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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
More registering disputed territories as official domicile
Around 520 Japanese had registered territories disputed with neighboring countries as their official domicile as of the end of January, according to a survey of municipalities.
More have registered disputed islands as their official places of residence, apparently due to frustration over the government's inability to resolve territorial disputes and anger at China's and Russia's hardline stances following recent incidents.
Japanese citizens are allowed to register any place claimed by Japan as their official addresses as long as the location has a land number allocated by authorities.
Sentiment toward Beijing and Moscow has hardened since a Chinese fishing boat had a run-in with Japan Coast Guard cutters near the Senkaku Islands in September and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Kunashiri Island, one of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan, in November.
Japan's relations with South Korea could also be strained by Shimane Prefecture's annual "Takeshima Day" on Feb. 22. The islets are controlled by South Korea, which calls them Dokdo.
One Tokyo resident who in December changed his official address to Etorofu, one of the four Russian-held islands, said the registration was an act of protest.
A total of 175 Japanese have registered the four disputed islands off Hokkaido — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group — as their official addresses, according to the Hokkaido municipality of Nemuro.
Excluding those registered as Habomai residents, the number stood at 133 as of the end of January, up from 44 in fiscal 1983. Another 262 Japanese have changed their official addresses to the uninhabited rocks in the Pacific that Japan calls Okinotori and claims as its southernmost point, up from 122 in 2005.
China claims Okinotori is not an island and opposes Japan's claim to a 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone around the rocks.
Also, 69 Japanese have registered their addresses as Takeshima and about 20 registered the Senkakus as their address.