2023 National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories

February 7, 2023
[Provisional translation]
On February 7, 2023, Prime Minister Kishida attended the 2023 National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories held in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Kishida said in his address,
"I would like to offer a few words on the occasion of the 2023 National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories.
I believe that it is truly significant that this rally is organized with participants gathering at the venue for the first time in three years on the Northern Territories Day today.
I express my heartfelt respect and appreciation to those present here, those watching the event online, and all those around the nation, who work in earnest every day toward the resolution of the Northern Territories issue.
It is extremely regrettable that we have not yet resolved the Northern Territories issue and concluded a peace treaty with Russia, even 77 years after the end of World War II.
The current Japan-Russia relations are facing difficult circumstances due to the Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. However, the Government adheres to its policy of resolving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty.
Last August, I listened in person to thoughts toward the Northern Territories from a group of junior high school students, who are third and fourth generation descendants of former inhabitants of the four islands and live in areas near the islands. I also directly received requests for early resumption of grave visits to the Northern Territories and other matters from mayors of municipalities near the territories in last December.
Mr. Waki, president of the League of Residents of Chishima and Habomai Islands, has just appealed earnestly for the resumption of at least grave visits to the four islands.
The restart of exchange programs involving the four islands, including grave visits to these islands, is one of the highest-priority issues in the future relations between the two countries, and I have strong expectations that the situation will become favorable for the resumption of the programs at the earliest date possible.
As former islanders are aging, we will strive to meet their wishes by all means.
The Northern Territories issue is one that concerns the entire nation. It is essential for each and every citizen to increase awareness and understanding of the issue, and the Government and people must work together to tackle it, all the more because of the present situation.
In closing, once again, I sincerely ask the people for their strong support and backing. Thank you."

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