Thursday, August 17, 2006

Remember This Unresolved Border Dispute?


Russian coastguards patrolling a disputed chain of islands shot dead a Japanese fisherman yesterday, in the contested territory’s first fatal incident for half a century. Mitsuhiro Morita, 25, from the far-northern town of Nemuro, was shot through the head as he was hunting for crabs in the Habomai islets, which are claimed by Japan but occupied by Russia. His death was condemned by the Japanese Government, who demanded an apology, compensation, and the return of three other detained fishermen and their boat.

The Khabomai islands are part of the Kuriles, an archipelago off Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido which was seized by the Soviet Union three days after the Japanese surrender in August 1945. Japan has vainly asserted its ownership of the islands ever since, and as a consequence of the deadlock over the dispute, the two countries have never concluded a peace treaty.

“Our country can never tolerate a Japanese fishing boat being captured and fired on by a Russian patrol boat in waters belonging to our four Northern Territories, which are integral parts of our country,” Chikahito Harada, of the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry, told Mikhail Galuzin, the Russian Chargé d’Affaires in Tokyo.

So, other countries have border disputes and act with violence, not only Israel. I wonder if the UN, EU, et al. will condemn this.

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