Disused Northern Territories Lighthouse Abruptly Painted; Act Precedes Displaced Residents’ Offshore Memorial Service

Provided photo
A lighthouse on Kaigara Island in Japan’s northern territories is seen painted white on Thursday.

NEMURO, Hokkaido — The lighthouse on Kaigara Island, part of the Habomai islets in the northern territories, was painted white on Thursday, it has been learned.

On Aug. 2, the Nemuro Coast Guard Office confirmed that a Russian flag was seen flying at the top of the lighthouse.

There had been no record of such acts in recent years.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A lighthouse on Kaigara Island in Japan’s northern territories is seen on Aug. 12.

Some have suggested that it was a provocation to assert Russia’s claim of sovereignty in response to Japan’s economic sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. It has also been said that it may have been done in anticipation of offshore memorial services for former islanders and others to be held beginning on Monday in a sea area overlooked by the lighthouse, near the median line between the northern territories and the main island of Hokkaido.

The lighthouse is located about 3.7 kilometers from Cape Nosappu in Nemuro.

Staff at Hoppokan, a facility for raising awareness of the northern territories issue, located at the tip of Cape Nosappu in Nemuro, said they saw a boat with several people on board arrive at the lighthouse and paint the lighthouse white.

The Nemuro Coast Guard also said it monitored the lighthouse from a patrol boat and confirmed that it had been painted.

The lighthouse was built by Japan before World War II. After the war, the lighthouse was effectively under Russian control and was left untouched. It is now dilapidated and no longer has any function.

“It’s obvious that the intent is to Russify the island. It is regrettable, and I feel that they have done it again,” said Yasuji Tsunoda, 86, head of the Nemuro branch of a group of former island residents.