News / Asia

Japan Pledges to Solve Territorial Dispute with Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his speech during a national rally marking the Northern Territories Day in Tokyo, Feb. 7, 2013.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his speech during a national rally marking the Northern Territories Day in Tokyo, Feb. 7, 2013.
Japan says two Russian fighter jets briefly entered Japanese airspace near the northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday, prompting Japan's air force to scramble fighter jets in response.  Tokyo lodged a protest with Moscow but Russia has denied that its jets had entered Japanese airspace.  The incident comes amid a 60-year old feud between the two countries over northern territories. Japan's prime minister is now seeking a solution to the dispute.

 
The Japanese prime minister, who has taken an assertive stance on disputed territories since returning to office in late December, pledged Thursday to resolve a lingering islands dispute with Russia.

The decades-old impasse has meant the two countries have technically remained in a state of war since 1945.

Japan claims four islands in the northwestern Pacific. The closest is just several kilometers from the northernmost point of Hokkaido (Japan) and some 1,000 kilometers to the south of Kamchatka peninsula on the Russian mainland.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke briefly to thousands of people at an annual rally in Tokyo dedicated to the return of the islands.

Abe says negotiations with Moscow are ongoing with the aim of settling the ownership question so a peace treaty can be signed with Russia. He expresses “strong hope” progress will be made and the dispute can finally be resolved.

The Soviet military invaded the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril islands within days of declaring war against Japan in August of 1945. Japan surrendered on August 15, bringing to an end the Second World War. The Japanese civilians living on the islands were expelled.

Japan has since contended that Soviet troops continued the August 1945 offensive against its forces even after the Imperial Japanese Army surrendered.

Japan says the unresolved territorial issue still prevents it from concluding a peace treaty with Russia.

Japan had been awarded a portion of Sakhalin as part of the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905 after Japanese forces won a seven-month war with Russia.

Japan began colonizing the Kuril islands in the late 19th century. The ongoing dispute involves four of the chain's 18 islands.

Russia has been strengthening its military presence in the Kurils in recent years and visits by Russian leaders to the disputed islands have prompted strong criticism from Tokyo.

Moscow considers the islands claimed by Japan to be an integral part of the Russian Federation.

The Russians have proposed joint use of the disputed territory, which has potentially lucrative onshore and offshore mineral resources.

Leaders of both countries, in recent years, have jointly expressed a desire to solve the dispute through talks.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack Off from: Mehoff,Ca 31702
February 08, 2013 4:56 AM
It is difficult to fathom...nothing better to do than ramp up military tensions...what complete idiots...You make my taxes go up in America where we crush all that is evil.....I cannot imagine Nazi Germany wielding the power of America....has at its fingertips.
We could conquer the world and we don't want it....someday another hitler will come and your last vestige of freedom will be how could they let this happen...The USA must assemble world intellects and decide how to proceed. War must end. Famine must end. All kill themselves regardless of stature. We should stand united in building a better world....someone needs to get a plan to get this next generation motivated...or we fall to petty jealousy's wants and needs that are not satosfied if they d not come freely and naturally...love JoeG

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs