Nr 41 • Jaanuar 2007

The South Kurils – Highlights of the Past

In 1990, my friends and I went camping on the islands of Kunashir, Shikotan and Iturup. Deep inside I knew that some day I would reclassify this trip as my first visit to Japan. Rich in mineral resources, but completely laid to waste, this Russian version of Japan looked in its shabbiness like any other remote area in Russia. When the tanked-up pilot of an old cargo plane had twice missed the landing strip, he decided that we would be flying back to Sakhalin if he did not manage the trick on our third run. The truck driver, who was a military man, just fell out of the cabin when he made a short stop on our way to a local settlement. As it turned out, the only thing that had kept this drunk steady was the truck’s seat. To be able to ever get back from these islands of amazing natural beauty – i.e. to buy a ferry ticket – I had to shamefully push a bottle of Vana Tallinn liqueur through the ticket window.

Read more

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia focuses on Japan. Rein Raud, the Rector of Tallinn University, analyses the factors that have helped Japan to become the first country that does not speak an Indo-European language or use the Latin script to modernise: “Japan’s success is made more remarkable by the fact that according to Max Weber’s criticism of a Confucian society, many factors of Japan’s culture and society – such as the domination of the group over the individual and the strict hierarchies and ritualism in decision making processes – should not be compatible with the principles of a modernised society. Nevertheless, in the Japanese context, these have paradoxically turned out to support rather than obstruct its development.”

Read more