The Soviets have not changed their attitude at all and insist that President Yeltsin expressed the word of apology at the emperor’s banquet in the palace when he visited Japan in 2003. In regards to the compensation for the wages, they are firm about not dealing with it based on the regulation on the abandonment of the right of request at the sixth item in Soviet-Japan Joint Declaration announced on December 12th, 1956.
The representatives of the Japan Association of Forced Internees have been hosting Japan-Soviet symposium in Moscow every early autumn since 1994. At that time, we have been visiting various ministries and government offices such as Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Home Affairs, Ministries of Military Affairs, National, National Library of Military Affairs) in order to exchange opinions.
In regards to the compensation of wages, Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 defined the abandonment of the mutual claim rights. However, it was a joint declaration and not a peace treaty.
The ninth item of the Joint Declaration is only defining that “We agree to hand over Habomai and Shikotan Islands to Japan after the peace treaty is executed.” It does not have any reference to Kunashiri Island and Etrofu Islands in other words. However, the Japanese government has been consistently asking the return of all of the four islands at the same time. The interpretation of the Japanese government is that the reason why nothing is mentioned about Kunashiri and Etrofu Islands is because the negotiation is still continuing. However, the fact is that Soviets and Russia have always been only considering only two islands as objects for the return.
Since the interpretation of the two countries are different, my interpretation is that Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration is a declaration and the Peace Treaty should have different aspects.
However, the authorities of this office work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the same attitude as theRussian side, indicating compensation for wages can not be demanded because of the clarification in the declaration. However, they note that they will not interfere with any personal or group efforts of the former internees directly to Russian government. In my opinion, it is completely strange that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains the attitude of having nothing to do with issues like this. Therefore, I have a strong hope that this topic will be picked up at the time of the leadership conference between Japan and Russia.
I have the impression that our government is making serious efforts in regards to the problem of abduction in North Korea. If so, us former internees in the Soviet Union were also the victims of abduction by the Soviets. Because of this reason, I strongly hope our government to continue long-term serious negotiations with the Russian government.