Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is in Tokyo. He arrived on the 11th and will leave on the 13th. Tokyo’s Nagatacho area, the political heart of the country, and surrounding areas such as Akasaka and Kojimachi, were bristling with security, the roads accessing Nagatacho with fences drawn half across them, manned by riot police.
Although Putin arrived on the 11th, Japan’s extreme right wing was out in force on the morning of the 12th in numerous sound trucks, vans, and buses, that broadcast shrieks and hollers of political indignation, and Colonel Blimp-style brass band music, at such a volume that the shouting itself was sometimes drowned in its own shrill feedback.
The focus of Japanese right wing fury today was the Kuril Islands just north of the northern large island of Hokkaido. Only 1,300 km lies between the tip of Hokkaido and Russia – not even 90 minutes on a Boeing 747 – and for all of that short flight, if you looked out the window you would see islands all the way.
Before the Second World War, Russia and Japan met roughly in the middle of that string of islands, but Russia occupied them all at the end of the war, a move which has prevented the signing of a post-WWII peace treaty between the two countries.
The trucks, buses, vans, and placards of today’s right wingers were therefore all emblazoned with a map of the Kurils and the slogan “Return the northern territories!”
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009