Since 1981, Japan has observed February 7 as “Northern Territories Day,” which commemorates the signing of an 1855 treaty granting the nation possession of a chain of islands off the coast of Hokkaido.
In a recent commercial titled “Drawing the Northern Territories,” a male voice begins: “Even though it’s Japanese territory, Japanese people can’t live here.” Pastel drawings of picturesque mountains and fishermen at work segue into a shot of a woman looking out across a stretch of sea to a rocky outcrop. “Look, it’s so close,” continues the narrator, as “16 km” appears across the bottom of the shot. The ad ends with the message: “The Northern Territories: inherently Japanese.”
Harmless patriotism, or government propaganda? Public reactions seem to be leaning toward the latter.