Russia Invites Foreign Partners To Develop Occupied Japanese Islands
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Moscow has signaled that it is looking for “foreign partners” to develop Russian-occupied Japanese Islands while pressuring Tokyo to better make a quick decision if it wants a cut of the deal, including fishing rights in the waters around the disputed “South Kuril Islands” as Moscow designates them.
Russia has occupied the Japanese islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shitokan and the Habomai Archipelago since WW II. The region is officially designated as a “disputed territory”. The annexation of territories has been outlawed ever since the establishment of the failed League of Nations and it is outlawed by the UN.
In 2015 Moscow and Tokyo renewed the diplomatic row when Tokyo protested Russia’s de facto annexation of the region by including it in regional social, industrial and infrastructure developments. It is noteworthy that Russia, as any other of the five permanent UN Security Council members has a special obligation with regard to adhering to international law. Making matters worse is that Moscow is dragging its feet with regard to a peace treaty with Japan, and the fact that the UN Charter, despite a UN General Assembly resolution to the contrary, still designates Italy, Germany and Japan as “enemy States” to the UN. Effectively this means any full UN member State can launch a “preemptive attack or occupation” without a declaration of war.
Commenting on developments in the region, Russia’s Far Eastern Region Envoy Yuri Trutnev announced that the invitation of foreign partners was part of a larger plan to develop a huge territory, rich in resources but poorly developed and lacking infrastructure from roads and labor to communications. Moscow has, among others, proposed a farming project together with China.
Speaking at the sidelines of the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev pressured Tokyo further by telling the press:
“Russia wants to develop the Kuriles at a brisk pace. … The conditions are ideal there for fishing and fish farming. So we are inviting Japanese companies, and are ready to give them priority in joint ventures. … But if they turn it down – we will find others who are willing to work with us. And I know that it can be of great interest to other foreign investors.”
Japan has previously rejected such offers as it considers Iturup, Kunashir, Shitokan and the Habomai Archipelago, in accordance with international law, as Japanese, Russian occupied and disputed territory. Tokyo stresses that the current Russian “projects” are one further step toward an illegal, de facto annexation, and that Russia’s most recent “offer” about partnerships and fishing rights amounts to blackmail and the abuse of Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
CH/ L – nsnbc 28.01.2016