The recent decision by Moscow to rename its Day of Military Glory as the ‘Day of Victory over Militaristic Japan’ and the End of World War II has sparked regret and concern from Japan. Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese Foreign Minister, expressed his disappointment over Russia’s decision and hoped that it would not lead to emotional confrontation between the two countries.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Hayashi stated that Japan had already made representations to Russia regarding this matter. He also mentioned that a series of events were being planned for the Northern Territories and various places in Russia on September 3, but as a member of the Japanese government, he would not comment on them.
It is worth noting that Japan refers to parts of Russia’s Kuril Islands as the Northern Territories, claiming that they have been occupied by Moscow since the end of World War II. This territorial dispute has been a longstanding issue between the two countries.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed a law in late June to rename the Day of Military Glory, which is celebrated on September 3, as the Day of Victory over Militaristic Japan and the End of World War II.
Hayashi’s comments on Friday echoed those made previously by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who described Russia’s move as “extremely regrettable.” Matsuno also warned that it could stir anti-Japanese sentiment among the Russian people and lead to anti-Russian sentiment among the Japanese people.
The peace treaty between Russia and Japan has been an unresolved issue since World War II, and officially, the two countries have remained at war for almost eight decades. The main obstacle to reaching a settlement is Japan’s claim to four of the islands in the Kuril Archipelago. These islands were captured by the Soviet Union during the war. Although Japan relinquished its claims to the Kurils in the 1951 San Francisco Treaty, it later claimed that those islands were never a part of the archipelago.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has reiterated its stance that the subject of a peace treaty with Japan has been closed. Moscow attributes this to Japan’s unfriendly stance, including its support for Ukraine in the conflict with Russia and its participation in Western sanctions against the country. As a result, further negotiations have been deemed impossible.
This ongoing territorial dispute and the recent renaming of the holiday have further strained relations between Russia and Japan. It remains to be seen how this issue will play out in the coming months and whether it will have any lasting impact on the already complicated relationship between the two countries.