Russian lease of island angers Japan

STILL smarting from Boris Yeltsin's cancellation of his visit to Tokyo last week because of the impasse over the disputed Kurile Islands, the Japanese government has been further enraged by reports of a Hong Kong-based company being awarded a 50-year lease on part of one of the islands.

The government spokesman, Kocihi Kato, yesterday said an official protest had been made to Moscow over the lease, which covers around 700 acres on the small island of Shikotan.

Most embarrassing of all is the fact that a Japanese national appears to be one of the main businessmen behind the deal. The lease agreeement between Carlson & Kaplan Co in Hong Kong and the Sakhalin provincial authorities who administer the Kuriles is supposed to be for the building of a casino and hotel complex. But the Japanese government suspects it was an attempt at property speculation in advance of the possible return of the islands to Japan.

'Japan cannnot condone a contract between Russia and a third party that treats Moscow's illegal occupation of the Northern Islands (Japan's term for the Kuriles) as an accomplished fact,' Mr Kato told a press conference. He desribed the contract as 'impermissible'.

Japan claims the four southernmost Kurile islands, which were occupied by Soviet troops at the end of the last war, to be traditional Japanese territory. But the Kurile dispute, which up to recently Tokyo thought could be solved easily in the aftermath of the Cold War, has now turned into a diplomatic nightmare for the Japanese government.

Tokyo's tough stance with Moscow appears to have backfired, pushing a final resolution of the dispute further into the future. And it has highlighted Japan as the only leading developed nation refusing to consider substantial economic aid to Russia.

It has also soured the air for other Japanese diplomatic initiatives. Tokyo is to host a conference on aid to the former Soviet republics at the end of next month. Originally Japan intended to take up a proposal to help Russia dispose of its nuclear weapons materials. But now a Japanese official has said sulkily that Tokyo is 'in no mood to call for international co-operation on the peaceful use of Russian nuclear materials' at the conference.

The Hong Kong-based firm that signed the lease agreement is a shell company, and the Japanese Foreign Ministry was horrified when it emerged that one of the firm's executives was a Taiwanese man who became a Japanese citizen in 1972. Tokyo has discouraged Japanese business from investing in Russia, particularly in the Kuriles, until Moscow agrees to give the islands back.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Data Administrator

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of this mu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - £40,000 - £70,000 OTE

£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: (Senior) IT Business Analyst - London - European projects

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness