Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The DPJ Shouldn't Cooperate in Northern Territories Debate

I don't know what upper house member Naoki Minezaki's intentions were when he jumped into the "3.5 island" debate about the Northern Territories, but it's not easy to agree with the Democratic Party of Japan's choice to force itself into the debate.

To preserve our peace treaty with Russia, we need to solve the Northern Territories issue. In 1956 when then Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama visited the Soviet Union, both countries (the Japanese government and the Soviet government) agreed on the idea that two islands should be returned. After that, the US exerted its influence to prop up a faction in favor of demanding the return of all four islands, a stance that eventually gained a majority and continues to reign today. Japan has stuck to that stance without budging an inch since then. There's no way to bring about a permanent peace between the two countries with the current status quo. The governments of both countries should find a compromise to further peace treaty negotiations. The Japanese government should take a flexible stance. The 3.5 island theory may have come about in an attempt to offer that flexibility.

However, the mass media and certain politicians are taking a very hard line on this issue. I would like to see at least the DPJ keep a flexible and open attitude.

Political change is near. A DPJ administration is right in front of us. An inflexible approach brings about 100 harms without one single benefit. If there is a new Hatoyama administration, the extension of a peace treaty with Russia becomes an important diplomatic issue. We'll need his initiative to bring about that extended peace. We don't need any foolishness that hems him in and limits our options.