Oct 15, 2021
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The Japanese prime minister has stated a claim for the Kuril Islands. Why doesn’t it work?

A Russian scientist stands on the shore of Cape Vasin of Urup Island in the southern group of the Great Ridge of the Kuril Islands.

There is a tradition in Japan – every new prime minister of the country, taking office, wants the Kuril Islands. He announces his desire publicly, from the high rostrum of parliament, promising that during his leadership the issue will be resolved positively.

Iturup places a high value on their landscapes - in every sense.

“Conclude a peace treaty with Russia, solving the problem”

54 years old Fumio Kishida, who took office as head of the Japanese government on October 4, was no exception. During a parliamentary debate on October 12, Kishida announced: “Our country’s sovereignty extends to the northern territories. We must resolve this issue without leaving it to future generations. The government is determined to conclude a peace treaty with Russia, resolving the problem of ownership of these islands. “

At the same time, the Prime Minister said that he plans to develop cooperation with the Russian Federation in the economic, political, cultural and other spheres.

Activist of the youth movement with a poster

Previous Japanese Premier Yoshihide Suga, who has been in office since September 2020, also spoke more than once about the so-called problem of the “northern territories”. After taking office, in his first speech, he said: “As for the issue of the Northern Territories, I intend to continue the dialogue in order to clarify the issue of the ownership of the four islands”.

In November 2020, during a meeting with the Governor of Hokkaido Prefecture Naomichi Suzuki Suga said: “Already 75 years after the end of the war between Japan and Russia, the problem of the northern territories has not been resolved, and a peace treaty has not been signed. The problem of the northern territories is the problem of the entire people. It is extremely important for the government and citizens of the country to work together. I will make every effort to solve this problem and sign a peace treaty. “

However, during the year that he was at the head of the government, Suga has not made any progress on this issue by a centimeter. And there is every reason to believe that Fumio Kishida will suffer the same fate.

The signing of the peace treaty with Japan, San Francisco, September 8, 1951.

Hereditary politician from Hiroshima

Kishida comes from a family of hereditary politicians. His grandfather and father were members of parliament, his cousin was the governor of Hiroshima prefecture, and the prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who headed the government in 1991-1993, is a distant relative of him.

It was during the reign of Miyazawa that Fumio Kishida was first elected to the Japanese parliament. Subsequently, he held various posts, including the minister of affairs for Okinawa and the “Northern Territories”, so he is familiar with the problem of the South Kuril Islands. Which, however, does not make the solution of the problem easier.

Another interesting point: the politician’s family comes from Hiroshima, and many of his relatives died in August 1945 as a result of the American atomic bombing. But this in no way prevents Fumio Kishida from preaching a course towards close allied relations with the United States in his political career. Which, in turn, is one of the stumbling blocks in Russian-Japanese affairs.

The village of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on the Kunashir island.

Japan was offered a compromise, but Tokyo was unable to give up American tutelage

In 1956, the Soviet-Japanese declaration was signed to end the state of war, which was to become the prologue to the conclusion of a peace treaty. A compromise solution was announced – the islands of Habomai and Shikotan will be returned to Japan in exchange for the unconditional recognition of the USSR’s sovereignty over all other disputed territories. But this could happen only after the conclusion of a peace treaty, which presupposed Japan’s non-participation in any blocs and agreements hostile to the Soviet Union. The United States was not at all happy about the prospect of improving relations between the USSR and Japan. The territorial problem was an excellent wedge driven between Moscow and Tokyo, and Washington considered its resolution to be extremely undesirable.

Writer Mikhail Zhvanetsky.

It was announced to the Japanese authorities that if a compromise was reached with the USSR on the “Kuril problem” on the terms of dividing the islands, the United States would leave Okinawa and the entire Ryukyu archipelago under its sovereignty.

Such an ultimatum led to the disruption of the planned agreements. On January 19, 1960, Japan signed the Agreement on Interaction and Security between the United States and Japan, to which Moscow responded by completely rejecting its previous proposals, noting that the territories transferred to the Japanese would be used for military purposes against the USSR.

Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Alexei Kosygin and Japanese Foreign Minister Kakuei Tanaka exchange folders after the signing of the Soviet-Japanese documents in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses.  1973 year.

Times have changed

Subsequently, first Soviet and then Russian diplomacy tied all possible concessions on the issue of the South Kuriles to the obligation of non-aggression on the part of Japan, as well as the refusal to deploy on its territory the armed forces of another state capable of committing aggression against our country.

But official Tokyo was never ready to give such obligations.

In the 1990s, the team Boris Yeltsin in exchange for the conclusion of a peace treaty, she was ready to cede Hibomai and Shikotan to Japan, and make the topic of Kunashir and Iturup the topic of further negotiations. But in Japan they decided that they could get everything from Moscow. With the departure of Yeltsin and the change in foreign policy, Russia began to tighten its line.

In 2009, the Japanese authorities passed a law extending the country’s sovereignty to all of the Southern Kuriles. After the introduction of amendments to the Constitution of Russia, the alienation of the territories of the Russian Federation is not possible. Nevertheless, Tokyo believes that Moscow may make concessions.

Shpanberg lighthouse in the Malye Kuriles reserve on Shikotan island.

Speak, speak …

At the same time, Japan does not offer anything that could really interest Russia. First of all, we are not even talking about economic cooperation, but about security issues. The United States continues to increase military activity in the Asia-Pacific region, and in Japan itself, voices are being heard about the need to lift the previously imposed restrictions on the development of the military sphere.

Of course, in such conditions, the transfer of any territories to Japan would be a step tantamount to suicide. And not a single Russian politician will do that.

Mayor of the Kuril region (Iturup) Vadim Rokotov In an interview with RIA Novosti, he commented on the words of the new Japanese prime minister: “Statements of this kind are heard all the time. We are already used to them. With the arrival of each new leader of Japan, a call is made to resolve the territorial issue. I would like to remind you of the recently adopted amendments to our Constitution, which speaks of preventing the alienation of territories. Residents of the Kuriles unanimously voted for these amendments … We are for the development of friendship and good-neighborly relations between our countries. We are preparing two luxurious schools for delivery, opening swimming pools, cinemas, asphalting roads. In my opinion, all this makes it clear that these are our territories. ”

In general, we can say with confidence that Fumio Kishida will talk about the return of the islands throughout his tenure, and then pass this baton to the next. And nothing will change with the Kuriles.

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