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Measures for the reversion of

the Northern Territories


    The Hokkaido government is taking the following measures in cooperation with relevant organizations, such as the Northern Territories Issue Countermeasures Association, Japan League for the Return of the Northern Territories Inc., the League of Residents of Chishima Habomai Islands and the Hokkaido Committee to Promote Exchanges with Four Northern Islands.

Reversion campaign

1. Unifying and arousing public opinion

     To enhance people's understanding of and increase interest in the Northern Territories issue, public awareness activities are carried out mainly during "Northern Territories Reversion Month" (August) and on "Northern Territories Day" (February 7).
Reversion of the Northern Territories is also promoted through a variety of public awareness projects and at gatherings for the reversion of the Northern Territories. Campaigns to collect signatures are also conducted within and outside Hokkaido to petition the Diet (80,743,950 people had signed by the end of December 2008).

2. Arousing public opinion around the world


    Efforts are also being made to arouse public opinion outside Japan so that the whole world will understand the validity of Japan's demand to restore the Northern Territories to Japanese sovereignty, thus creating a good international environment for the reversion.
Exchanges with Russia are also facilitated in the fields of culture, sports and business to improve the environment for a solution to the territorial issue.

Dispatching a mission
Dispatching a mission

3. Fostering successors of the reversion campaign


    Because many of former residents who have played a central role in the reversion campaign are aging or have died, successors are being fostered by sending delegations of second- and third-generation young people, holding seminars and distributing teaching materials for elementary and junior high school students.


Exchanges with the northern islands

     Since mutual visits based on the new system of visa-free exchanges, began in April 1992, Russians living on the northern islands have developed an understanding of the Northern Territories issue and Japanese people.

1. Improvement and consolidation of exchanges with the northern islands

    By increasing the number of delegates and continuing exchanges among specialists, exchanges with Russian residents on the northern islands were improved and consolidated in 2009.

2. Cooperation with the Hokkaido Committee to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands and the National Council to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands.

   Regarding exchange projects, the Hokkaido Committee to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands arranges visits to and from Hokkaido, and the National Council to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands is in charge of nationwide projects. The Hokkaido government is promoting exchange projects in close cooperation with the Hokkaido Committee to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands to facilitate mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Russia and to solve the territorial issue as early as possible. Since exchanges with the northern islands without visas began in April 1992, 8,853 Japanese people, including those involved in nationwide projects, have visited the islands and 6,691 people from the islands have visited Hokkaido and other parts of Japan by the end of November 2008. In 2008, visits from Hokkaido took place five times and visits to Hokkaido took place six times, as part of the exchange project conducted by the Hokkaido Committee to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands. The Hokkaido government subsidized one of these visits from Hokkaido.

Governor Takahashi visits Kunashiri Island
The Hokkaido Governor visits the islands

 

No. of visits No. of visitors No. of acceptances No. of visitors accepted
2008
6
260
13
215
Total from 1992 to 2008
104
5,216
100
4,332

To the homepage of the Hokkaido Committee to Promote Exchanges with the Four Northern Islands




Mini lesson on the Northern Territories -- What are exchanges without passports or visas?

       Mutual visits between the current residents of the Islands and residents of Japan, so-called the exchanges without passports or visas, began in 1992 based on an agreement between the Japanese and Russian (then Soviet) governments. Because a territorial dispute exists between Japan and Russia (the former Soviet Union), and acquisition of visas to enter the northern islands is inconsistent with the Japanese government's claim that the "Northern Territories are inherent territories of Japan," the government is requesting people to refrain from attaining visas when visiting the islands.
       Under such circumstances, a new system for Japanese people to visit the Northern Territories without passports or visas was established through a correspondence between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Soviet Union on October 14, 1991. The system was established to facilitate mutual understanding until the Northern Territories issue and other problems concerning a peace treaty between Japan and Soviet are solved, and to contribute to the solution of such issues. The system was also enacted based on a mutual understanding between the two countries that the legal position of both sides should be respected.

【Persons eligible for the exchanges without passports or visas】

At first, persons eligible for exchanges without visas were designated as follows:

1.Former residents of the northern islands (including their children, grandchildren and their spouses)
2.People involved in the campaign for the reversion of the Northern Territories (including members of the Diet and local government assemblies and workers of national and local governments)
3.Newspeople
4.Companions of people categorized in 1) to 3) (interpreters, doctors, secretariat workers, etc.)
The system was revised by the agreement at a Cabinet meeting on April 17, 1998, to include:
5.Specialists (of academic, cultural, social and other fields engaged in activities contributing to the purpose of the visits)


The exchanges without passports or visas - Shikotan -


Free visits to the islands

      At the meeting of Japanese and Russian leaders in November 1998, free visits by former islanders and their families to the northern islands were agreed to in principle, and a basic agreement on the method for implementing free visits was made at the meeting of Japanese and Russian Foreign Ministers in May 1999.
The first visit of ex-islanders was carried out in September 1999 based on this agreement, and there are great expectations for future visits.




Graves in Kunashiri


Promotion of the adjoining (Nemuro) region

To facilitate the development of the Nemuro region adjoining the Northern Territories, the following measures are promoted:

1. Measures for promotion of the region adjoining the Northern Territories

   Public works and other activities are promoted in one city and four towns in the Nemuro district in accordance with the Sixth Plan Concerning the Promotion of the Regions Adjoining the Northern Territories and the Stabilization of the Lives of Local Citizens (five years from 2008 to 2012).

2. Project for the promotion of the region adjoining the Northern Territories

   Subsidies are provided from the interest income of the Fund for the Promotion of the Regions Adjoining the Northern Territories for projects conducted by one city and four towns in the Nemuro district, as well as for public awareness promotion and support projects conducted by related organizations.

Northern Four Islands Exchange Center of Hokkaido "NI・ HO・ RO"

       The Hokkaido Northern Island Exchange Center was opened on February 7, 2000 as a center for raising awareness concerning the Northern Territories issue, and for promotion of exchanges with Russians living on the northern islands. Management of the facility is commissioned to the City of Nemuro.
        Applications were invited from the public to decide on a nickname for the center (no. of applications: 1,124), and " Ni-Ho-Ro," which stands for Hokkaido (Ho) connecting Nippon (Ni) and Russia (Ro), was chosen.
        The Center has a variety of facilities, including a Russian Culture Room with displays and visual materials where people can learn about the Northern Territories issue (the explanation is available in Japanese, English and Russian) and Russian culture, a Japanese Culture Room where people can learn about Japanese culture, an observatory that commands a view of Kunashiri Island on fine days and an experimental kitchen where culinary exchanges can take place. The Center is open to the public.


Address: 110-9, Honioi, Nemuro, Hokkaido
Tel: 01532-3-6711
Fax: 01532-3-6713






Support for former residents

The Hokkaido government not only supports the activities of former resident organizations but also improves support measures for former residents in cooperation with these organizations.

1. Realization of compensation for the old fishing rights in the northern area

The compensation problem concerning the old fishing rights in the northern area has not been solved. Because the holders of the old fishing rights are aging, the national government is required to provide compensation as soon as possible in cooperation with the Committee to Promote Compensation for Lost Fishing Rights in the Northern Area.

2. Visits to graves in the Northern Territories

Visits to graves in the Northern Territories began in 1964 on humanitarian grounds. A total of 31 visits have been made to 52 graveyards, and the number of bereaved family members who participated in the visits have reached 2,932.
Visits to nine graveyards were carried out in 2008. Further requests will be made to the national government to allow bereaved families to visit graves in areas they wish to visit.

Results of visits to graves in the Northern Territories




2008


Location of graves
Dates
Members
 Bereaved 
Companion
  Total   
Shyakotan and Inemoshiri on Shikotan July 22 to 24
24
10
29
Shiyasuri and Shibetoro on Etorohu July 28 to 31
30
10
40

Akiajiba on Suisho , Otamoi on Akiyuritou , Tokoma on YurItou

August 22 to 24
30
15
45

Buni and Nikishiro on Kunashiri

September 12 to 14 25 10 35




Visiting a grave in the Northern Territories





Northern Territories Countermeasures Headquarters

Basic information about the Northern Territories - What are the Northern Territories?

History of the Northern Territories

The Hokkaido government's views on the Northern Territories issue

Photos of the Northern Territories

 

For comments or inquiries, contact:
ryodo.kikakuc@pref.hokkaido.lg.jp