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Ex-prime minister Hatoyama defends referendum in Crimea as constitutional

Kyodo

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, visiting Crimea against Tokyo’s wishes, held talks Wednesday with leader Sergey Aksyonov in Simferopol, the peninsula’s main city, and said Japan should lift its sanctions against Russia.

According to media reports, Hatoyama expressed his view at the talks that Japan should “normalize” relations with Russia by lifting sanctions imposed for Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory — an act Japan does not recognize.

Hatoyama also reportedly said the Japanese government should wake up from its dream-like state and squarely face reality.

Hatoyama also told Russian media Thursday that he would not rule out accepting a proposal made Wednesday by the Russian presidential envoy to Crimea, Yuri Belaventsev, to move to the peninsula — should Japan deprive him of his passport.

“If such a danger emerges, I cannot rule out that I will accept Mr. Belaventsev’s proposal,” Hatoyama was quoted as saying by Tass news agency. “I am grateful for it.”

In Tokyo on Thursday, his brother Kunio Hatoyama, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, said in a television program the former prime minister should have been deprived of his passport.

Meanwhile, Aksyonov slammed Japan’s sanctions against Russia and said he believes a politician like Hatoyama is needed to overcome the status quo, marked by Russia’s deteriorating economy, according to the reports.

Earlier in the day, Hatoyama said a controversial referendum last March that found a majority on the Crimean peninsula were in favor of joining Russia was in line with Ukraine’s Constitution.

Hatoyama told a news conference in Simferopol that the referendum was held peacefully and democratically in accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

His remarks, widely seen as supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, is likely to draw fire because Japan does not recognize the outcome of the vote.

Japan and other Group of Seven nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States — condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March, calling the action a “violation of international law.”

In the city of Yalta, Hatoyama told city officials that the referendum resolved the territorial issue with Russia, and that it was one of the most significant events in history, according to local news agency Kryminform.

The Japanese government had urged Hatoyama not to visit Crimea, saying that the act of a former prime minister conducting a trip requiring a Russian visa could contradict Tokyo’s stance that Moscow unilaterally annexed the territory in violation of international law.

In Tokyo, the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party condemned Hatoyama’s trip. Hatoyama was prime minister from September 2009 to June 2010, when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power for the first time.

“As a politician who experienced the post of prime minister, it was much too hasty an act. It is extremely regrettable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference about Hatoyama’s Tuesday visit to the Black Sea peninsula. “We would like to criticize him severely.”

LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura said the trip is “regrettable because it is incompatible with the Japanese position that it will never recognize any attempt to change the status quo by force.”

The visit “will give rise to misunderstanding in the international community,” Komura told reporters.

  • zer0_0zor0

    Good job!
    Put the neocons in their place—> OUT!

  • Jeffrey

    How rare – a Japanese politician on the wrong side of history.

  • Jason Taverner

    The poster boy for the disaster of nepotism in Japanese politics strikes again, embarrassing himself and his country.

  • SabineRiver

    Good for Hatoyama! Now that he is retired he can tell the truth — the emperor has no clothes.

    It is an uncontestable fact that the vast majority of Crimeans supported the return to Russia Likewise those who criticize Hatoyama have NO facts to use. All they can do is parrot their real imperial master in Washington. They claim it violates “international law” — without details or proof. But the hypocrites who claim this never make the claim against their US master — the worlds’s number one law breaker.

    What a joke! Once proud and independent Japan reduced to the role of lapdog!

  • Alonso Schneeweiss

    Sounds logical to me. And didn’t the West recognize Kosovo’s secession from Serbia? How is this any different?

  • Scott Reynolds

    I think Hatoyama is on to something here. When a nation has a dispute with Russia because the Russians have occupied some of their territory in a military act of aggression, just hold a referendum of the inhabitants of the occupied region to ask them if they want to join Russia. When they vote “yes” (as they naturally will if they know what’s good for them), Russia annexes the territory and the dispute is resolved. Brilliant!
    We can therefore expect Hatoyama to call for a referendum of the inhabitants of the southern Kuril islands as soon as he returns to Japan. What a statesman! In a stroke he will have solved a diplomatic dispute that has simmered for 70 years.

    This principle could be extended to disputes like Takeshima as well. There are about a dozen people living there, right? (Only two permanent residents, though.)
    Sadly, this method of resolving disputes will not work for the Senkakus, unless we ask the goats to vote in a referendum…

  • Edward

    Timely indeed. Very timely.

  • DC Musicfreak

    Nutjob goes fawning to some of the only people on earth who will listen to him.

  • JSS00

    The US funded neo-Nazis to organize a coup in Ukraine. Since the majority of the population in Crimea are ethnic Russians, I believe they’d be in danger of anti-Russian forces in Ukraine if Crimea were not annexed.