June 1, 2004｜Russia
Professor, Niigata University of International and Information Studies
The annual party to celebrate Russia’s national day, which is organized by the Consulate-General of Russia in Niigata, took place in a hotel in Niigata City on June 11th. “Russia Day” commemorates the day when what was then known as the Russian Republic declared its sovereignty on June 12th, 1990. Since then, Russia has designated it as a national day. In the former Soviet Union, November 7th, which commemorated the Russian revolution, was the national day.
Consul-General Boris Krasulin mentioned in his speech that a decade has passed since the consulate-general was established in Niigata. Although it only had jurisdiction over Niigata Prefecture when it opened, this has been extended to encompass other prefectures, including Toyama, Akita, Yamagata, Ishikawa and Fukui.
It was a sociable evening attended by a lot of people, including the Governor of Niigata Prefecture and the Mayor of Niigata City. I also saw the Consul-General of the ROK in Niigata there.
There are two foreign consulates in Niigata, both of which were established in 1978: the consulates-general of the ROK and Russia.
A total of 168 countries (including the EU) have consular facilities – defined as embassies, consulates and consulates-general – in Japan; there are 20 from the Asian region, 2 from North America, 30 from central and south America, 11 from the Pacific region, 14 from the Middle East, 47 from Africa, and 44 from Europe. This means that almost 90% of the countries affiliated to the United Nations have consular facilities in Japan.
In this, it is understandable that embassies are located in the capital, but if we look at the cities where consulates or consulates-general are located, we can see that the Japan Sea (East Sea) side of the country is home to only the aforementioned two consulates-general in Niigata. The role of the consulate or consulate-general could be described in a single sentence as being gto promote its countryfs trade and to support and protect its own citizensh. More specifically, it plays an important role in terms of the issuing of visas. The importance of the role that these two particular consulates-general have played in promoting exchange between Niigata and the ROK and Russia is immeasurable.
In this sense, the longstanding efforts to entice China to establish a consulate or consulate-general here in Niigata, which has an airport with international routes to both Harbin and Shanghai/Xi’an, as well as a port visited by ships sailing between China and Japan, are right on the mark.
Besides its embassy, China has consulates-general in Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagasaki. In comparison, in addition to its embassy, Japan has consulates-general in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Hong Kong, as well as officials stationed in Chongqing and Dalian. If the prospects for the future suggest that economic relations between Japan and China will expand further in provincial areas as well and that flows of people and goods will flourish, it would make sense to increase the number of consulates-general. It is hoped that this will take place at an early date.
In addition to its embassy, Mongolia has honorary consulates in Osaka and Sapporo.
In anticipation of the realization of normalized diplomatic relations between Japan and the DPRK, the establishment of a DPRK consulate or consulate-general should now begin to be considered.
In order for Niigata to enhance its status as a hub within the Northeast Asia subregion, I believe that we should induce the relevant countries to establish consulates or consulates-general. It goes without saying that a dramatic expansion of commercial and trade relationships and human exchange focused on Niigata is essential in order for the establishment of these consulates in Niigata to be thought rational.
[Translated by ERINA]