politics

Residents of Russian-held isles await diplomatic resolution

52 Comments
By Hyun Oh

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It is impossible to resolve the Northern Territories issue without dialogue between leaders

It would be disgraceful to resolve it without dialogue with the people who live there. Thanks JT for the article. We don't often hear about those who live there.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

It is impossible to resolve the Northern Territories issue without dialogue between leaders,” Abe told reporters.

Then pray tell Mr Abe who is going to start the dialogue and speak for Japan. You did say "leader" right?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Hope Eksneyland create Kuinaland there with plenty local culture, hollywood already intrudyceg a certaatin amount of Okinawa culture with Karate Kid 1,2,3 I think hidden Ainu culture may be dood to Americans,

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

If a country loses in a war, the country loses territories. We are paying the price of the foolish war.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Russkies are born sore losers , I don't know if there is a real prime minister of japan he would have captured all stolen territories within few days

-21 ( +2 / -23 )

A large number of the islands' inhabitants are actually ethically Ukranian rather than Russian. Even the man mentioned in the story has a common Ukranian 'yuk' surname, Berezyuk. I'm not sure how this came to be historically, or if it makes any difference politically, but it's just an interesting little factoid.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Dictator Putin won't return any of the islands back to Japan

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Dictator Putin won't return any of the islands back to Japan

Putin is finished economically , he is a burned card , European likes those Russkies loser without merkel support goodbye

I don't know why he is not in kiev until now

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

"We need to build, if not Disneyland, then something that will make people come.”

How about a baseball field?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Maybe Japan could set an example and return territory it stole or make proper amends to the ancestors of people it stole territory from? Nobody likes a hypocrite. Just a thought.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

If the Senkakus belong to Japan because Japan has been occupying them, the Kuriles belong to Russia because Russia has been occupying them. The same logic should be applied to all islands regardless of whether they are to the North, South or even West of Japan.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

If I were a resident, I would look to China for business ties. Chinese tourists have deeper pockets and are more likely to be equipped with requisite curiosity to visit this off-the-beaten-track destination. Why bother with Japan with which the issue always has to come back to territorial claims?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

If the Senkakus belong to Japan because Japan has been occupying them, the Kuriles belong to Russia because Russia has been occupying them. The same logic should be applied to all islands regardless of whether they are to the North, South or even West of Japan.

Then Takeshima is South Korean too!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Mr Putin has said although Russia is a vast country but not a single inch of soil is UNNECESSARY. So the residence of those islands can sleep tight.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

As for the R v.s. J territorial dispute, my imaginary Ainu friend in my head is grumbling, "A pot calling a kettle black."

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Gone Mike" he would have captured all stolen territories within few days"

It seems that you live in wonderful fairy tale universe of local kindergarten. Grow up.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

If the Senkakus belong to Japan because Japan has been occupying them, the Kuriles belong to Russia because Russia has been occupying them.

Sorry, but this doesn't make a lot of sense. The Senkakus were never inhabited by anyone else before the Japanese began their short-lived development there decades ago, so of course they belong to Japan.

The Kuriles were inhabited by the Ainu for a long time before becoming a part of Japan in the 1850s and then being lost to the USSR after WWII. Their status is much less clear cut than that of the Senkakus.

Kunashir island, known in Japan as Kunashiri

It's actually known by the correct pronunciation "Kunashir" (without that extraneous final i) in Japan too, if you can speak Ainu. The kuna part means "black" and the shir (which appears in many, many Ainu place names, such as Abashir and Shiretoko) means "land" or "island". It has the same meaning as the 黒島 Kuroshima all the way down in Okinawa.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

This is quite a tough one for the Russians. To return these territories to Japan won't be popular domestically, and it will send China the wrong signal as well, given the undeclared territorial ambitions China has for much of Russia's Far East.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Those islands are too valuable strategically to return.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's quite outrageous that Russia should have changed the status quo by force at the end of world war 2 by invading these islands.

Russia's actions cannot in any way be compared with Japan changing the status quo by force when it took over the islands in the first place, or when it took over Okinawa for that matter.

I do hope the nice Mr Putin can understand Japanese "logic".

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Akula "it will send China the wrong signal"

Actually, a few years ago Putin gave to China some territories, islands of Amur river. The treaty was signed by Russia and China. By comparison to Mr Abe Chinese were sane politicians and got the positive result.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan could've had 2 of the islands back a long time ago. But instead, they had to demand all 4 back. The current situation is a bit similar to the Falkland Islands - which have British residents but are claimed by Argentina nonetheless. Britain refuses to return them because the residents don't wish it. The situation is the same vis-a-vis Japan and Russia

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Jeff Wilcox All of those Islands belong to Japan, Stalin seized those in the wane of the moment at the end of WW2. Just like eastern Europe then, Putin IS TERRITORY grabbing or holding on and is a international travesty!! Shikaku or Northern Territories or Liancourt Rocks or any of these must be settle diplomatically or the U.S. will get involved and REALLY stir things up!!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The islands belong to Russia; they took them in the war and possession is nene-tenths of the law. I get that, but with possession goes responsibility and notice how the Russians can't manage them on their own. Look how they need Japanese aid (always received with the promise to "improve ties"). Well, Russia, the islands are yours. You build something that attracts people and work out the arrangements. We in Hokkaido stopped trusting you long ago and are working hard to ensure that no more tax yen goes to your islands.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Without Russia giving back something there will be no peace treaty. Russia will try and bully Japan into a peace treaty and Putin it will not happen. Abe and Putin will give each other dirty looks at the United Nations.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Here is what would happen if those islands went back to Japan.

Discrimination against the current residents.

Military bases. Either SDF or US or both.

As I said once before, imperialism is a gamble. Japan lost out and lost territory. But not that much. So nuts to Japanese claims on Russia's islands.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@gabrial

If I were a resident, I would look to China for business ties

The main thing the islanders really need is regular ferry connections. At the moment they just have irregular (and very long) ferries to Sakhalin. Improved ties with Japan would lead to a regular service to Hokkaido, while it's hard to imagine that a ferry service from China to Kunashir would ever be remotely feasible!

@thonToddeo

It's actually known by the correct pronunciation "Kunashir" (without that extraneous final i) in Japan too, if you can speak Ainu

Most Japanese cannot speak Ainu though!

@yuriOtani

Without Russia giving back something there will be no peace treaty

Russia did previously offer to give Shikotan and Habomai back to Japan. That's as much as Japan is ever likely to get so it would be probably be a good idea to accept it

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about giving those residents dual citizenship.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The dialogue will go like this,

Russia: The islands are ours. Unless you recognize that fact, Japan, we will not even begin a dialogue.

Japan: The islands are ours. Unless you recognize that fact, Russia, we will not even begin a dialogue.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Without Russia giving back something there will be no peace treaty. Russia will try and bully Japan into a peace treaty and Putin it will not happen. Abe and Putin will give each other dirty looks at the United Nations.

Russia has "offered to give back something" numerous times. Japan wants all or nothing which it will not get. (As I said Japan never offered to return any of its spoils to Russia in 1905) Russia has gotten tired of having its generous offers rebuffed and has withdrawn its offer of compromise. However I'm sure if Japan offered to support Russia regarding the Ukraine I'm sure something could be worked out

3 ( +3 / -0 )

However I'm sure if Japan offered to support Russia regarding the Ukraine I'm sure something could be worked out

they are stuck there no one can help them and they can't pull out having crimea as a recognized russian territory , Russia putin checkmate

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Having Japan's support would be worth more to Putin. However Japan isn't free to make its own decisions - as we all know

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If we want those islands back, Mr. Abe is supposed to have assessed the present value? It is more or less like M&A in business, isn't it? I have never heard of his calculation. Someone?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

the Kurils are never brought up because the in the Treaty of San Francisco the United States forced their loss via the conditions for accepting Okinawa. it was not necessary just another humiliation forced by the victors who had already added onerous punishment by dropping two atomic bombs after Japan had already been asking for peace. The problem was Harry Truman and many other Americans of the time were racist and would rather kill certain people than than make peace...this explains a lot about the United States and the attitude in the "land of the free"

in April and May 1945 peace overtures made through Sweden http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html

Truman was a racist all his life

http://dailycaller.com/2015/07/13/democrats-change-name-of-dinner-to-honor-racist-harry-truman/

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

samwatters

notice how the Russians can't manage them on their own

Sure, sure. And the photo of lively houses fully demonstates that. lol

For your information: Japan provided humanitarian aid to these islands in 90s, but then Russians politely thanked the Japanese government and said that from now on they would develop the islands themselves. And it seems that they do it quite well, they do not ask Japan for any help, just offer possibilities for business.

are working hard to ensure that no more tax yen goes to your islands

That's new. I heard that Hokkaido provided the islands with a lot of yen (fishing rights).

YuriOtani

Russia will try and bully Japan into a peace treaty

Don't worry, it will not happen. Until now it was Japanese foreign ministry was were pressing with the peace treaty. Russians are quite happy with status-quo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Asakaze. Can I assume you are Russian? Translate your post into Japanese and send it to Nemuro. You'll be able to hear the howls in Okinawa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's quite outrageous that Russia should have changed the status quo by force at the end of world war 2 by invading these islands.

@Scrote Yes. Its totally outrageous that Russia lived up to the promises it made to Britain and America at Yalta, paying retribution to a country that attempted to invade it some years previously and mobilized forces to try again despite a non-aggression pact.

Who do these Russians think they are, pouncing on a hostile neighbor in a world war exactly as they promised their friends?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Russian residents of an island chain at the center of a dispute between Japan and Russia that has held up a treaty to formally end World War Two hope a diplomatic solution will lure tourists and investment to help refurbish rickety infrastructure.

They just live in Russia.... That's all folks

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@samwatters

I advise you to translate your previous post into Russian and send it to the Kuriles. The laugh of its inhabitants will be definitely heard in Okinawa,

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have said it before over and over, but it always bears repeating. Japan does not really need a deal. Russia does. Desperately.

Russia can continue to be dark, intransigent, and standoffish. And it can continue to expect the same outcomes it has gotten, well, forever. At the end of World War II, Russia was indisputably one of the two most powerful industrial economies this planet has ever seen. Look at it now. Japan, a horribly defeated nation, was recently one of the top two, and it hovers pretty strongly in third place with a stable, peaceful society that is arguably the envy of most OECD nations.

What an amazing, humbling reversal of fortunes. You would think that Russia would have figured it out by now, but if they haven't, well, let Russia be Russia. Eventually, Russia will lose its ability to defend its people or take care of them. It has no friends. It has very little to offer the world culturally, socially, politically, or economically. Its fossil fuels do not even get them leverage anymore. By making a deal with Japan and making a grand gesture, Russia can turn it around. But it won't. It just won't. And that is much less of a reflection on Japan than it is on Russia.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I want to address Hideo Watanabe's comment. "f we want those islands back, Mr. Abe is supposed to have assessed the present value? It is more or less like M&A in business, isn't it? I have never heard of his calculation. Someone?"

Such a calculation would be meaningless. Does Japan need the resources? Pundits will say yes, but Japan can just buy the products or resources after the Russians develop them, or not. So the answer is no. As it stands, the Russians assume all the risks and problems of taking care of industry and its settlers on the islands. Who needs that headache?

Then one might argue that the resources and location might be valuable 10 years or 50 years in the future. Well, if you really want to get into M and A analysis, look at Russian interest rates and Japanese interest rates. The "value" of those resources will be very low to Russia because of hits high interest rates, and they are. The resources might have a higher value to Japan because of its lower interest rates, but acquiring them is much more risky. It is a wash. Russia should have done a deal decades ago, or two years ago. It missed a great chance. But Russia is good at that.

A large Japanese company recently sold huge coal assets for a single dollar to a buyer, just to be rid of the headache. Russia should do the same with all four islands, but it won't. And if Japan pays more than a dollar for the islands, it won't be because that is their fair value. It will be because the Russians are getting the deal of a lifetime.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@5SpeedRacer5"It has no friends" How dreadful. With friends like westerners who needs enemies?

"It has very little to offer the world culturally" Lol. Russian art is slightly more complicated than classical primitive western-style graffity you can see everywhere on walls of dirty backyards or public toilets.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Yoshitsune

The main thing the islanders really need is regular ferry connections.

I wound't count on it. For the J government to allow ferry connections is tantamount to endorsing the status quo vis-à-vis the territorial dispute with Russia.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm not counting on it! That's exactly my point - the islanders would like a regular ferry connection to Hokkaido, but they'll never have one while the current status quo exists. That's why they're hoping for a diplomatic resolution

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@5SpeedRacer5

It has very little to offer the world culturally, socially, politically, or economically

I recommend you to read more, well-informed people would't write anything like that. Just some quick thoughts:

Politics. Russia is one of the very few countries in the world that have really independent political agenda (to my regret, Japan is absolutely not independent). Putin just said that Russia would join the fight against IS. How many country can do that?

Economy. Do you really think that Russia is a G-20 member just for nothing? One question: what country provided the rocket for Yui Kimiya in his space flight? Alas, not Japan.

Culture. Every year company "Russian Arts" holds a festival of Russian culture in Japan (mainly in Tokyo, but also in other cities), and every year tens of thousands of Japanese come to see the events, to see the "little that Russia has to offer". Why they come?

The bottom line: you can keep watching your pipe dream of "dark poor Russia" that "desperately needs a deal", but the reality is very different.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Russia keeps Kurile Islands; US keeps Okinawa; price for siding with Hitler.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

it was not necessary just another humiliation forced by the victors who had already added onerous punishment by dropping two atomic bombs after Japan had already been asking for peace. The problem was Harry Truman and many other Americans of the time were racist and would rather kill certain people than than make peace...this explains a lot about the United States and the attitude in the "land of the free"

in April and May 1945 peace overtures made through Sweden http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html

Let me just dismantle your argument there. Humiliation? How about the "prostitute" tag Japan has given to the many women who were forced to sexually serve the military? Asking for peace? Well Japan was trying to negotiate a peace through Russia - but that didn't work out because Russia declared war soon after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Thus Japan used the atom bombs as its "face-saver" for surrendering, when really Japan surrendered because Russia had entered the war. Japan had no-one to defend against an invasion from the north (all their forces were south to repel an allied invasion)

Racist? Well that is true - but then Japan was much the same. It repeatedly told its citizens to commit suicide rather than be ravished at the hands of the enemy. (Which they had nothing really to fear about) This happened at Saipan, and also with the Okinawans. How about the experiments conducted by Unit 731, of Chinese prisioners, as well as allied POWs? Somewhat racist I should think. No experiments were conducted on Japanese people, that's for sure.

So at the end of the day, with regard to the islands Japan has to accept the one thing that it seems to have so much trouble accepting: historical fact

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@5speedracer5

You're undermining your argument by saying Russia has little to offer culturally. Russians have made enormous contributions to music, ballet, literature, chess, science... I agree with you that their politics stink and that their economy is a one-track kleptocracy, but Russian culture deserves great respect

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Personally I'd really like to see a resolution. There is much that Russia and Japan can achieve with better relations.

As an example, a Hokkaido-Sakhalin rail tunnel would give Japanese exporters a faster and cheaper way to get their products to Europe than the current method of having to ship everything. On the Russian side connecting Sakhalin to the Baikal Amur Mainline would be relatively easy.

Japanese technology, Russian natural resources. Plenty of synergy there. The problem of the islands just seems so intractable but it would be great to see better relations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Maybe they should just share islands since people already living their.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

they should just share islands since people already living their

Japan has been saying they can live there even after the Islands returned.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Japan has been saying they can live there even after the Islands returned.

That won't happen. Japan might get two back - at best

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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