Upper house

Threats begin as top politician claims Hokkaido belongs to Russia

On April 7, TV Asahi reported that Sergey Mironov, leader of the Just Russia political party, said on his party’s website that “Russia has all the rights in Hokkaido.”

Mironov is a major political figure who served as speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament for nearly 10 years.

As outrageous as his statement was, it came as no surprise.

On August 16, 1945, Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, under the name of Chairman Joseph Stalin of the State Defense Committee, demanded that United States President Harry S. Truman include half north of the island of Hokkaido in the area to be handed over by Japan to Soviet forces.

Fortunately, Truman refused – half of Hokkaido would have become Russian territory if he hadn’t.

On another occasion, Mironov said, “I hope Japanese politicians have not completely forgotten the lessons of World War II and the fate of the Kwantung Army.”

He didn’t explain what he meant by “the lessons of World War II” or “the fate of the Kwantung Army,” but the insinuation was clear: defy Russia and you will suffer.

[James Brown is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University]

On August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union violated the Soviet-Japanese neutrality pact and invaded Manchuria, committing the most terrible atrocities, including the looting of money and property, the assault of women and the capture of young people civilian men just to increase the number of prisoners of war.

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After Japan surrendered, the Soviet Union kidnapped over 600,000 Japanese and placed them in forced labor. If there is a lesson to be learned from the war, it is that surrendering to the Russians will not guarantee peace or security.

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An aerial view of Japan’s Northern Territories as seen from the northern part of Hokkaido.

More than 20 years ago, this author visited Kamchatka in the Russian Far East. A young Russian interpreter told me that he had been wrongly taught that “the four southernmost Kuril Islands [in Japan’s Northern Territories] were stolen by Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. He said he only discovered that the Kuril Islands were Japanese territory for 70 years when he came to Japan to study at Shinshu University.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also an information war with false information launched from both sides. Neither side’s information should be taken at face value, but at the very least it is clear that Russia should not be trusted.

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(Read the column in Japanese on this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun