In the midst of a deepening argument about World War II between Russia and Eastern Europe, the situation in Asia looks more favorable for Moscow. To most of Russia’s neighbors in East Asia–China, Mongolia, both Koreas–the perception of WWII is well disposed to Moscow. But the situation in relations with its former opponent–Japan–is still quite sensitive. Although nowadays they are not entangled with harsh ‘memory wars’, the gap in both countries’ perception of WWII is still quite significant. What did the Soviet-Japanese war of August 1945 mean for Russia and Japan? How is it considered in both countries nowadays and what place does the collective memory of WWII occupy in mutual perception? This article examines these issues in a broad historical context, including the geopolitical rivalry in the first half of the 20th century, the Cold War and its end, evaluating in conclusion the political dialogue between Moscow and Tokyo in recent years.
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