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Russian Military Buildup on Disputed Isles Clouds Resolution of Row with Tokyo

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 reports: Even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed their recent agreement on joint economic activities on four disputed islands off Hokkaido is a step toward resolving the territorial row, the islands’ strategic importance for Russia is likely to continue complicating the decades-old issue.

Even if the agreed economic cooperation chiefly in the Russian Far East makes headway, the strategic importance of the Russian-held islands, claimed by Japan, bodes ill for Tokyo in its efforts to regain them, especially given the advance of China in the Arctic region and Russia’s need to maintain its nuclear deterrence, according to some analysts.

Japan claims that Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group are an integral part of its territory and were illegally seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II in August 1945. Russia maintains the Soviet Union took the islands legitimately as the spoils of war.

Russia has been modernizing its military on the islands, which delineate the southern edge of the Sea of Okhotsk where Russian nuclear submarines are deployed. Read the rest of this entry »

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China: Shinzo Abe Statue with Hitler Mustache Removed by Shenyang Mall After Japanese Consulate Complains

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The Abe wax figure was first unveiled last week along with likenesses of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. 

Alex Linder writes: Unfortunately, customers visiting one Shenyang shopping mall will no longer be greeted by a bowing Shinzo Abe with a Hitler mustache after the mall received complaints from the Japanese consulate in the city.

The Abe wax figure was first unveiled last week along with likenesses of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Behind the kowtowing Japanese Prime Minister were Chinese characters reading: “Commemorating the September 18th Incident.”

“Confusingly, the worker added that the Hitler mustache was added intentionally to ‘make sure it didn’t entirely resemble Abe,’ and that the backdrop had nothing to do with the statues, as they had just been placed there temporarily.”

In English, this is known as the Mukden or Manchurian Incident, when a staged explosion in Shenyang (then called Mukden) provided Japan with the pretext for its invasion of Manchuria in 1931. This year was the 85th anniversary of that incident, causing some “patriotic” Chinese companies to ban their employees from buying the new iPhone 7.

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“The figures were all made by a craftsman from Dandong, Liaoning province, and displayed in order to ‘enrich the shopping experience of customers.'”

Those bans were largely ridiculed across China, as was this wax figure. Chinese netizens called the Abe-Hitler figure a “disgrace.” Read the rest of this entry »