- Title: Hundreds rally in Tokyo calling for return of northern territories
- Date: 1st December 2016
- Summary: AT SEA NEAR DISPUTED ISLAND SHIKOTAN, JAPAN/SHPANBERG, RUSSIA (FILE - 2015) (REUTERS) VIEW OF DISPUTED ISLAND CALLED SHIKOTAN IN JAPAN AND SHPANBERG IN RUSSIA, FROM FERRY BUILDINGS ON SHIKOTAN OR SHPANBERG ISLAND A CHURCH ON A HILL AT SEA NEAR DISPUTED ISLAND ETOROFU, JAPAN/ITURUP, RUSSIA (FILE - 2015) (REUTERS) VARIOUS VIEWS OF DISPUTED ISLAND CALLED ETOROFU IN JAPAN OR ITURUP IN RUSSIA, FROM FERRY BUILDINGS ON THE DISPUTED ISLAND KUNASHIR ISLAND, JAPAN/KUNASHIRI ISLAND, RUSSIA (FILE - 2015) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SHIPWRECK ON BEACH
- Embargoed: 16th December 2016 05:24
- Keywords: Japan protest disputed islands Russia
- Location: TOKYO, AT SEA/ KUNASHIRI ISLAND, JAPAN / KUNASHIR ISLAND, RUSSIA
- City: TOKYO, AT SEA/ KUNASHIRI ISLAND, JAPAN / KUNASHIR ISLAND, RUSSIA
- Country: Japan
- Reuters ID: LVA0025B1X7B9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds of people, including former residents of disputed islands claimed by both Japan and Russia, rallied in downtown Tokyo on Thursday (December 1), calling for the return of the islands to Japan.
The rally came as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to hold a bilateral meeting in Yamaguchi prefecture, Abe's hometown, on December 15.
Some participants say they have big hopes for the meeting, saying it may be the last chance to get back their 'home' from Russia.
"I'll march while I pray that Putin's visit will take things forward," former Zelyoni or Shibotsu island resident Yoshikatsu Kimura said. The Zelyoni or Shibotsu island is part of the Kuril Islands group.
The disputed islands, called the southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, was seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of World War II, which kept Tokyo and Moscow from signing a peace treaty to formally end the war.
"We've waited 70 years now, so if there aren't any progress made through this bilateral, former island residents and Nemuro residents don't have much time left. I came here because I really want them to do something about it," 57-year-old Satoshi Yoneya, who was born and raised in Nemuro, a city in Japan's northern island Hokkaido, which is very active in calling for the return of the islands. Yoneya's mother was from the Yuri or Iurii island, as it is known in Russia.
Abe, who sees improved ties with Moscow as a counter-balance to a rising China, hopes the lure of economic cooperation will help ease a breakthrough when he meets Putin, given the hit to Russia's economy from sluggish oil prices and Western sanctions imposed after its annexation of Crimea.
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