Hokkaido–Russia Economic Exchange: Take Japan’s Shinkansen to Moscow

|Russia

“Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, came to Japan in mid September to investigate the introduction of the shinkansen to the United States. Afterwards he visited South Korea which operates a similar high-speed rail service, and returned to the United States.” I think that this report is still fresh in everyone’s memory.

While taking in this report I recalled clearly something that happened last year.

That is, on the occasion of visiting Russia and the Russian Far East in October last year as a member of the secretariat for economic missions organized within Hokkaido, I recalled making the suggestion of “Take Japan’s shinkansen to Moscow” when I had a talk with Anatoly Bury-san in Khabarovsk (the current Deputy General Manager of the Interregional Association of Economic Interaction “Far East and Transbaikalia” who is an old acquaintance of the past dozen years from the time when I worked at the Hokkaido Government, and I call him “san” because I met him in a private capacity). I gave a message of similar content to Aleksandr Levental-san, Deputy Plenipotentiary Presidential Representative for the Far Eastern Federal District.

I am not an expert in this field, and it is only a mere concept, but as it’s content: “How does this sound?: extend further the Japanese shinkansen line running from Aomori to Hakodate, go from Sapporo via Wakkanai, put a bridge across the La Perouse (Soya) Strait, head north across Sakhalin Island, go through a tunnel under the Tartar (Mamiya) Strait to the continent, and, taking Khabarovsk as the bifurcation point, construct the Grand Siberian Shinkansen alongside the Trans-Siberian Railway as far as Moscow, and an international train route branching at Vladivostok through to Beijing via the three provinces of China’s Northeast.

“The goal is a shinkansen as a means of transportation for commodities and not only people which has been the case to date, with efficient high-speed transportation of commodities over a vast land area, and a distribution trunk line to transport Russia’s abundant resources to Japan, and manufactured goods, consumer goods and processed foods from Japan to Russia. The conveying (exporting) outside of the region via Russia of the agricultural production of the three provinces of China’s Northeast will also become easy. Going between Tokyo and Moscow, running at 300 km per hour, trains will arrive after a day and a half. If they put together rapid customs clearance systems by reciprocal means, it will be possible to deliver fresh Japanese foods to the tables of Russians in three days.

“The construction of a Russian shinkansen, greatly transforming the distribution systems that have been envisaged to date, will enable a marked expansion of possibilities. The advantage for the Russian side is the promotion of distribution accompanying the trade with Japan and the region reached via Japan, but above all else a huge contribution is to be expected toward the development and the stability of the regional economies of Siberia and the Russian Far East, which lie to the east of the Urals.”

Well, that was a run-through of the proposal and its content.

Whether investigative consultations relating to various cooperative relationships at the governmental and business-world levels between Japan and Russia are being done and implemented, or implementation is being attempted, is something I honestly just can’t tell only from looking at the reports by media organizations of late. It’s just that I too have also been involved for a long time in work related to Russia, and while I know that it is a matter for subsequent discussion, I think that if the speed of a shinkansen is put in place between Japan and Russia, particularly regarding economic exchange, then the knowledge of the peoples of both countries will become something new.

The inspection of the shinkansen by the Governor of California, which I learnt of by chance, made me recall my proposal to Bury-san, and I think that the course of this proposal is something that will be the subsequent basis of Hokkaido’s exchange with Russia, or of its economic exchange at the least.

Almost certainly talk of a shinkansen will be offensive to the ear for the people in the Japan Sea coast regions who are working actively on trade with Russia, and next I would like to try and put down in writing my thoughts on the exchange with Russia which Hokkaido has been following, and its direction in particular.

[Translated by ERINA]