Russia to again hold summer forum on disputed island


The Russian government said it will hold a youth educational forum on Etorofu, one of the four Russian-held islands sought by Japan, between Aug. 6 and Sept. 3.

The forum, which will take place on the dispute island for the second consecutive year, will be larger than the one held last August.

The forum targets students and young patriotic activists. It is aimed at strengthening Russia’s effective control over the islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan, and the Habomai islets.

The administration of President Vladimir Putin is apparently trying to bolster Russian patriotism ahead of lower house elections scheduled for Sept. 18.

Last year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev went to Etorofu on Aug. 22 to attend the forum, despite demands by the Japanese government to cancel the visit.

If a key Russian government figure visits Etorofu this year, relations between Japan and Russia could be damaged, even as the two countries work on arranging a visit to Japan by Putin.

According to the Russian government, three groups each consisting of 100 participants will take turns visiting Etorofu during the forum.

Last year 200 participants, split into two groups, took part.

Russia marks its effective victory against Japan in World War II on Sept. 2.

As that date will occur during the forum, the Russian government could use the event as an opportunity to stress its claim that its control over the islands is a result of the war.