Japanese opposition calls for resignation of MP who suggested war with Russia over Kurils

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Japanese legislators are preparing a resolution calling for the expulsion from the lower house of the National Diet of a lawmaker who suggested war was a way for Japan to take the Kuril Islands from Russia.

Hodaka Maruyama MP horrified many in Japanese political circles during his visit to the Kurils earlier this month, when he asked a former Japanese resident of one of the islands if he thought “the Northern territories” – as the islands are known in Japan – “could only be taken back by means of war.”

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The lawmaker later apologized, claiming he was drunk. But his party – the Nippon Ishin Japan Innovation Party – the third largest opposition force in parliament, took matters into their own hands. They expelled the politician, while the party leader apologized to Russia for his remarks.

Maruyama was also urged to give up his Diet seat, which he refused to do. Now, Japanese legislators are preparing a resolution to make the legislator resign.

The territorial dispute over the South Kuril Islands has been one of the major stumbling blocks in Russian-Japanese relations since World War II, resulting in the two countries still lacking a formal peace treaty. The islands were handed over to the USSR under the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, but since then Tokyo has been trying to reclaim them.

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