September 21, 2012 – Meeting of APIR Center with “Association of former residents of Chishima province and Habomai Islands”

On September 26, 2012 in the conference hall of the Far Eastern State University of Humanities took place a meeting of representatives of the Asia Pacific Study Center with the delegation of the public organization “Association of former residents of Chishima province and Habomai  Islands” (Japan).

Japanese side was represented by the deputy chairman of the Union of citizens and Chisimskih Habomayskih Islands Erodzuya Tsutomu, advisor of the organization Yasuyuki Ueda, Vice Consul, Consulate General of Japan in Khabarovsk Yamada Siora etc.

Russian side was represented by the Director of APIR Center Valery Timoshenko and experts Andrey Samokhin and Alexander Ivanov.

The meeting was opened by the Deputy of association Mr. Erodzuya Tsutomu. He told about the history of the so-called “Kuril problem”, focusing on the Shimoda contract of 1855 and expressed the hope for a speedy solution to the problem “on the basis of justice.”

In response, the Director of APIR Center V. Timoshenko said that the problem of the “Northern Territories” exists only in Japan. There is no such issue in Russia. He specified that the territory ceded to the Soviet Union after the second world war, by the decisions of the Yalta, Potsdam and San Francisco conferences. But still exists the problem of a peace treaty conclusion. The only starting point for discussion on the problems of the peace treaty can be a Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956. He expressed bewilderment because Japanese Government signs documents and then declares new unfounded claims.

Erodzuya Tsutomu spoke about his childhood memories of the war, when the islands were “occupied” by Russians. He repeatedly emphasized that the appearance of Russian residents in Japan was a complete surprise, since the Soviet Union and Japan had a neutrality pact. Then, he said, in 1945-1946, began the forcible expulsion of the Japanese from the territory of the southern Kuriles.

V. Timoshenko expressed sympathy for the suffering of civilians during the war, as the Russian people are very familiar with it and assigned responsibility for this suffering on the politicians who waged war.

A. Samokhin reminded that nobody moved Japanese by force. They were offered a choice, either to take Soviet citizenship and remain in the Islands, or to resettle in Japan. So a few thousand Japanese have expressed a desire to remain in their homeland on Sakhalin. On replica of Mr. Tsutomu Erodzuya about “nostalgic feelings” of Japanese people responded that in Russia, when someone have a nostalgic feeling he goes home and embrace a birch and if Japanese have become tempting “to embrace the rock Kunashir,” it is not forbidden.

Next, Mr. Tsutomu Erodzuya detailed the activities of his organization, which aims to strengthen the friendship and good neighborly relations between the Japanese and Russian. He described the regular trips to the Islands, about the trips of inhabitants of the Kuril Islands to Japan the medical assistance that Japanese side is soaring to Russian.

V. Timoshenko welcomed such acts and said that instead of nominating territorial claims, it is best to address the issues of strengthening friendship and good neighborliness, including negotiations on permanent residence in the Japanese islands, which must and will remain under Russian jurisdiction.

Mr. Tsutomu Erodzuya continued the conversation on strengthening and expanding economic ties between the Russian Far East and Japan. He said Japan’s willingness to invest in agriculture and industry, referring to its close relationship with the Japanese business community, in particular with Bank of Hokkaido.

In these statements responded A. Ivanov, noting the extremely low contribution of Japan in investing the Kuril Islands. It has given an example, that now the big interest to islands is shown by investors from South Korea. More than 140 South Korean companies are active in the South Kuril Islands If the Japanese will hesitate then it would be difficult for them to compete with the Koreans.

In conclusion, the participants expressed their desire to continue to expand contacts in the area of “people’s diplomacy” and contribute to the early signing of a peace treaty between Russia and Japan.

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