TOKYO, February 7. /TASS/. Washington backs Tokyo on the issue of the "Northern territories" (how Japan refers to the southern part of the Kuril Islands) and recognizes Japanese sovereignty over them, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said on Monday on the occasion of Japan's Northern Territories Day.
"On February 7th, as Japan observes Northern Territories day, I want to be crystal clear, the United States supports Japan on the issue of the Northern Territories and has recognized Japanese sovereignty over the four disputed Islands since the 1950s," Emanuel emphasized in a video message posted on his Twitter page. At the same time, he expressed support for the efforts of "the Japanese and Russian governments in trying to achieve a long overdue peace treaty."
The US ambassador to Japan also expressed the view that "Russia's disregard for the sovereignties of others is also not new, nor is it limited to the Northern Territories," noting that he spoke with the Ukrainian ambassador to Japan on Monday. He mentioned Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, repeating recent accusations from the West that Russia is allegedly concentrating troops on its border with Ukraine.
Concerns over Moscow’s alleged preparations for ‘an invasion of Ukraine’ have been increasingly announced in the West and in Kiev recently. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these statements as an "empty and groundless" escalation of tension, emphasizing that Russia posed no threat to anyone. At the same time, the Kremlin press secretary did not exclude some possible provocations to justify such claims and warned that the attempts to resolve the Ukrainian conflict by force would carry extremely serious consequences.
Northern Territories Day
Since 1981, the National Rallies to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories have been taking place every year on February 7 to mark the Treaty of Shimoda, which was the first Russian-Japanese agreement, signed in 1855. Such events are traditionally attended by ministers, legislators from the ruling and opposition parties as well as some former residents of the Kurils’ southern part.
For decades, Moscow and Tokyo have been holding consultations in order to clinch a post-World War II peace treaty. The southern Kuril Islands issue remains the key sticking point. In 1945, the whole archipelago was handed over to the Soviet Union. Tokyo laid claims to Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of uninhabited islands. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated that Moscow’s sovereignty over the islands is enshrined in international law and cannot be called into question.