Japan protests Russia’s scrapping of disputed-island travel agreements
Tokyo, Sep 6 (EFE).- Tokyo on Tuesday protested against Moscow’s scrapping of bilateral agreements that had for decades facilitated travel to islands disputed by the two countries for former Japanese residents.
“This situation derives from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but they are now trying to put the blame on us, so we strongly protest,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference.
His statements come hours after Russia said it had canceled the October 1991 agreement with Japan that allowed former residents of the islands – known as the Northern Territories in Japan and Southern Kurils in Russia – to visit them without the need for a visa, and another of September 1999 of simplified visits for former residents and their relatives to visit their hometowns on the islands.
The decision of Moscow was “a forced measure and a very sensible” in “response to the illegal sanction pressure exerted by the Japanese government and its joining the West’s Russophobic policy,” according to Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma (lower house) cited by Russian state news agency TASS.
Although discovered by Russian navigators, the Kurils became part of Japan in 1875 under the Treaty of Saint Petersburg.
The islands, located north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, were incorporated into the former Soviet Union after World War II by the Treaty of San Francisco.
In 1956, the USSR and Japan signed a declaration by which they resumed diplomatic relations and established the rules for the potential signing of a peace treaty, which included the return to Japan of two of the four Kurils.
Both countries renounced this agreement for different reasons, but Tokyo continues to claim the four islands, a dispute that continues to be one of the biggest points of friction between the two countries and the main reason why they have not yet signed a peace agreement. EFE