Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 175 (February 10, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
A century and a half ago on February 7, 1855, Japan and Russia signed the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation (also known as the Shimoda Treaty).
In December 1854, immediately before the signing of this treaty, Japan was struck by the Ansei Tokai and Nankai Earthquakes. While Hamaguchi Goryo had managed to save the people of his village in Wakayama from the tsunami that followed the earthquake by setting his rice field on fire, a story which I related in a previous issue, the destructive force of the tsunami was widespread, reaching the Izu Peninsula, where it also inflicted great damage, claiming the lives of 100 people.
During this time of disaster, a Russian man rescued those who had been caught and washed away in the tsunami and treated the injured in Shimoda. That person was Admiral Efimii Vasil'evich Putyatin who had traveled to Japan as the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Representative of Russia on a mission to negotiate a treaty of trade and commerce with Japan. The negotiations to conclude the treaty took place with Kawaji Toshiakira from the Japanese Shogunate.
The great tsunami did not spare Admiral Putyatin's flagship the Diana, which was anchored in Shimoda Bay at the time of the disaster and was gravely damaged. Following the tsunami, the Diana headed for the port of Heda in the west of Izu for repair, but sank in rough seas on the way. The crew members were rescued by the local people and Admiral Putyatin safely returned to Russia on a new ship built by the Japanese Shogunate. The Russian government was greatly appreciative of this gesture by the Japanese Shogunate.
Negotiations between the two countries went ahead despite the damage the earthquakes and tsunami had inflicted on Japan. These efforts led to the signing of the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation between Japan and Russia, opening the way for trade between the two countries. The treaty delineated the border between Japan and Russia as lying between Etorofu Island and Urup Island, stipulating the Four Northern Islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomai Islands as Japanese territory.
In Japan, February 7 is designated as "Northern Territories Day" and various events are conducted across the country each year.
I had planned to attend the National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories held in Kudan Kaikan on February 7, but could not as I was laid low with a cold.
I had been feeling a little under the weather since last week. If I left any of you concerned, let me reassure you that I have recovered and feel well again to tackle the mounting issues, both domestic and overseas, with verve and vigor.
* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.
- The 17th Meeting of the Council of Overseas Economic
Cooperation-Related Ministers (February 3, 2005)
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