Russia Returns Disputed Islands
In a stunning move, Russia announced today that it would be returning four islands it seized from Japan immediately shortly after the end of World War II in 1945.
The then Soviet Union occupied what was Japanese territory after Tokyo surrendered to US forces in what is still regarded in Japan as the height of treachery. Negotiations have not made any progress since 1956.
The Soviet Union and later Russia have administered the disputed southern Kuril Islands for more than six decades. The islands are one of the main reasons most Japanese to this day despise Russia.
In a terse statement, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, however, said that "returning the islands was the right thing to do" as he signed over sovereignty to Japan.
With a flick of the pen, he thus ended more than a half century of acrimony.
Chinese Students Stone Japanese Embassy Again
Japan's Air Force has been accused of seeding clouds in the Beijing area that resulted in heavy rains in recent days. Chinese students have responded by gathering en masse at the Japanese embassy in the Chaoyang District.
Beijing normally sees little spring precipitation and its sewer and drainage system is notoriously wanting. In the past two days, however, 44 cm of rain have fallen in the capital - and officials are pointing a finger at Japan.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang said at a hastily called press conference that "there could be no other source [for the rain]. This is an insidious attempt at flooding our streets and dampening our economy."
Students gathered later that day in front of the Embassy, and pelted it with rocks and burned a Japanese flag as police watched passively.
In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Aso responded that if Chinese authorities fixed the windows - and all of the damage from the previous six stonings of the building - Japan would formally apologize for all of its World War II atrocities.
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009