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

Japanese opposition calls for resignation of MP who suggested war with Russia over Kurils
Japanese lawmakers are determined to chase a fellow MP out of parliament after he suggested Tokyo could wage war on Russia over the Kuril Islands.

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

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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 Russians for the remarks.

Maruyama was also urged to give up his parliament seat, which he refused to do. Today six opposition parties submitted a resolution to the lower house officially calling for the MP’s resignation.

The territorial dispute over the South Kuril Islands has been one of the major stumbling blocks in Russian-Japanese relations since the end of World War II, with 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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