Japanese evicted by Soviet troops miss their island homes

Four islands are at the centre of a territorial dispute between Japan and Russia. Former residents, who are now aged 83 on average, are wondering if a resolution will ever be in sight and if they can ever freely return home.
A view of the town of Rausu from the Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck. The island of Kunashiri (Kunashir), one of four groups of islands administered by Russia and claimed by Japan, is located 25km across the strait from Rausu and can be seen in the
A view of the town of Rausu from the Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck. The island of Kunashiri (Kunashir), one of four groups of islands administered by Russia and claimed by Japan, is located 25km across the strait from Rausu and can be seen in the distance. ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM
A view of the town of Rausu from the Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck. The island of Kunashiri (Kunashir), one of four groups of islands administered by Russia and claimed by Japan, is located 25km across the strait from Rausu and can be seen in the
Mr Kimio Waki, former mayor of Rausu, pointing towards Kunashiri island, where he and his family lived until 1948, when Soviet troops evicted the residents after seizing the islands collectively known to the Japanese as the Northern Territories.ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM

Abe, Putin vow to speed up talks for peace treaty on disputed islands in eastern Hokkaido

From his living room in the coastal town of Rausu in eastern Hokkaido, Mr Kimio Waki gets a splendid view of the blue waters of the Shiretoko Peninsula - and a painful glimpse of the island he used to call home.

The 77-year-old, who was mayor of Rausu from 2003 to 2015, has been living in the town of 5,000 people since 1948. But he still recalls fondly life on the island of Kunashiri, which is 25km across the strait and visible on a clear day.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 18, 2018, with the headline 'Japanese evicted by Soviet troops miss their island homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe