Protests in Moscow over the possible return of the Kuril Islands to Japan
Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin will meet tomorrow in the Russian capital. Both are ready to discuss the disputed islands, but nationalists in both countries disagree. Some fear Russia’s seeming international weakness.
Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hundreds of Russians protested against a feared giveaway of strategic Kuril Islands to Japan on Sunday, two days before a key summit between the countries' leaders in Moscow.
The largest gathering was held in Suvorovskaya Square, just outside Moscow’s city centre, with up to 500 people demanding Kremlin not cede any of the Japanese islands seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two.
The issue of sovereignty over the islands has prevented the two nations from signing a peace treaty. At present, the islands are under Russian administration but some are claimed by Japan.
For Svetlana Fedosova, a 26-year-old protester, "Other countries will also demand re-addressing the results of World War II,” most notably, “Karelia, Kaliningrad, and all the lands we've conquered," i.e. Russia's western regions that previously belonged to Finland and Germany.
Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin will meet tomorrow in Moscow, after talks between their respective foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono.
Both leaders appear willing to discuss the issue in order to improve trading ties. However, both have to contend with hardcore nationalists who refuse any surrender.
In recent years Moscow had repeatedly called on to Tokyo to address the dispute, and invest in Eastern Russia, but so far there have been with few results.
The Kurils are strategically located at the entrance of the Okhotsk Sea and have rich fishing grounds and mineral deposits (iron ore, oil and natural gas).