Talks between Japan and Russia over their long-standing territorial dispute are set to be held this January, but sources are already saying that Russia is preparing their defense of the legitimacy of their claims. They will reportedly be using “historical legitimacy” as they had control of the Northern Territories, also known as the Kuril Islands in the last years of World War II.
The recent controversy over Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine has also made it an imperative for them to take a tough stance on their claim. Japan says that the then Soviet Union illegally annexed several of the islands, particularly the Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islets. They argue that there was no legal basis for the occupation because when the Soviets declared war against Japan, they violated a neutrality agreement.
When the two countries’ deputy foreign ministers met last August, they said they will be discussing the historical issues in their next meeting, scheduled this month. But Abe’s visit to the shrine honoring Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals, may change the tone of the meeting. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement after Abe’s visit, saying that some sectors in Japan have a different interpretation of the outcome of World War II compared to the rest of the world’s understanding. The sources say that they will not allow Japan to play the “victim” of Russia’s wartime actions.
[ via Asahi ]
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