TOKYO (Rahnuma): Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition ally Komeito on Tuesday submitted a draft resolution to parliament admonishing lawmaker Hodaka Maruyama for a controversial remark he made about Japan using war to regain control over islands central to a territorial spat with Russia.
The submitted draft calls on Maruyama, who has been expelled from the Japan Innovation Party, yet has refused to give up his seat as a lawmaker in parliament’s lower chamber despite six opposition parties submitting a joint motion calling for him to resign, to reflect on his remarks.
The resolution, the first to be submitted to parliament to admonish a lawmaker who is not facing criminal charges, does not, however, insist that he resign, although does state that his remarks “cannot be tolerated as they go against pacifism and severely undermine national interests.”
The controversy surrounding 35-year-old Maruyama, stemmed from him joining a group of former residents of Kunashiri Island off Hokkaido from May 10 through 13 under a Japan-Russia visa-free exchange program.
According to the head of the group of former residents, Maruyama asked him while drunk, “Do you think there is any alternative to war to recover the islands?”
The head of the group dismissed the remark, and Maruyama subsequently retracted the comments amid stern condemnation from Russia and calls from opposition parties for him to step down as his remarks ran contrary to Japan’s pacifist Constitution.
A Japan Innovation Party committee in Osaka unanimously decided to expel Maruyama, with the committee saying that Maruyama’s remarks had led to public mistrust.
Japan’s top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, slammed Maruyama’s remarks as being “extremely regrettable,” adding that Tokyo remained committed to resolving the territorial dispute with Moscow through diplomatic means.
The islands at the center of the dispute between Tokyo and Moscow are known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
The decades-old territorial spat has prevented the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty and hindered diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.
Both parties have, however, provisionally agreed to discuss furthering joint economic activities on the islands and Abe has made it one of his priorities as leader to continue to strive to resolve the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty.
Despite the widespread condemnation, however, Maruyama, elected three times from a constituency in Osaka Prefecture, has refused to resign as a lower house lawmaker.
“I will definitely not resign even if the motion is passed,” Maruyama told a press briefing on the matter Monday, with reference to the opposition parties’ resolution urging him to do so.