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Japan’s former PM to visit Crimea on fact-finding tour despite rebukes from government

March 10, 2015, 8:53 UTC+3 TOKYO
Yukio Hatoyama hopes his visit to Crimea might help understand what could be done to help Japan materialize its decades-old hope to get back under its control a group of Southern Kuril islands
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Japan’s former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama

Japan’s former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama

©  EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

TOKYO, March 10. /TASS/. Japan’s former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama plans to make a fact-finding visit to Crimea in the run-up to the first anniversary the peninsula’s reunification with Russia "to gauge local opinion", Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday.

Hatoyama, who was in office from September 2009 through to June 2010, will travel to Crimea from Tuesday to Thursday, a source accompanying him on a trip to Moscow told Kyodo.

He told reporters he wanted to take a personal look at whether Crimea’s reunification with Russia after sixty years of staying under the Ukrainian jurisdiction was justified.

"Facts haven't been delivered to Japan accurately," Hatoyama told reporters. "I would like to see myself how residents are feeling."

"An opinion poll showed that residents expressed their wish for annexation (the way the US and their allies refer to the act of reunification — TASS)," he said. "What's most important in democracy is what local residents feel."

Hatoyama also said he had held consultations with a number of Russian officials as regards the trip to Crimea.

He hopes that his visit to the Republic of Crimea might help understand what could be done in terms of helping Japan materialize its decades-old hope to get back under its control a group of islands of the Southern Kuril range — Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and the Habomai archipelago. The islands went over to the USSR at the end of World War II but the Japanese political quarters believe they constitute the so-called ‘northern territories’.

"If we are at loggerheads with Russia, it will be all the more difficult to get the Northern Territories back," Hatoyama said.

Japanese government has called on him to cancel his plans of going to Crimea. High rank officials in Tokyo fear the fact he enters the Crimean Federal District on a Russian visa might compromise Japan’s officially stated position, which claimed that Moscow annexed Crimea.

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