Monday, February 7, 2011

Northern Territories Day

February 7th is Northern Territories Day in Japan.

This is the annual reaffirmation that Japan holds dear its sovereign rights over the islands of the Northern Territories that, contrary to existing recognition even at the time, were occupied by the then-Soviet Army *after* the August 15th 1945 Japanese statement of surrender... and never returned.

Every year, rallies are held; one in Toukyou (Tokyo) which was keynoted by Kan souri daijin (Prime Minister N. Kan) and the other on Hokkaidou from whose easternmost tip the ill-taken islands can be plainly seen.
Japan has designated Feb. 7 as "Northern Territories Day," saying that a treaty dating back to that day in 1855 supports its claim to the islands.

Kan was the top speaker at a government-backed rally of about 1,500 people in Tokyo that has been held annually since 1981 to mark the anniversary. He vowed that Japan will not back down from its claim and said visits there by Russian leaders are "an unforgivable outrage."
The Russian government has recently made the comment that "(Russia) is tired of discussing the issue".

Very well... if that's how they want to play it... every, *EVERY* single negotiation between Japan and Russia, every fisheries agreement, every request by the Russians for Japanese investment, hell, every matter that could possibly be discussed should be placed on hiatus with a simple note:
(Japan) is tired of discussing the issue as well. There will be no further discussions *on any matter* until the Northern Territories are returned to Japan.
After that, then we talk Peace Treaty.

After THAT, then we talk trade and investment.

Any effort to talk around the ban, to find Parliamentary channels or to involve business interests, should be ruthlessly ferreted out and made public. If such attempts violate Japanese law, arrests should be made.

I'd even argue for a suspension of existing trade, but a couple of matters are likely out of reach unless an embargo were to be passed: The 'multinational company' cover that the Sakhalin oil and gas project operates under is probably strong enough that business interests in the Japanese trading companies with minority shares in the project could claim to be unfairly penalized were their delivery contracts to be threatened; The Russian business interests in Vladivostok are almost entirely dependent upon the import trade from Japan, mostly of used vehicles. Again, closing that door likely harms friends and does nothing to motivate Moscow (the Putin clique has a history of hating the Vladivostok interests and the feeling seems to be mutual).

But the "we are tired" argument should be a clarion call on this matter. Letting the Russians get away with saying it, much less tolerating their occupation of the islands, is unacceptable. Period.

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