New maps – old claims

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Jul 24, 2019
Japanese territorial claims over the Kuril Islands switched from claims to cartographic aggression. From now all negotiations on this issue between Russia and Japan are held with doors closed. But the lack of publicity of this issue, in the opinion of the Japanese side, is not a reason for rejecting it.

First, a video was published on the official G-20 website, in which the Kuril Islands were pointed as a part of Japan. In a month later, the Japanese Olympic Committee published an official interactive map of the Summer Games, on which four Russian islands of the Southern Kuril Islands were assigned to Japan. This is about the islands of Shikotan, Kunashir, Iturup and Habomai, the sovereignty of which Japan has vainly disputed for more than a decade. These islands were attributed by the Japanese side to Hokkaido Prefecture.

The so-called cartographic aggression is one of the most popular measures of impact on the world society consciousness. It does not require using of special knowledge, recourses or financial investments. Painting foreign territories in the color of your country on a map and place it in suitable places is enough. Unlike handwritten products, there is no need to read them: bright, colorful pseudo-maps are a universal way of propaganda. It is no accident that the Japanese government chose exactly this way of influence at the younger generation of their country. "As for the Japanese territories, it is important to deepen knowledge on the basis of the correct information from the childhood. I like that the textbooks have expanded formulations", said Tokai University professor Yoshihiko Yamada. A guide to the new study course with detailed photographs and maps of the "northern territories" that was published in the spring of 2019, states that the Kuril Islands are originally Japanese territories. If earlier such statements were found in high school textbooks, now the changes have affected the primary school.

Such maps from time to time appear also in Russia. One of the recent cases was related to the distribution in the Sakhalin Region of stationery sets with the Mitsui company logos. Mitsui Corporation is a member of the Sakhalin-2 offshore oil and gas project. It owns a 12.5% stake in "Sakhalin Energy" company, which is the project operator. On geographical maps from these sets, the Kuril Islands were also pointed as a part of Japan.

According to official statement of the Russian side, such activities undermine the mutual cooperation between the two countries. "We believe that such actions are unjustified. In addition to the legal side, there is also the issue of creating an atmosphere for solving of complicated issues between the two countries. Such actions clearly do not help for creation of such an atmosphere, but I can definitely say that it is poisoning", said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.