Courtesy Call from Young Descendants of Former Inhabitants of the Northern Territories of Japan

July 28, 2023
[Provisional translation]

On July 28, 2023, Prime Minister Kishida received a courtesy call from a group of junior high school students, who are third and fourth generation or other descendants of former inhabitants of the Northern Territories of Japan, at the Prime Minister’s Office.
After seven of the students spoke about their thoughts toward the Northern Territories, Prime Minister Kishida said,
“First of all, I would like to express my appreciation for your visit today. I have just listened directly to what you all have to say as young people carrying on the feelings and thoughts of their great-grandfathers, great-grandmothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers who are former inhabitants of the Northern Territories. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.
Although as long as more than 75 years have passed since the end of World War II, we have not been able to conclude a peace treaty between Japan and Russia yet. And as you just mentioned, the current Japan-Russia relations are facing very difficult circumstances due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Despite this background, however, Japan remains unchanged in its stance and policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the four islands and concluding a peace treaty.
The restart of exchange programs involving the four islands, including grave visits to these islands, is one of the highest-priority issues in the Japan-Russia relations. We will continue to consider Japan’s relations with Russia, with a focus on grave visits to the four islands, and urge the Russian side to resume the programs.
I believe that the Northern Territories issue is one that concerns the entire nation. While it is of course important for the Government to work as one toward the resolution of the issue, what matters after all is to help many Japanese people to understand the feelings of a number of former inhabitants that you shared with me today. The Government intends to continue striving to raise awareness of and provide information for the public. At the same time, the important thing is that young people, including you all who came here today, will maintain an interest in and actively communicate their ideas on this issue. In this regard, I have high expectations for your active role in the future and would appreciate your cooperation. Thank you very much.”


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