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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 15 - 21  > Right-wing Dietmember suggesting war over Russian-held territory should resign
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2019 May 15 - 21 [POLITICS]

Right-wing Dietmember suggesting war over Russian-held territory should resign

May 15, 2019

A Dietmember of the right-leaning “Nippon Ishin no Kai” party was ejected from the party on May 14 after suggesting that Japan may need to resort to war to recapture the Russian-held “Northern Territories”. By making the outrageous remarks which clearly disregard the pacifist Japanese Constitution, he ignored the parliamentarian’s constitutional obligation to uphold the supreme law.

The Dietmember, Maruyama Hodaka, last week took part in a visa-free tour to Kunashiri Island, one of the four northern islands controlled by Russia and claimed by Japan. During the tour, he said to other tour participants who used to live on the island, “Are you in favor of waging a war to get back this island?” and “Do you think there is a way other than a war?” Later, Maruyama retracted these remarks and offered an apology, but he expressed his intent to serve as an independent Dietmember for the rest of his term.

The “Northern Territories” were unjustly taken over by the former Soviet Union at the end of WWII in violation of the principle of territorial non-expansion. With the Abe government’s territorial talks with Russia reaching a stalemate, it is serious that a member of the Ishin party, a supplementary force to the PM Abe-led ruling block, referred to the need for war to effectively deal with the issue.

Although not a ruling party, the Ishin party is a supporter of Abe’s move to change the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. The founder of the party, former Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto Toru, attacked the article by saying that the article’s basic idea is that Japan’s security will be maintained even if Japan does nothing to ensure its safety. Apparently, Maruyama’s remarks stemmed from the party’s deep-rooted hostility to the article.

The Ishin party should not just remove Maruyama’s name from its membership list, but also pressure him to resign as a Dietmember.

Ex-islanders upset

Upset by Maruyama's "waging war against Russia to win back the islands" remarks, former islanders are demanding that he step down as a Dietmember.

Maruyama apologized for his "war" comment that he had drunkenly made, but former Shikotan islander Kawata Hirotoshi, 84, angrily said, "The statement was so outrageous that he can't just apologize it away."

Kawata said, "I'm worried that his remarks may adversely affect the territorial talks. This is not an issue concerning only former islanders but every Japanese. We former islanders are old now, and we don't have time on our side. We want the national government to continue negotiations with Russia to resolve the territorial dispute at the earliest possible date."

Nakata Isamu, 90, an advisor to a group of the former islanders, said, "I read of his remarks in the newspaper and it made me very angry. He used the word 'war'. It's hard to understand his notion of common sense and his character. He should resign his Diet seat immediately." He also said, "The Russian side says the Russian-held islands (Habomai, Shikotan, Kunashiri, Etorofu) are a consequence of WWII. That's ridiculous, but even more ridiculous is Maruyama's remarks implying a need for 'war' against Russia to regain these islands. It is the Japanese government that must confront Russia by means of diplomacy over the issue of the islands."

Noto Toshio, 75, vice head of a former islanders' association, said, "It is absurd that such a person is a Diet lawmaker. He belongs to the 'Nippon Ishin no Kai' party which favors constitutional amendments. It is scary that this party together with the Abe government seeks to adversely revise the Constitution."

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