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Balancing Between Legality and Illegality: Russian Import of Japanese Used Cars and Unauthorized Export of Russian Marine Bioresources to Japan

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This article focuses on two main issues: the ability of informal cross-border entrepreneurs to avoid restrictions imposed by a government, and governmental capacity to make these restrictions work efficiently in the long term. Two kinds of informal trade activities between Russia and Japan—import of used cars and trafficking of marine bioresources—are taken as case studies. I argue that in both cases informal cross-border traders have tried to exploit cross-border differences to their benefit, balancing between legal, low-punishable, and heavily punishable practices. Both kinds of informal trade proved to be highly resistant to suppressive government policies and highly capable of exploiting legal and law enforcement loopholes. Still, suppressive government policies proved to be at least partially successful in the long term.
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Keywords: Japanese-Russian relations; border studies; informal cross-border trade; legality and illegality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: A lead research fellow in the Peace and Conflict Group of the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow. He is the author of about 190 research works on border-related issues, post-Soviet Eurasia, and Asia-Pacific affairs.

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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