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The Northern Territories Issue Association (incorporated administrative agency) was established to promote the resolution of the Northern Territories issue and other issues relating to the Northern Regions (referring to the Habomai Islands, Shikotan Island, Kunashiri Island and Etorofu Island) by raising public awareness, conducting research and studies on these issues, and helping those who lived in the Northern Regions, and to ensure the stability of business management and the lives of former Northern Regions fishing rights holders and others concerned by providing them with funding necessary for their businesses and lives based on the Act on Special Measures for Persons Who Held Fishing Rights in the Northern Regions.
The land of the Northern Territories has been inherited by Japanese people for generations, and those territories are inherent parts of Japanese territory from the perspectives of history and international law. However, shortly after the end of the war, the Soviet army occupied the Northern Territories without legal grounds, and the islanders were ousted. This situation has continued even since the Soviet Union collapsed to become Russia.
After the war, Japan has been persistently negotiating with Russia under a consistent basic policy of resolving the Northern Territories issue and concluding a peace treaty. However, this issue has not been resolved, even though more than 70 years have passed since the war.
The resolution of the Northern Territories issue is the biggest concern between Japan and Russia. To improve relations between Russia and Japan, it is necessary to realize the return of the Northern Territories, to resolve this issue promptly, and to conclude a peace treaty. To this end, it is important that the public have an accurate understanding of the issue.
The Association promotes the Campaign for the Return of the Northern Territories as part of its efforts to raise public awareness and supports prefectural councils for the irredentist movement that have been established throughout Japan and other private organizations involved in that movement. Some activities conducted by these organizations, such as petition campaigns and various competitions, are open to the general public. We invite you to take part.
The Association actively promotes projects with people from throughout the country in order to raise public awareness—promotion that supports the government's diplomatic negotiations. In addition, until the territorial issue can be settled, the Association will promote mutual understanding between Japan and Russia through the passport-free/visa-free exchange program between Russians living on the four northern islands and former islanders, irredentists, and experts. The program was established based on an agreement between Russia and Japan. I'd like to conclude my remarks by asking for the continued support and cooperation of all concerned, including the general public.