Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Hiroshi Kimura

【#290】Weird Behaviors of Former PM Hatoyama

Hiroshi Kimura / 2015.03.19 (Thu)

March 16, 2015

     Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited Crimea with a visa issued by the Russian government March 11-12. Given that the Japanese government has not recognized Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea, a former prime minister's visit to Crimea is nothing but running counter to Japan's foreign policy. During his stay in Crimea, Hatoyama asserted that Crimea was annexed by Russia democratically and peacefully in accordance with Ukraine's constitution. I have no choice but to criticize this assertion as indicating his lack of international law knowledge that cannot be condoned even for junior high school students, or his intentional misunderstanding.

Stupid applause of Crimea annexation
     The direct democracy means of referendum, though suitable for a city state in ancient Greece, must be considered a supplement to today's indirect democracy based on a representative system. In fact, Article 73 of Ukraine's constitution provides that any border change must be subjected to national referendum for the whole of the nation. Therefore, the Crimea referendum forced through by pro-Russian forces on March 16, 2014, was nothing more than an unconstitutional act.
     Furthermore, the referendum came under military intimidation. Exerting pressure on voters were not only sailors of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, but also masked Russian special forces troops who claimed themselves as "self-defense units," nicknamed "green people" because of their camouflage uniform. They wandered on the Crimean Peninsula. More than 25,000 Russian troops in total forced ethnic Ukrainians (accounting for 24% of Crimean population) and Crimean Tatars (13%) to stay at home without going to vote. To the contrary, ethnic Russian residents (58%) openly rigged votes by the use of multiple votes per voter and other means of cheating.

Lack of knowledge or any political motive?
     An official announcement has shown that 96.7% of voters in the referendum voted for Crimea's annexation into Russia. But a survey report by the “Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights” provided substantially different data about the referendum. Only 30-50% of eligible voters went to vote, with 50-60% of actual votes supporting the annexation, indicating that a mere 15-30% of eligible voters endorsed the annexation.
     Third, Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea ran counter to the United Nations Charter, the 1975 Helsinki Declaration calling for respect for state sovereignty, and other international treaties and agreements Russia has signed. All these prohibit any unilateral change to borders under threat or use of force.
     It is unconceivable that Hatoyama who has served as prime minister of Japan may not have been unaware of easily understandable common sense of international law noted above. Then does his remark indicate that he made a political assertion while pretending to be ignorant of the common sense or suggest his simple exhibitionistic tendency? His behaviors are incomprehensible for ordinary people.

Hiroshi Kimura is Professor Emeritus of Hokkaido University.