Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Frankly, I was happy to read about Russian Presidents Medvedev’s hard and clear stand on the Kuril / Chishima Islands row (“Russia to boost disputed isles’ defenses,” February 11, 2011). I am sympathetic to Japan’s position, but only minimally. First, possession is nine tenths of the law. Russia has the islands, so there. Second, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara’s portrayal of the Chishima Islandsas an integral part of Japansounds like he is talking about geography, nothing else. Third, the complaint that Russia took the islands as a blatant and illegal land grab at the end of the Pacific War is only partly true. So, why else did Russia take and keep the islands? As deterrence, I think, because more than once Japan used those very same islands as a naval staging area for launching undeclared wars of aggression - something which Japan has demonstrated a propensity, or an appetite for. I am not mollified by Article 9 of the constitution because Japan continues to maintain one of the world’s largest and best equipped military forces - ranking number 22 in the world with more than 230,000 troops in uniform and bearing arms. Calling the Japanese army, navy and air forces “self defense” forces does not change the fact that they are, in reality, military forces. Saying otherwise is merely playing with words. Japanese have an historical precedent of replacing their usual docile nature with dangerous aggression rapidly and unpredictably. The quiet Zen gardens of Kyotoand the sight of fatigued and irate salarymen bursting into fistfights on the crowded train station platform are equally representative of Japan.
I could be wrong, but I am satisfied to see Russia keep the islets, and I am not the only one who quietly thinks so on this topic.