Ex-Resident of Disputed Islet Wishes for Ukraine's Return to Normal


Kawasaki, Kanagawa Pref., Feb. 10 (Jiji Press)--A former Japanese resident of a Russian-controlled islet in the northwestern Pacific has expressed sympathy for Ukrainians, ahead of the first anniversary Feb. 24 of the start of Russia's invasion Ukraine, and voiced hope that they will get back to their normal lives soon.

Susumu Seida, 83, was born on Shibotsu, the biggest of the Habomai group of islets, part of the four islands at the center of Japan's long-standing territorial dispute with Moscow.

Seida, who now lives in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, said in an interview that Shibotsu hosted some 2,200 residents before World War II and was rich in marine resources, such as kelp, sea urchins and scallops. He had helped dry kelp, and residents had lived a rich life by shipping dried kelp to the rest of Japan, Seida recalled.

The situation changed suddenly in August 1945. The Soviet Union joined the war on Japan on Aug. 9 that year, unilaterally revoking the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, which was signed in April 1941. It continued attacks even after Japan's Aug. 14, 1945, acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration for its surrender in the war and seized the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan, and the Habomais, collectively known in Japan as the Northern Territories, from the Asian nation between Aug. 28 and Sept. 5.

After hearing that Soviet troops were about to attack, Seida and his seven family members left for the Nemuro Peninsula in Hokkaido in northern Japan, close to the disputed islands, aboard a small wooden boat used for collecting kelp on one night in late August 1945.

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