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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


In 1985 trade with the Soviet Union accounted for 1.6 percent of Japanese exports and 1 percent of Japanese imports; Japan was the Soviet Union's fourth most important Western trading partner (see table 49, Appendix A). Japan's principal exports to the Soviet Union included steel (approximately 40 percent of Japan's exports to the Soviet Union), chemicals, and textiles. The Soviet Union exported timber, nonferrous metals, rare-earth metals, and fuel to Japan. In 1986, despite a reduction in trade between the two countries, the Soviet Union had a trade deficit with Japan. In 1987 trade dropped another 20 percent.

Numerous controversies have thwarted Soviet-Japanese trade. The Toshiba affair, in which Japan was accused of shipping equipment to the Soviet Union that was prohibited by CoCom, caused JapaneseSoviet trade to decrease in 1987. In addition, the Japanese constantly prodded the Soviet Union to return the islands off the Japanese island of Hokkaido that had come under Soviet control after World War II (see Soviet-Japanese Relations , ch. 10). For its part, the Soviet Union complained of the trade imbalance and static structure of Japanese-Soviet trade.

In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union tried to increase its exports to Japan and diversify the nature of the countries' relationship. Soviet proposals have included establishing joint enterprises to exploit natural resources in Siberia and the Soviet Far East, specifically, coal in the southern Yakutiya area of Siberia and petroleum on Sakhalin; cooperating in the monetary and credit fields; jointly surveying and studying marine resources and peaceful uses of space; and establishing joint activities in other countries. The Soviet Union also proposed branching out into joint ventures in the chemical and wood chip industries, electronics, machine tools, and fish processing. The first Japanese-Soviet joint enterprise, a wood-processing plant in the Soviet Far East, began operation in March 1988. The Soviet Union provided the raw materials, and Japan supplied the technology, equipment, and managerial expertise.

Data as of May 1989