Groups demanding the return of the Northern Territories, including the Liaison Council for Movements Demanding Return of the Northern Territories, to which RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) belongs, held the National Convention to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories in Tokyo on February 7. The Convention was attended by about 1,500 people, including former islanders who lost their homes when the former Soviet Union occupied the territories in 1945, government officials, Diet members, and 160 trade union members from RENGO.
The Convention is held every year on February 7, which the Japanese government has designated as "Northern Territories Day," with the aim of deepening people's understanding of and interest in the Northern Territories issue, arousing public opinion, and realizing their early return to Japan.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said with determination, "We will continue negotiations tenaciously in order to finally solve the problem of the return of the Northern Territories and conclude a peace treaty."
RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo commented, "While cooperating with the current administration, RENGO will lobby the government and Diet members for settlement of the Northern Territories issue. At the same time, we will actively participate in the non-visa mutual exchange program, which is in its twentieth year, and strive to build an environment for territorial negotiations. Furthermore, in order to prove that Japanese lived there, we will make positive efforts toward the reconstruction and preservation of Japanese buildings [post office, etc.] remaining on Etorofu."
As part of its activities to promote peace, with the aim of realizing the early return of the Northern Territories and the conclusion of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia, RENGO, among other things, (1) participates in marches held in the metropolitan Tokyo region to demand the return of the Northern Territories with the aim of arousing public opinion, (2) holds a the RENGO Peace Rally in Nemuro, Hokkaido, and (3) takes part in the non-visa exchange program (every other year) aimed at promoting mutual understanding between Japanese and the Russians living on the islands. From now on also, RENGO will continue its efforts toward settlement of the Northern Territories issue from the standpoint of trade unions.