To visit the island of Sakhalin is to be reminded of the shifting fortunes of empire.

From Imperial Japan to Tsarist Russia, and later Soviet rule, Wars and changing boundaries have shaped Sakhalin’s history carrying families in their wake.

I was born here, grew up here. Until I was seven, I was brought up in a Japanese family.

Sirokhata’s parents stayed in Sakhalin after Soviet forces took control of the island in the waning days of World War two, so young Masaesi adapted learning Russian and later joining the Soviet army to guard against the Japanese.

The Japanese are coming from over there, they’d say during attack drills.

What do you mean coming? Here’s one right next to me. We all joked about it.

Today, locals prefer to tout Sakhalin’s growing economic integration with Asia while the Kremlin has invested heavily in the island. Sakhalin oil, gas, fishing and tourism industries are all banking on outside investment and visitors.

It’s a long way from days when the Soviet territory was closed to outsiders. We were part of the Soviet Union. We were developing the cities and factories. The people came here to live and work. When I was a schoolboy, I was not at all interested if we had some relations with Japan or not. But Sakhalin’s Korean community still vibrant has never forgotten. My family history is tragic, but that tragedy touched not only us, take almost any family here and it’s the same. Brought to Sakhalin as cheap labor by the Japanese, the island’s Korean diaspora was cut off from their homeland as the Iron Curtain descended.

Even today, the process of family reunification and unfulfilled demands for Japanese reparations is an open wound for many. My home is Sakhalin, but my roots are in Korea, and if we forget our roots, we forget who we are.

Differences over whose roots also lie at the heart of a dispute, over the tiny coral islands that have kept Russia and Japan formally at war for over 70 years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo the two sides work how to deal by years then.

How realistic that goal, say some locals, depends on how willing the Japanese are to bend.

Russia of course is a generous country and ready to forgive the debts, but give away its territory, no one will forgive that.

And with Russia facing another territorial dispute over the annexation of Crimea, the long standoff with Japan may offer a lesson that resolutions to some disputes remain out of reach, somewhere beyond the horizon.

Charles Maynes for VOA News, Sakhalin Island Russia.
















来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: https://www.veryv.net/18/11/Normal27080035dq.html