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Threats Begin as Major Politician Claims Hokkaido Belongs to Russia

Sergey Mironov didn’t explain what he meant by the “lessons of World War II” but the insinuation was clear: Defy Russia and you will suffer.



Sergey Mironov, leader of the Russian party A Just Russia, in Moscow in September 2021 (Tass News Agency via Kyodo News)

On April 7, it was reported by TV Asahi that Sergey Mironov, leader of the political party A Just Russia, stated on his party’s website that “Russia has all rights to Hokkaido.”

Mironov is a major political figure who served as chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament for almost 10 years.

However outrageous his claim was, it didn’t come as a surprise.

On August 16, 1945, Russia’s predecessor the Soviet Union, under the name of Chairman Joseph Stalin of the State Defense Committee, demanded that U.nited States President Harry S. Truman include the northern half of the island of Hokkaido in the area to be surrendered by Japan to the Soviet forces. 

Thankfully, Truman refused — half of Hokkaido would have become Russian territory if he hadn’t.

On another occasion, Mironov stated, “I hope that Japanese politicians have not completely forgotten the lessons of World War II and the fate of the Kwantung Army.”

He didn’t explain what he meant by the “lessons of World War II” or “the fate of the Kwantung Army,” but the insinuation was clear: Defy Russia and you will suffer. 

[James Brown is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University]


On August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union violated the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact and invaded Manchuria, committing the most terrible atrocities including looting money and goods, assaulting women, and capturing young civilian men just to increase the numbers of POWs. 

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After Japan’s surrender, the Soviet Union abducted over 600,000 Japanese and placed them in forced labor. If there is any lesson to be learned from the war, it is that surrendering to the Russians will not guarantee peace or safety.

An aerial view of Japan's Northern Territories as seen from the northern part of Hokkaido.

More than 20 years ago, this author visited Kamchatka in the Russian Far East. A young Russian interpreter told me that he had been taught falsely that “the four southernmost Kuril Islands [in Japan’s Northern Territories] were stolen by Japan during the Russo-Japanese War.” He said he only found out that the Kuril Islands had been Japanese territory for 70 years when he came to Japan to study at Shinshu University.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also an information war with false information being launched from both sides. Information from neither side should be taken at face value, but at the very least, it is clear that Russia should not be trusted.


(Read the column in Japanese at this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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