INTRODUCTION: The Japanese government has provoked angry protests from Moscow by launching demonstrations demanding the return of four of Japan's strategic northern islands.
AERIAL VIEW Soviet patrol ship.
SV Soviet patrol ship.
SV Harbour at Hokkaido island.
SV People flying kites with slogans on island. (2 SHOTS)
AERIAL VIEW Nemuro City.
(SOUND) SV Demonstrators in Tokyo street.
SV Speaker addresses rally, flag showing islands in background. (2 shots)
SV Riot police marching down street.
SV INTERIOR Conference room with audience listening to Suzuki speaking. (4 SHOTS)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The Japanese government has provoked angry protests from Moscow by launching demonstrations demanding the return of four of Japan's strategic northern islands. The islands in the Kurile chain, north of Hokkaido, have been occupied by the Soviet Union since the end of World War Two.
A Soviet warship was filmed on Saturday (7 February) as it patrolled the waters near the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Habomai and Shikotan. Soviet troops invaded the islands during the closing days of the war and Moscow claims they are an integral part of the Soviet Union. Japan's government has launched a seven-day campaign for the return of the islands. These kites are carrying protest slogans in Nemuro city in Hokkaido, where some 16,000 Japanese settled after the Soviet occupation.
The dispute has clouded relations between the two countries for 35 years. And it hasn't helped the Soviet Union to enter into a treaty of peace and friendship with the Japanese. A Soviet general said on Monday (9 February) that the Soviet Union was ready to face Japan on a military basis if Tokyo tried to settle the issue by force.
Japanese Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki told politicians in Tokyo on Saturday (7 February) he wanted a peaceful solution to the problem and improved ties with the Soviet Union.
While Mr. Suzuki was speaking, about 2,000 members of militant right-wing groups were holding demonstrations throughout the country. Soviet diplomats in Tokyo say they won't discuss the dispute while the Americans maintain military bases in Japan. Meanwhile, the Japanese Defence Agency claims the Soviet Union's using the islands to build up their armed forces within Japan's territorial waters.