News

Koizumi-Putin Summit to Discuss Territorial Dispute

After attending the APEC leaders' summit in South Korea, Russia's president visits Japan. During his three-day stay, Vladimir Putin is to meet with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and other Japanese officials. The two leaders are not expected to take progress on a bitter territorial dispute.

For Russia and Japan, World War II has technically never ended. The two countries for 60 years have failed to sign a peace treaty because of their disagreement over ownership over four small islands in the north Pacific.

To the Russians, the disputed islands are the Kurils. The Japanese call them the Northern Territories.

Immediately after Japan surrendered in August 1945, the Soviet Army seized the islands, but Japan still claims them. Despite extensive negotiations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the two countries have not been able to resolve the territorial dispute.

Spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi at the Japanese Foreign Ministry says Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in a recent interview on Russian radio, cautioned against expecting significant progress on the issue during his meeting with Mr. Putin.

"He was not pessimistic. But he was not optimistic enough to envision that an easy solution will come out any time soon. And he reiterated that by solving the territorial issue both nations are going to be able to move on to the next step to have the peace treaty," said spokesman Taniguchi.

There is another party claiming the islands. They are the Ainu, an indigenous people who were ousted from the Kurils and surrounding areas over the centuries by Russians and Japanese. Most live on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

The head of an Ainu organization, Tadashi Kato, says his group delivered petitions this month to the Russian and Japanese governments.

Mr. Kato say his group has repeatedly appealed to both governments and now they want Moscow and Tokyo to receive the same message - that the four islands "are neither Russian nor Japanese land." He says there is evidence in bilateral agreements over the centuries to back that claim.

Professor Kazuyoshi Ohtsuka, of Osaka Gakuin University, one of Japan's top experts on the Ainu, says the Japanese government was traditionally a proponent of Ainu fishing rights when it was in Tokyo's interest. But these days, he says, the Japanese government discriminates against the Ainu and does not recognize historical agreements granting them territorial rights.

Japanese officials are not sympathetic to the Ainu position.

"That is not the position of the Japanese government," says Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi.

Russian media quote officials in Moscow as being equally dismissive of the Ainu claims.

Because the island dispute is seen as intractable, Mr. Putin is expected to spend most of his three days in Japan talking about other issues. High on the agenda will be the growing trade between the two countries, especially Japanese purchases of Russian oil and gas.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs