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.

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Foundation Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Nursery Teacher position in Devon Dev...

Primary Teacher

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: ***KS1 & KS2 Teachers ...

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week