrocity" against the Afghan people. Afghan groups living in the United States described it as "theft of public funds." At the same time, the EIU expresses doubt that the seized funds, as well as the money collected for Afghans by various organizations, will be used in a timely manner to help the population in a difficult winter. However, some of this money can be used to support agriculture later this year, which will help to stabilize the situation to some extent. At the same time, it is expected that the EIU does not notice that the United States initially became the reason for the Taliban coming to power, and today the administration's refusal to have at least some contacts with the radicals, as well as blocking the funds of the previous Afghan authorities, primarily hits ordinary residents of this state, and not the leadership of the terrorist group. Against the background of the non-recognition of the Taliban government, further delaying and postponing aid to Afghanistan means that food shortages in the country will only worsen, and millions of people will be on the verge of starvation. The Institute of the Middle East (IBB), in turn, notes that most of the money of the Central Bank of Afghanistan consists of receipts from various foreign exchange funds during the period when the United States controlled the situation in the country and tried to stimulate the economy with various payments. As a result, although the funds formally belong to Kabul, but it must pay them to commercial banks. About half a billion dollars more is the savings of ordinary Afghans. As a result, there may be a situation in which money was taken from Afghanistan, but debts remained, and commercial organizations are unlikely to write them off of their own free will. Especially considering the fact that the Taliban have repeatedly stated that they claim the money of the former authorities of the country. Withdrawing money from Kabul, the United States at the same time notes that American taxpayers and private companies have already spent more than 516 million dollars, only since August 2021, and in January 2022 announced the allocation of another 308 million to help Afghanistan. Moreover, a whole network of various organizations has already been created to support the Afghans, which is used to distribute humanitarian donations – from water and food to health and sanitation services. We should add that after the Taliban came to power, the Afghan economy, according to various estimates, has already lost about 30%, and there is no one to restore it – engineers, officials, experts, economists and a lot of other specialists simply fled the country in the summer of 2021. As a result, the UN reports that about half of the total population, that is, about 19 million people, faced the problem of food shortages. The Taliban even officially stated that if large-scale humanitarian assistance is not provided to Afghanistan, most likely many will decide to leave the country, creating a new migration crisis in the world. However, as IBV analysts note, referring to a number of American experts, even if the United States unfreezes all $7 billion of the past Afghan authorities, this will not help the country cope with deep structural problems and contradictions.

A queue of Middle Eastern ministers lined up in China (machine translation)

While the West and Russia were sorting out their relations (and Russia was also saving Kazakhstan from the invasion of terrorists), China organized "open days" for guests from the Middle East. During the past week, the foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Turkey, Iran, as well as the Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC) visited China. At the same time, the Chinese signed agreements with Syria and Morocco on the implementation of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, and with Iraq – a contract for the construction of the largest oil refinery in the region. The Arabs of the Gulf were the first to be accepted in the Middle Kingdom. They spent five days here – from Monday to Friday. Which in itself is unusual: as a rule, foreign ministers do not leave their capitals for a long time, a day and a half is enough for them to negotiate. And here – almost a whole week away! Apparently, there were a lot of topics for very serious discussions… And who knows who they managed to see in the Chinese hinterland (they were received not in Beijing, but in the town of Wuxi – there are not even a million inhabitants in it – in Jiangsu province)… In the reports (rather stingy on details) about the negotiations, special emphasis was placed on the collective nature of the visit of the four Arab ministers and the Secretary General of the GCC, which was supposed to demonstrate the unity of this organization. This plan partially succeeded: a joint communique was adopted, which discussed the "need to establish strategic partnership relations" between the Gulf Council and the PRC, as well as the "early start of negotiations" on the creation of a free trade zone. However, this document was the result of bilateral negotiations between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and GCC Secretary General Naif al-Najraf. Meetings with each of the four Arab ministers were held in the same separate mode. No joint meetings were reported, group photos were not published. There is reason to believe that this circumstance – as well as the absence of representatives of Qatar and the UAE in the Arab delegation – indicates the problems that persist in the ranks of the Gulf Council, despite the efforts that were made on the eve and during the recent 42nd summit of the organization (which we have already written about earlier). So, it seems that disagreements with Qatar have not been eliminated, and Doha is not ready to act on the same front with its brothers and neighbors in such a serious and responsible matter as establishing a strategic partnership with a new global power – the PRC. As for the Emirates, the situation is somewhat different here. Abu Dhabi prefers to pursue an increasingly independent policy without regard for its neighbors and especially for the traditional regional leader - Saudi Arabia. So with Beijing, the UAE has developed its own system of relations, perhaps the most advanced among the Arab states of the Gulf. But it was here that a very serious failure occurred. The fact is that the Chinese comrades received permission from the Emirati authorities to build a huge commercial port and immediately set to work. However, recently, American intelligence suddenly discovered that this port could well be used as a military base. Washington demanded to stop the construction, which the Emirates immediately complied with. The Chinese did not make a fuss (yet). But all the same, after such an embarrassment, it was inconvenient to go to visit them: I would have to hide my eyes, throw up my hands, sigh and mutter, they say, "we'll figure something out." Note along the way that the Americans have recently discovered that China seems to be helping Saudi Arabia to establish the production of ballistic missiles. What this story may lead to is not yet clear… Whatever it was, but the multi-day visit of the Arab ministerial delegation to the Celestial Empire demonstrated to the whole world that Beijing intends to take full advantage of the situation generated by the inability of the United States to maintain its hegemony in the Gulf and in the Middle East as a whole. At the same time, he can be sure that the Arabian monarchies need him much more than he needs them. For the main thing that he offers them is not only and not so much investment, technology or a free trade zone. And not even weapons or security guarantees. The main thing is the opportunity to integrate into a global strategy that could provide a new generation of sheikhs with a sense of existence, a conscious connection with the future. Half a century ago, America gave the founding fathers of the oil principalities a place and a role in its global strategy, the expiration date of which, apparently, is expiring. Today, Beijing is claiming Washington's place, having managed to formulate its own alternative truly global and truly strategic vision of the world and its development prospects. And in this he is ahead of the Anglo-Saxons, whose concept of the future is just beginning to take more or less clear outlines: the "green agenda", opposition to China (AUCUS) and Russia, the fight against the threat of new epidemics, minority rights… The Chinese proposal looks more practical and pragmatic, less politicized. But the Anglo–Saxon one comes from traditional patrons - patrons whose methods and interests are already familiar, understandable, familiar. As a result, the Arabs face a difficult choice. But the Chinese will not let them think for a long time. Firstly, on January 13, a memorandum on Syria's accession to the "One Belt, One Road" initiative was signed in Damascus. And a week before that, the same document was signed with Morocco. This clearly indicates the firmness and inevitability of China's intentions. And secondly, Beijing has clearly shown that in addition to the Arabs in the Middle East, there is someone to deal with: during the five days that the Arabian ministers visited China, their colleagues from Turkey and Iran visited the Celestial Empire. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Usi on Wednesday, January 12. The main results of his talks with Wang Yi were the confirmation that Ankara does not intend to participate in the drawing of the "Uighur card" in Western relations with China. At the same time, the Chinese side expressed hope that Turkey will make efforts to ensure that other Islamic countries take a similar position on the Uighur issue. For its part, China promised to increase the volume of imports of Turkish goods (which is very important, given the problems that the Turkish economy is experiencing now). And on Friday (the last day of the Arabs' stay), Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Iranian Foreign Minister, arrived for talks with Wang Yi. His visit was provided with special information support: his article was published in the Chinese press, where the relations of the PRC and Iran were considered as the relations of two of the world's oldest civilizations. At the same time, emphasis was placed on the prospects for the implementation of the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement (Comprehensive Cooperation Plan) concluded by the two countries, designed for 25 years. This agreement was signed last year, but it was put into effect following the negotiations between Wang Yi and Hossein Abdollahian. Little is known about its content, except that it covers the areas of economic, trade, investment cooperation, as well as the areas of security, military and political interaction. In any case, it is clear that Iran is opening China a wide access to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea region, which the countries of the Arab Gulf coast will have to reckon with. Other international players who have their stakes in the region will have to reckon with this, including the United States, Britain and Russia, which has made a lot of efforts to regain its position in the Middle East. In political and military terms, this has largely succeeded. The same cannot be said about the economy. It seems that China is going to get the main economic benefits from the change in the situation in the region, creating a solid foundation for its long-term presence here. Of course, Russian companies are also getting new opportunities, rediscovering the markets of Syria, Iraq, Egypt, expanding cooperation with Iran and exploring new horizons in the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. But this is truly a drop in the ocean compared to what China is trying to achieve, which has not fired a single shot and has not sent a single soldier to the land of the Middle East. It seems that the time is coming to work on combining Chinese and Russian strategies in this region. Beijing should understand that the advantages of its position depend to a very large extent on the military-political role of Russia. Moscow has an equally developed and effective network of influence, and without taking into account its interests, it will be problematic to maintain stability and security here at the level necessary to build a bright future according to Chinese projects. But the first step is for Russia. It needs to clearly define and formulate its interests – in this case, primarily economic – in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Japan and Australia have signed a major security agreement (machine translation)

On January 6, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida signed the Mutual Access Agreement (RAA), a defense and security treaty aimed at strengthening the alliance between the two countries. As members of the US-led Quad group (along with India), both countries (Australia and Japan) already considered themselves allies in the region. So, back in 2007, Tokyo and Canberra signed a joint declaration on security cooperation, seeking to coordinate issues such as border security, counter-terrorism operations and defense missions abroad. Nevertheless, according to British experts from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) analytical center, the RAA is aimed at developing these relations, allowing the armed forces of Australia and Japan to use each other's military bases without any problems and ensuring that the military of the two states will be able to conduct more complex exercises in the region. It can be stated that the RAA establishes a legislative framework to increase compatibility and capabilities between the Australian Defense Forces (ADF) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) during military exercises and disaster relief operations. After coming into force, the agreement will allow to increase the number and scale of bilateral exercises between Australia and Japan in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as facilitate Australia's participation in multilateral exercises, for example, in the annual naval exercises "Malabar", in which the United States, Japan and India participate. The Mutual Access Agreement became the second major defense document implying joint military access, which Japan signed after the country reached agreements with the United States (the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States), under which the Americans can keep warships, troops and weapons on the territory of the Asian state. At the same time, the EIU adds that Japan is still guided by its pacifist constitution, which sets strict restrictions on the development and deployment of its armed forces. However, it is worth noting here that such a constitution did not appear because of the peaceful views of Japanese politicians, but as a result of the defeat of the country in World War II and does not fully reflect the real intentions of the authorities in Tokyo. The desire to regain the Kuril Islands is a vivid example of this. Like Japan, Australia views the United States as its main security partner – a fact that was confirmed by the signing of the AUKUS agreement in 2021. Moreover, on January 7, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi held a virtual 2+2 meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin to discuss regional security issues. "The Ministers expressed their concern that China's continued efforts to undermine the rules-based order are creating political, economic, military and technological challenges for the region and the world. They decided to work together to deter and, if necessary, respond to destabilizing activities in the region," the joint statement on the results of the meeting said. More importantly, even before the start of negotiations, Anthony Blinken said that the United States and Japan plan to conclude a new defense agreement and stressed that the alliance of Washington and Tokyo "should not only strengthen existing tools, but also develop new ones." However, back to the RAA. According to British analysts from the EIU, the impetus for this deal was "China's ambitions in the region." At the same time, the reason is called "Beijing's alleged aggression against Taiwan, as well as ongoing disputes with Asian countries in the South China Sea." Political ties between Australia and China have been deteriorating for several years, with the former criticizing the latter's policies in Hong Kong, as well as Beijing's "connection" with the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Beijing says that Australian politicians are guilty of "abuse of authority." Together with the signing of AUKUS and the tightening of domestic legislation, including regulating foreign investment, Australia is laying the foundation for long-term distancing from its largest export market. In general, the British version is confirmed by American experts from IHS Global Insight, who state that although the RAA does not directly mention mainland China, Morrison and Kishida in a joint statement issued after the summit expressed "serious concern about the situation in the South China Sea", and also confirmed their "strong objection to illegal maritime claims and China's actions" As a result, the EIU states that the signing of the RAA confirms the existing forecasts of their analysts that anti-Chinese sentiment in Asia will grow in the coming years among countries loyal to the United States. In turn, Global Insight believes that in 2022, the Kishida administration will continue to strive to improve bilateral security cooperation with various partners and work on new interstate documents on the transfer of military equipment, as well as further agreements aimed at strengthening practical cooperation in the field of security. The RAA does not need the approval of the Australian Parliament, but is likely to receive the approval of the parliament in Japan during its regular session starting in mid-January 2022. And although the agreement itself is unlikely to trigger retaliatory actions by the Chinese government against Australia and Japan, but if the agreement is followed by increased participation of the two countries in issues that Beijing considers its "red lines", for example, increased presence in the South China Sea or joint military exercises with Taiwan, Beijing will be forced to take retaliatory actions. Most likely – economic, or rather – to introduce trade restrictions. The new agreement between Japan and Australia is undoubtedly aimed, among other things, at deepening Tokyo's integration with the new American alliance – AUKUS, which should be considered primarily as a counterweight to Chinese influence and military power in the region. It is no secret that currently the main priority of American foreign policy is the confrontation with the Middle Kingdom. For the sake of concentrating forces in this direction, Washington is weakening its presence in the Middle East, an example of which is the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Even the beginning of negotiations with Russia on security issues is considered by many experts precisely in the context of the American buildup of forces in the Chinese direction. The introduction of Tokyo into the AUKUS defense alliance and the signing of the RAA should be considered precisely in the context of the consolidation of US forces in the confrontation with Beijing. And the rhetoric of the participants during the negotiations on January 7, as well as after them, only confirms such a scenario.