Will Siberia ever be densely populated?

: Nippon in Siberia

Not only the Chinese are interested in the Far Eastern regions of the Soviet Union. The Japanese, whose enormously expanding industrial state lies just off the Soviet Pacific coast, have also been very active there. In the big one. Discreetly and indirectly, they play a decisive role in the dispute between Beijing and Moscow.

It started four or five years ago - at a time when the Sino-Soviet conflict was little more than a war on paper. But even then the Russians were concerned that the development of their Far Eastern territories was going very slowly. These areas are rich in natural resources, but so far hardly industrialized and only sparsely populated. The crowds in Chinese Manchuria, on the other side of Amur and Ussuri, must therefore act as a threat.

So the Soviets turned to the Japanese. With the help of Japanese capital and Japanese technology, the Soviet Far East, its industries and its infrastructure are to be developed. If the plan actually works, it will be one of the largest capitalist investments the Soviets have ever allowed on their territory.

In his book China's neighbors the American journalist Harrison Salisbury described the plans of the Japanese. They want an 8,000 kilometer pipeline from Siberia to the; Build pacific coast; for this they should then 10 to. Receive 20 million tons of oil a year. The company will cost around 7 billion marks.

However, the construction of the pipeline is only part of a three-part project. A joint "economic committee" has been set up to include Soviet officials and Japanese businessmen. The last meeting of this body took place in December. The discussions concerned the pipeline project, the establishment of Japanese sawmills and wood processing plants in return for Russian timber exports to Japan, and the construction of new ports. The port construction talks are practically over; the other two projects are still being negotiated.

The Soviet appetite for Japanese capital aid seems insatiable, but Japan, on the other hand, is keen to secure Siberia's low-sulfur oil and timber. The Japanese delegation to the December talks was led by the general manager of Fuji-Steel, Nadano. His company, which after the planned merger with Yawata Steel will belong to the second largest steel group in the world, is to supply the pipes for the oil pipeline. The Soviet East is has now become a popular travel destination for Japanese business people. Hundreds of Japanese ships call at the ports of Naschdoka and Vladivostok every year.

In an effort to develop their Far Eastern regions, the Soviets are not afraid to forge an economic alliance with Japan and incite the island kingdom against the Chinese. However, the Japanese government has carefully stayed out of the negotiations. On the one hand, Japan also trades with China (volume: 1.3 billion marks per year). On the other hand, however, the Japanese are not as clumsy as they wanted to make political capital out of their Russian business: they want to avoid anything that, in Beijing's eyes, might seem like a Moscow-Tokyo axis. N / A.