A group of Russians held a demonstration of protest against Japan’s “Northern Territories Day” involving the four Russian-held islands.
The protesters, including supporters of Russia’s opposition Communist Party, gathered on Thursday in front of a building housing the Japanese Consulate General in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in Russia’s Far Eastern region of Sakhalin.
They held banners that stated the islands are Russian territory, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should keep his hands off the islands.
Russia controls the four islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.
A 37-year-old man who took part in the protest said that his grandfather fought in World War Two and defeated Japan to bring the war to an end. He said he cannot accept Japan’s claim that would effectively change the outcome of the war.
Officials of the opposition party said they initially planned to hold a rally but the city authorities did not allow them to do so. So they decided, instead, to take to the streets holding the banners. They said 10 people participated.
The officials said that behind the authorities’ refusal to their request may have been concerns on the government side that it could lead to opposition to President Vladimir Putin who is in talks with Japan over the territorial issue.
In Sakhalin, which has actual jurisdiction over the four islands, several hundreds of people rallied in December and January in protest against a possible handover of the islands to Japan.