Medvedev's Kuril trip gives Japan another island headache

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by amoy, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    As the southern Senkaku islands dispute rumbles on, more trouble in the north
    By Robert Michael Poole 1 November, 2010

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) speaks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a lunch at the residence in Gorki before visiting the Kuril Islands.
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev became the first Russian leader to visit the Kuril Islands when he set foot there today, despite requests from Japan for him not to do so.

    It reopens a dispute over what Japan call the "Northern Territories" in the middle of ongoing friction between Japan and China over the southern Senkaku Islands.

    Female dancers, descendants of Ainu people, perform traditional rituals to thank their God and nature for a large catch at a theater in Lake Akan, Hokkaido.
    Video shown
    According to Mainichi the latest twist in the Senkaku islands dispute saw some 30 lawmakers being shown six minutes and 30 seconds of footage of a Chinese trawler ramming into Japanese patrol vessels at the Diet.

    The incident on September 7 saw the trawler's captain kept in Japanese custody for 17 days, prompting Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to threaten unspecified 'further action' against Japan were he not released.

    Protests were held in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Shenyang, but after the captain's eventual return to China, Japan counter-claimed for damage to their vessels. Protests then took place in October in Tokyo and six other Japanese cities against China for what some Japanese see as China's increasing territorial assertions.

    Hiroshi Nakai, chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee said of the video of the incident, "The images at the time of the collisions were very sharp. The Chinese fishing boat rammed into (the Japanese vessels) and escaped ... and this was clearly confirmed."

    There have been calls in Japan for the footage to be released publicly, but Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Democratic Party of Japan are apparently concerned about further deterioration of Tokyo-Beijing ties so have so far refused to bow to the request.

    Indigenous Ainu struggle to be heard
    Kan said today that the visit of Russian leader Medvedev to the northern Kuril Islands was "regrettable" while Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov said Medvedev was free to visit any Russian region he chose.

    Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in front of a map of islands known as Northern Territories in Japan.Both disputes have been ongoing since the end of World War II. Japan controlled the Senkaku islands, known in China as the Diaoyu Islands, from 1895 until 1945 when the United States took over administration, eventually handing them back to Japan in 1972. Taiwan has also claimed them.

    The administration of the Kuril Islands was never clearly resolved after World War II with agreements, declarations and treaties failing to specify exactly where four of the islands belong.

    The original natives of the Kuril Islands meanwhile, the Ainu -- who also live in Hokkaido -- are struggling to have their voice heard over the issue and have long faced discrimination, but in 2008 were finally recognized in law as the indigenous race of Hokkaido giving them more voice.

    The Ainu culture dates back at least 3,000 years as hunter-gatherers, with trade with Japan beginning around the 13th century. The Ainu originally also lived in Sakhalin, Russia's largest island that has also been subject

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