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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 February 3 - 9  > PM Suga steps into his predecessor’s shoes on ‘northern territories’ issue
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2021 February 3 - 9 [POLITICS]

PM Suga steps into his predecessor’s shoes on ‘northern territories’ issue

February 8, 2021

A national rally calling for the return of the Russian-held northern territories took place on February 7 in Tokyo, hosted by the organizing committee consisting of the national government and six local organizations.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide sent a video message to the rally. In the video message, PM Suga said that he will “steadily engage in negotiations” with Russia in line with the 2018 Japan-Russia summit talks which reached an agreement that territorial negotiations will be held based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration. This indicates that PM Suga will follow his predecessor’s stance to abandon successive governments’ policy of demanding the return of the “four Russian-held islands” off Hokkaido (Habomai, Shikotan, Kunashiri, and Etorofu) and instead settle the territorial issue with the return of “two islands”. In the video, PM Suga, like ex-PM Abe, avoided saying that the northern territories are an inherent part of the national territory of Japan.

Along with representatives of other political parties, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Kami Tomoko attended the rally as a guest speaker.

Kami in her speech referred to Russia’s 2020 constitutional amendments in which a new clause banning the ceding of Russian land which will make it difficult to settle territorial issues. Kami said that the JCP condemns such a hegemonic act by Russia and that such a clause will produce no effect in the international community.

In addition, Kami said that the JCP will work hard to win the return of the “four islands” including Kunashiri and Etorofu over which Japan has the historical legitimacy to claim sovereignty. She said that the Japanese government should take the position of correcting its mistake in the post-war disposition which was made based on the Yalta Agreement which violates the postwar “territorial non-expansion” principle and the San Francisco Treaty. She also called on the government to make efforts to solve the territorial issue with Russia based on internationally-accepted norms.

Past related article:
> Abe in annual convention says nothing about return of ‘four northern islands’ [February 8, 2019]
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