SAPPORO – Former Japanese residents of the southern part of the Russia’s Sakhalin island, which was ruled by Japan from 1905 through to the end of World War II, will disband their federation at the end of March due to the aging of its members, the group said Monday.
The All Japan Federation of Karafuto established in 1948 has supported people who repatriated to Japan from the island, which was known in Japanese as Karafuto, and preserved historical materials related to Japanese residents there.
The federation, which had as many as 6,300 members in 1994 has struggled to solicit second- and third-generation members and currently consists of 968 people whose average age is 84, making it difficult to continue its activities, it said.
“Some things remain unfinished, but we have accomplished our historic mission. We want the younger generations to learn the history of Karafuto through the materials we have donated,” said Toshiichi Morikawa, 91, the head of its office in Hokkaido, the region that sits south of the island in the Russian Far East.
The federation has donated some 8,000 historical items, such as photographs and permits to board ships that repatriated residents from the island, to Hokkaido Museum in Sapporo and other facilities. The group plans to hold an exhibition in the Hokkaido capital from Feb. 18 to Feb. 21.
At one time there were as many as some 40 groups of former Karafuto residents in Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, but only about 10 are currently active.
The southern part of Sakhalin was controlled by Japan following the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth, which formally ended the Russo-Japanese war. About 400,000 Japanese lived in the area with fishery and forestry among its major industries.