In this episode of Mission Japan, we are honored to welcome H.E. Mikhail Galuzin, Russian Ambassador to Japan. We explore the origins of Russo-Japanese relations, the Russian community in Japan and the economic components of a thrilling trading relation. The Ambassador also gives us his insights on the possibility of a future peace treaty agreement and the so-called "Kuril islands issue", still unresolved with their Japanese counterparts.
Join us in this episode as we explore the rich relationship between Russia and Japan.
[ENG] [JP] captions available!
Subscribe to the Langley Esquire YouTube channel for more weekly videos!
To learn more about Langley Esquire, visit our website:
Tim : Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Mission Japan. In this series, we talk about various embassies that occupy the diplomatic landscape in Tokyo. Today, I'm honored to welcome the Russian Ambassador, Mikhail Galuzin. Welcome!
Ambassador Galuzin : Thank you. Nice to meet you, pleasure to be here.
Tim : It's really great that you're here, Russia and Japan has such a long history... they are close, they're very close neighbors and the relationship between them is so critical, but the the pace of negotiations that have been going on recently with regard to the Kuril Islands is really a hot topic. But what I'd like to talk about first of all is the relationship between the nation of Japan and the Russian Federation: where it started and how we got to this wonderful piece of land that you have over at Ikura**.
Ambassador Galuzin: Well, if we talk about the origin of the Russian-Japanese relations, I would say that the first information or first knowledge of Japan had arrived to Russia, I think, in the mid of the 17th century or in the second part of the 17th century. This knowledge was say broadcasted to Russia by Russian diplomats who would visit China and who would know some information about Japan. One of these diplomats was Nikolai Spathari, who visited China in the 80s of the 17th century, and he was one of the first Russian nationals who brought some information of Japan to our country.
Tim : And, I'm sorry but at that time Japan was still in the Sakoku period, right? If you came, if you fell off the boat and landed in this country, you were killed immediately. And the other kind of interesting thing about this is that this foret** did not begin from the south, as it did with the Portuguese or the other countries, but actually from the north, isn't it?
Ambassador Galuzin : Well, what you say now happened later, a bit later. But, the Russian diplomats who first learnt about Japan, information about Japan, they didn't visit Japan during that time. As I mentioned above, they visited China and there they obtained first information. I agree, Japan was at that time in a period of Sakoku, which means closed country, and the Russian nationals could not reach Japan at that time. But in the 18th century, some of the Japanese fishermen sailors or traders they happened to arrive to Russia because the storm, or some weather disaster in the high seas, threw them to the Russian shore.
Tim: Okay, that would be up north.
Ambassador Galuzin: Yes. And they were saved by the Russian people there and some of them, let's say, started to live in Russia. Some of them as foreign nationals from a country which Russia didn't know about, they were received even by the Russian Emperors. For instance, a Japanese national whose name according to the archives was Denbei who was received by Peter the Great back in 1703, in Moscow. And after that, this Japanese man, Mr. Dembei, started to run the first-ever Japanese school, Japanese language school, in Russia and that is how the studying of Japanese language had started in Russia, more than three centuries ago. Then, there is a famous story described by Mr. Yasushi Inoue, a famous Japanese author in his renowned book "Dreams of Russia". It is about the 90s of the 18th century, when Daikokuya Kodayu, a Japanese Japanese trader, a Japanese businessman let's say in modern terms, also was forced to arrive to Russia because his ship met a very strong storm in high seas. So, he came to Russia, he lived in Russia for a while, and then Mr. Adam Laxman, a special annoy of Empress Katherina The Great, brought him and one more Japanese national who was with him to the city of Nemuro (Hokkaido) back in 1792 to return them back to their home country and to try to establish relations with Japan. But, that time, though he left Mr. Kodayu and his associate in Japan, he failed to establish relations with Japan because of this policy of the Japanese government.
Full Transcript available here: