On this day, February 7th, security is tightened at the Russian embassy in Japan. The police make sure the ultra-right nationalists don't approach the building. On the Day of the Northern Territories in Tokyo, they argue about our Southern Kuriles.
On February 7th, Tokyo officially held an annual convention, where the islands were discussed in the language of diplomacy. Maps are more eloquent than words. In this government commercial about the investment attractiveness of Japan (which the BBC broadcasts), the country added the Russian islands of Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup, and Habomai. There's a gross geopolitical mistake among numbers and charts. But they don't notice it or don't want to notice it.
Mikhail Galuzin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Japan: "Recognition of the results of WWII is an essential factor of modern international life. It's because the UN Charter states that they aren't subject to any revision".
The South Kuril Islands are visible with the naked eye from the Japanese coast. From Cape Nosappu on the island of Hokkaido, you can see both Kunashir and Habomai. It's a tradition to appreciate the islands from here in good weather. Here you can also buy souvenirs. The most popular one is a mug with the exact area of each South Kuril island. At the same time, the locals are surprised by this attention from their neighbors. It hasn't been considered the outskirts of civilization for a long time: industry and infrastructure are well developed. The birth rate is increasing from year to year; families have lived on the islands for 3 or even 4 generations.
Alexander Verkhovsky, ex-member of the Federation Council: "We need to show what we have there. Thanks to businesses, which created jobs there, and the state with its federal program, which created schools, kindergartens, and the transportation infrastructure".
Vitaly Gomilevsky, deputy of the Sakhalin Oblast Duma: "We just need to conduct a serious, well-organized, house-to-house poll of all of the residents of the Kuril Islands. I mean those people who live, work, and raise their children on those islands".
Acting Governor of Sakhalin Oblast Valery Limarenko also supported the initiative to hold a referendum on the South Kuriles.
Valery Limarenko, Acting Governor of Sakhalin Oblast: "The Kuril Islands are Russian lands. No doubt about it. I know the opinion of the people living on the Kuriles on this issue. We plan to conduct an open public poll of the residents to settle this discussion."
Here's what the residents say.
"Our territory is our territory. There shouldn't be any argument about that".
"Certainly, they're our Russian islands. I've been living here for 38 years. Guests are welcome here".
They welcome the Japanese who come as part of a visa-free regime with great honors. This cemetery is one of the most important places for a Japanese delegation to visit. Relatives come to visit the graves of those who lived here until the mid-1940s. In the local schools, they teach geography using the correct maps, which show that the Southern Kuriles are within the borders of the Russian Federation. They're Iturup, Shikotan, Habomai and the Lesser Kuril Chain.