The Prime Minister Attends the 2012 National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda attended the 2012 National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories, held in Tokyo.
The National Rally is held every year in Tokyo on February 7, which is Northern Territories Day, as an event for government officials and private organizations campaigning for the return of the territories to gather at a single venue to call for further and broader development of the national movement for the return of the Northern Territories, and to express a strong resolve to demand the early return of the Northern Territories to the people both inside and outside Japan.
The Prime Minister said in his address, "The Northern Territories issue is an issue of crucial importance to Japan's foreign affairs. During the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting in November last year, held on the occasion of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, Honolulu, I reconfirmed with President Dmitry Medvedev the necessity of resolving this issue, and we agreed to continue discussions, expressing respect toward each other.
A new government will be inaugurated this May in Russia. Given the changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the Japan-Russia relationship is taking on new significance. In that context, I will continue my tenacious efforts to advance negotiations with Russia with a strong determination, in line with the Government's basic position of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty, based on the agreements and documents hitherto signed between Japan and Russia as well as the principles of law and justice.
Already 66 years have passed without seeing the resolution of the Northern Territories issue, which is truly regrettable. The former islanders are aging, and I should also be aware that it is a race against time.
The Northern Territories issue concerns the entire nation. To push the negotiations forward, it is necessary that the Government and the people of Japan unite their efforts. I will close my address with a wish that the campaign for the return of the Northern Territories would continue to be promoted, more robustly than ever, as a nation-wide campaign."