The inhabitants of Iturup, which has always been a closed island

Since the cold war, the four Northern Islands has always been of special importance from a military point of view. On Iturup, the largest island of this chain, there is a military air base. On duty there were always the newest fighters. Iturup island were closed, which required a special permit from the authorities is not only to foreigners but even to Russians. In may 1990, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, by happy coincidence I was able to visit Iturup. I was the first journalist who visited the island after the Second world war. In bad weather conditions we landed on immersed in a fog the airport “Petrel”, which was full of armed guards. Close to the runway there were four MIG-29, TU, MI, and so on.

At that time in the USSR was raging economic crisis. The situation on Iturup was heavy because the consumer goods are not supplied, and the island could not provide. Perhaps the islanders were more interested in not Central government, who were in distant Moscow and did nothing, and economically developed and close to Japan. And at this moment came a journalist from Japan. I talked to the locals.

“The islanders are well aware of the fact that the USSR and Japan have a territorial problem. I myself believe that the territorial issue is a task that needs to be addressed” (the editor of the newspaper “Red lighthouse”).

“This is my personal opinion, but if it were not for the territorial problem, the Moscow authorities would have already done permanent infrastructure and would be more interested in the development of the island” (Chapter Kuril area of the driver).

An employee of the resort (on the island there were no hotels for foreigners), where I stopped, laughed: “If the island will return to Japan, I will break up with her drunkard husband and marry Japanese. A-ha-ha!”.

“Here is the grave of my father. Where my sons were born. This is our homeland. However I am not opposed to living together with the Japanese. I think we will not have any problems,” said 42-year-old fisherman.

Apparently, they had mixed feelings to the Japanese who came like the harbinger of the return of territories: it was kindness with a touch of fear.

Recalling the time, now it seems to me that while Japan dropped one chance in a million, to return the “Northern territories”. Nevertheless, in diplomatic parlance, at that time, the government of Japan elegantly ignored the problem. Since then 27 years have passed. Of a new chance.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin has held 16 meetings. The conversation tete-a-tete was not only in December last year in Yamaguchi Prefecture, where the parties spoke for 95 minutes. In may last year in Sochi, they talked for 38 minutes; in September of the same year, in Vladivostok — 55 minutes; in November in Peru — 35 minutes.

In may this year, Prime Minister Abe will visit Moscow. He also plans to go to Vladivostok in September. I really hope the implementation of the “secret agreement”, although I will follow the development of joint economic activities on the basis of the new approach, which the leaders of Japan and Russia agreed formally.