2024 National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories
On February 7, 2024, Prime Minister Kishida attended the 2024 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 2024 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 just like last year 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 78 years after the end of World War II.
The Japan-Russia relations are facing difficult circumstances due to the Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. However, the Government will firmly maintain its policy of resolving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty.
Last June, I received requests, especially for early resumption of grave visits to the Northern Territories, from President Matsumoto of the League of Residents of Chishima and Habomai Islands. In the following month, I directly heard 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, that they will carry on the desire to settle the Northern Territories issue and continue the momentum going forward.
The restart of exchange programs involving the four islands, including grave visits to these islands, is one of the highest-priority issues in the relations between the two countries. With a strong determination to meet the earnest wishes of aging former islanders by all means, we will continue to call on the Russian side to resume the programs, with a particular focus on the grave visits to the islands for now.
The Northern Territories issue is one that concerns the entire nation. It is essential for each and every citizen to enhance awareness and understanding of the issue, and the Government and people must work together as one. At the same time, it is also important for Japan to make its position understood properly by the international community.
The Government, on its part, will strive to continue efforts, such as raising awareness among the public. I conclude my remarks by reiterating my sincere request to the people for their strong support and backing.”