politics

'Northern Territories Day' ad accused of promoting excessive nationalism

49 Comments
By RocketNews24

Since 1981, Japan has observed February 7 as “Northern Territories Day,” which commemorates the signing of an 1855 treaty granting the nation possession of a chain of islands off the coast of Hokkaido.

In a recent commercial titled “Drawing the Northern Territories,” a male voice begins: “Even though it’s Japanese territory, Japanese people can’t live here.” Pastel drawings of picturesque mountains and fishermen at work segue into a shot of a woman looking out across a stretch of sea to a rocky outcrop. “Look, it’s so close,” continues the narrator, as “16 km” appears across the bottom of the shot. The ad ends with the message: “The Northern Territories: inherently Japanese.”

Harmless patriotism, or government propaganda? Public reactions seem to be leaning toward the latter.

The term “Northern Territories” refers to Kunashiri, Iturup, Shikotan, and the Habomai islets, which extend from the northwestern tip of Hokkaido to the southern end of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Though these four are currently under Russian control, with some 30,000 residents present on the islands, the dispute concerning their ownership goes back over a century to the signing of the Treaty of Shimoda in 1855.

This treaty granted Japan possession of the four islands and Russia all territory to the north, which is why they are known in Russia as the Southern Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories.

Though Japanese settlers from the mainland eventually took up residence on the islands, adding their numbers to those of the Ainu peoples who migrated there earlier in the 18th and 19th centuries, both groups were deported following Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Japan claims that these deportations constituted an illegal act, and that Japan never truly relinquished the Northern Territories (though Japan renounced “all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands” as part of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Russia was not a signatory). Meanwhile, Russia points to this treaty and a number of other international agreements as proof of its rightful ownership.

Which brings us to this commercial message. With its pastel drawings and uplifting music, it might seem no more than an innocuous celebration of the Northern Territories in keeping with the spirit of the holiday.

But not everyone in Japan is convinced. Considering that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released a statement on February 7 declaring his intention to resolve the issue in favor of Japan, this coming on the heels of the government’s decision to place sanctions on Russia for its maneuvers in Ukraine, some think the televised message is part of a campaign to rally the nation around Abe’s foreign policy.

Weighing in on the debate, one Twitter user said: “I can’t help but think this is meant to stir up nationalism… sounds like saber-rattling to me.”

Others seemed to share this individual’s sentiments.

“This is my first time seeing an ad about how the Northern Territories are Japanese. Shiver. I get the feeling something has just begun.”

“I recently saw this commercial: “Even though it’s Japanese territory, Japanese people can’t live here.” Was I the only one whose first thought was, “Fukushima?” This government propaganda about the Northern Territories is too much. There are people saying they want to live in the Northern Territories? First let’s see about allowing people [in the mainland] to live where they want.”

The timing of the media campaign certainly seems telling given Abe’s recent comments. However, whether a favorable resolution will indeed come to pass remains to be seen.

Sources: Nikkan Spa, Channel NewsAsia, BBC News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The Bubble Princess: Japan can’t help staring at this revealing character -- “I think I love you…”: Romantic confessions from around the world -- 65-year-old arrested for theft: “I never worked”

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49 Comments
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Shouldn't the ads be targeted at Russians?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

""Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." - Albert Einstein

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Just keep on going, again, and again, and again.

This will definitely help to improve relations with your neighbors!

I mean, Germany lost World War II and quite some territory to Russia, Poland and so on.

"We" don't and we have never complained that much (if at all).

How was that song: "The winner takes it all"?

So, stop bitching, complaining and issuing propaganda material .... get over with it!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Can't wait for the right wing defenders to jump on here to justify this bleating...yeah, the same ones who keep telling Japan,s neighbors to " get over it" WW2 was 70 years ago.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Who paid for it? Geesh. Investigate much?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I have a friend who was at the Foreign Ministry for a few years who secretly told me over drinks that--being an environmentalist--he hoped Japan did not get the islands back. He was justifiably worried that Japan would trash the fairly pristine islands were they ever to get control over them again.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

If Japan got the islands they would become US military bases.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Surprise the ruskie's and pull a Crimea! Stop whining and take them in the night.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

If the people here can see it for what it is then it's not even a subtle attempt to pull the wool over people's eyes. Once again, the government in pushing its own nationalist agendas, is causing a backlash and drawing more attention to their intentions. Keep it up, please!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Nationalism is a way of mind control. Maj. General Smedley D Butler talked about it in his speech "war is a racket".

4 ( +5 / -1 )

this coming on the heels of the government’s decision to place sanctions on Russia for its maneuvers in Ukraine

Oh dear, hasn't a ceasefire been agreed upon?

Was I the only one whose first thought was, “Fukushima?”

Certainly not.

12thman:

Surprise the ruskie's and pull a Crimea! Stop whining and take them in the night.

Do you honestly think the islands are populated by only 80 year old farmers? Will you volunteer to go first?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They are inherently Japanese. I think as long as China relives WW2, Japan should remember this act of theivery.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

They are inherently Japanese. I think as long as China relives WW2, Japan should remember this act of theivery.

Meanwhile South (and North) Korea have pushed propaganda for years regarding some rocks, that nobody ever lived on (as opposed to the above islands that were definitely were populated by Japanese, and legally), and on a much larger scale. Some would say on a level that approaches bizarre, and frankly, I'd have to question group sanity in more than a few cases.

But Japan does the same thing, with one commercial, with regards to territory that should be returned, and our regular 5th columnists get all excited.

All of the Kuriles should be returned. Russia is a bully and a thief.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Good point Joeintokyo. Also the point about Fukushima is very well taken.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Still have earache from the trucks at the Northern Territories noisefest.

though Japan renounced “all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands” as part of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Russia was not a signatory

and the Japanese signers had their fingers crossed behind their backs?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's quite clear: the Japanese signed away the islands in 1951. Whether Russia signed that treaty or not is beside the point, Japan did, and in doing so relinquished the islands.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It's quite clear: the Japanese signed away the islands in 1951. Whether Russia signed that treaty or not is beside the point, Japan did, and in doing so relinquished the islands.

No. It's quite clear that the 1855 agreement specified the boundaries and what is defined as "Kuriles". This is supplemented by the subsequent 1875 St. Petersburg agreement which is aka exchange of Sahkahlin and Kuriles.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

nigelboy take a boat and go to the islands, let me know how ti turn out by the time you get 10 Km from the islands, that is one country that the Japanese nut jobs wont play with.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

nigelboy take a boat and go to the islands, let me know how ti turn out by the time you get 10 Km from the islands, that is one country that the Japanese nut jobs wont play with.

When one cannot come up with a counter argument, respond with a threat of violence. Very mature.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

"The winner takes it all"? yes and in some ways Japan should thank America that Russia decided to stop at those islands, its going to take a lot more than national pride and a few advertisements to reclaim those islands from Russia

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@nigelboy

When one cannot come up with a counter argument, respond with a threat of violence. Very mature.

You expected better here? I admire your optimism.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The winner takes it all"? yes and in some ways Japan should thank America that Russia decided to stop at those islands, its going to take a lot more than national pride and a few advertisements to reclaim those islands from Russia

Not really. When history followed immediately with what eventually resulted in the Cold War, it was a mistake by the U.S.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

If 'inherently Japanese' means covering a wilderness in concrete, with a vending machine on every corner and cheap and nasty souvenir shops and soba stands to shake down the oba-san daytrippers then let's hope the status quo remains.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I wonder if Japan would offer an olive branch by suggesting joint sovereignty or guaranteeing rights of residency and language for the Russian community on the islands. Otherwise this is on a hiding to nothing.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wonder if Japan would offer an olive branch by suggesting joint sovereignty or guaranteeing rights of residency and language for the Russian community on the islands. Otherwise this is on a hiding to nothing.

"Japan's position is that if the attribution of the Northern Territories to Japan is confirmed, Japan is prepared to respond flexibly to the timing and manner of their actual return. In addition, since Japanese citizens who once lived in the Northern Territories were forcibly displaced by Joseph Stalin, Japan is ready to forge a settlement with the Russian government so that the Russian citizens living there will not experience the same tragedy. In other words, after the return of the islands to Japan, Japan intends to respect the rights, interests and wishes of the Russian current residents on the islands. "

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

'Northern Territories Day' ad accused of promoting excessive nationalism

Japan is never going to get all 4 islands back. It just won't happen. All this continuing pining and flag waving is doing nothing but gratify the far-right. The only solution here is to accept Russia's 1956 offer (and one which they would agree to extend again) for the return of 2 of the islands to Japan. Moreover it makes Japan look somewhat hypocritical in its other territorial disputes with China and South Korea

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Moreover it makes Japan look somewhat hypocritical in its other territorial disputes with China and South Korea

How so?

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

@joeintokyo:I have a friend who was at the Foreign Ministry for a few years who secretly told me over drinks that--being an environmentalist--he hoped Japan did not get the islands back. He was justifiably worried that Japan would trash the fairly pristine islands were they ever to get control over them again.

Just as they have trashed Hokkaido? Or Ogasawara?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

klausdorthFeb. 13, 2015 - 07:56AM JST

I mean, Germany lost World War II and quite some territory to Russia, Poland and so on.

"We" don't and we have never complained that much (if at all).

When Germany lost the war and Berlin was divided, there were quite a lot of complains against Soviet Union.

Never complained? Learn history.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan treated the Ainu worst than we in north America treated our Natives. There was a very few Japanese living on this islands, there is a lots more Russian there now. Ainu were not killed or deprived of their identity bu Russians that was achieved earlier by Japanese. Russia may agree on sharing but they can't agree on complete transfer because that would put the USA bases right at their door. If Japan became free and independent of USA and NATO than they would have a chance.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Zvonko Cowardly Russians that scared huh?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

How so?

For the simple matter that a dispute over the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands doesn't exist because Japan says it doesn't Now if we follow that reasoning, South Korea could give Japan the same answer over Dokdo, and Russia the same over the Northern Territories. You can't make one standard for yourself, and another for everyone else

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Japan's position is that if the attribution of the Northern Territories to Japan is confirmed, Japan is prepared to respond flexibly to the timing and manner of their actual return. In addition, since Japanese citizens who once lived in the Northern Territories were forcibly displaced by Joseph Stalin, Japan is ready to forge a settlement with the Russian government so that the Russian citizens living there will not experience the same tragedy."

How generous. One wonders why Russia hadn't taken up such an offer yet. Japan has no trump cards in this game, simple.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Russia needs the islands to control sea access to the Sea of Okhotsk.

For strategic naval reasons, Russia will never relinquish the two farther (and larger islands).

Videos won't change a thing.

0 ( +1 / -2 )

No. It's quite clear that the 1855 agreement specified the boundaries and what is defined as "Kuriles". This is supplemented by the subsequent 1875 St. Petersburg agreement which is aka exchange of Sahkahlin and Kuriles.

The Japanese Wiki actually has nice explanations showing how Japan twisted things while translating, and really, even the tweaked version cannot really categorically deny the possibility that Kurils does include those four islands.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All Stale bread.

Rightfully or Wrongfully the N.T will never be "given" back by Russia. No amount of costumery and kabuki will change Russia's stance.

Fact - Russia occupies the isalnds with 10,000s living there - and increasing I once read.

Fact - they have way too much to lose - strategic zones, resources and of course "face". Could you even begin to imagine the domestic hell a return would create for any Russian president. Who would do that?

Fact - Japan has little to bargain with (that we know of).

Sabre rattling days are as the title indicates - a play for the natives, a nationalistic charade.

Being humble and accepting a smaller piece of the pie is probably the only realistic chance Japan has to secure any title. And I'm not suggesting Russia is right, just saying how it is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"For the simple matter that a dispute over the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands doesn't exist because Japan says it doesn't Now if we follow that reasoning, South Korea could give Japan the same answer over Dokdo, and Russia the same over the Northern Territories. You can't make one standard for yourself, and another for everyone else"

Actually, the Russians does consider it as a dispute.

South Korea does not consider the Japanese claim as a dispute despite Japan's request to take this matter to ICJ on three occasions.

As to Senkaku, Japan does not consider them as dispute for China has yet to make a request to settle this via ICJ.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Winners take all if they can. Whiners are given what the takers want to give them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Christopher Glen: Japan is never going to get all 4 islands back. It just won't happen. All this continuing pining and flag waving is doing nothing but gratify the far-right. The only solution here is to accept Russia's 1956 offer (and one which they would agree to extend again) for the return of 2 of the islands to Japan. Moreover it makes Japan look somewhat hypocritical in its other territorial disputes with China and South Korea

You do talk a load of unmitigated rubbish. Russia did say that the '56 deal was still valid but then putin said they would now offer Japan no territory back. So next time, get your facts right. That balding dictator in the kremlin will never return any of the islands back to Japan

2 ( +2 / -0 )

nigelboyFeb. 13, 2015 - 11:04PM JST

Actually, the Russians does consider it as a dispute.

Noooo, Russia doesn't even acknowledge that there is anything such as 'The Northern Territories.

Maybe your lack of Russian leaves a lot lacking,

Russia says that Shikotan and the Habomais are outlets of both the Island of Hokkaido and the Kurile islands and are in dispute. The dispute being which landmass do they belong to? The Russians will discuss their status and, in a quest for a future treaty to put an end to past friction, is prepared to give Japan the benefit of the doubt.

Kunashiri and Etorofu, according to the Russians, most US geographers and the Japanese until bullied by Dulles in 1956, are part of the Kurile Island and Japan, according to the terms of San Francisco 1952, renounced all rights to the Kurile Islands.

Even though your Russian maybe limited, it isn't hard to understand, is it?

Kunashiri and Eturofu are quite

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Gary Raynor: Noooo, Russia doesn't even acknowledge that there is anything such as 'The Northern Territories. Maybe your lack of Russian leaves a lot lacking, Russia says that Shikotan and the Habomais are outlets of both the Island of Hokkaido and the Kurile islands and are in dispute. The dispute being which landmass do they belong to? The Russians will discuss their status and, in a quest for a future treaty to put an end to past friction, is prepared to give Japan the benefit of the doubt. Kunashiri and Etorofu, according to the Russians, most US geographers and the Japanese until bullied by Dulles in 1956, are part of the Kurile Island and Japan, according to the terms of San Francisco 1952, renounced all rights to the Kurile Islands. Even though your Russian maybe limited, it isn't hard to understand, is it. Kunashiri and Eturofu are quite

If your budy in the Kremlin knows Shikotan and Habomai are part oof Hookkaido, then why not GIVE THEM BACK TO JAPAN?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Noooo, Russia doesn't even acknowledge that there is anything such as 'The Northern Territories.

That's because the Soviets took them by force and subsequently incorporated them under Sahkalin. And lets's be clear. Even if the four islands are part of the Kuriles as they claim, the Treaty of Peace in no way shape or form gave the territories to Russia.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

nigelboyFeb. 16, 2015 - 06:28AM JST

Even if the four islands are part of the Kuriles as they claim, the Treaty of Peace in no way shape or form gave the territories to Russia.

First, Britain and the US, at Yalta, gave the Kuriles to the old USSR 'The leaders of the three great powers – the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain – have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that: [....] 2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz.: (a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union; [....] 3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.

Second, Japan, under the terms of the San Francisco treaty, Article (2c), gave up all rights to all of the Kurile islands "Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands.'

Third in October 1951 the Japanese Foreign Ministry even took the present Russian stance and admitted in response to parliamentary questioning that Etorofu and Kunashiri were included in the Kuril Islands.

Fourth, the term Hoppō Ryōdo 北方領土問題 (The Northern Territories) didn't even exist until 1960. The Japanese used the term Minami-chishima / 南千島 (The Southern Kuriles).

The Japanese may think that rabbits walk on 2 feet - rabbits are counted in ichiwa, rather than ippiki - but the rest of all the world doesn't have to conform to the Japanese narrative of facts. What I mean is that Japan has the cultural tendency to change the facts to suit the situation - rabbits are counted as two footed animals because the Japanese used to eat rabbits and Buddhism forbade the eating of animals who carried themselves on 4 feet. The Japanese resolved this problem by stating rabbits walked on 2 feet and carried on being good Buddhists who ate rabbits - and the Northern Territory dispute is another, more modern Japanese, exercise in trying to change the facts to suit their own self serving interests.

Sadly it isn't serving their national interests, but only serving the interests of the right wing of the LDP.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The 1855 agreement in which this anniversary established set the borders. The 1875 agreement did not include the four islands as part of the exchange. How the Allieds, especially the U.S., who were clueless of the boundaries is why the dispute exists.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Most of the people who were alive when Russian annexed the islands are dead. What point in keeping the issue alive?

Let Japan pony up some cash if they want 'em. If they offer enough they could probably get Sakhalin, too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sadly it isn't serving their national interests, but only serving the interests of the right wing of the LDP.

Precisely. When will they learn?

"The document officially renounces Japan's treaty rights derived from the Boxer Protocol of 1901 and its rights to Korea, Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores, Hong Kong (then a British colony), the Kuril Islands, the Spratly Islands, Antarctica and Sakhalin Island." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_San_Francisco Thus Japan is in no position to demand a return of all four of the islands. The Soviet Union/Russia however has at times generously displayed a willingness to return two of them however

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Christopher GlenFeb. 16, 2015 - 03:38PM JST

The United States has different opinion from yours.

US Department of State

Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson

Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, August 13, 2014

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/08/230586.htm

QUESTION: And just in the region, also on Russia, do you have any comment on the Russian exercises in what they call the Southern Kirul Islands? The Japanese were upset.

MS. HARF: Yes. Let me see what I have on that. I have something brief.

The United States recognizes Japanese sovereignty over these islands. And don't have -- I said it was brief. Don't have anything more for you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Northern territories are like salamander dropped tail..... reattaching is not easy when someone else is holding onto it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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