The Russian town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk celebrated its 125th anniversary this past week. And just how did they ring in the celebration?
With, "a 15-square-metre sandwich with salmon caviar... [about] ninety kilogrammes of caviar!"
Each of the residents participating in the celebration will get a section of the red, heart-shaped sandwich.
Recently Russia has been looking to establish a monopoly on the caviar market demanding that only Russian-owned corporate trawlers be able to fish in Russian lakes, and that the sale should only take place in certain specialty shops. Part of the reason for this requested monopoly is the result of overfishing in Russia in which the fish industry "plummeted forty-fold since the breakup of the Soviet Union." Caviar harvesting is an industry Russia prides.
So just what does any of this have to do with Japan? Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, formerly Toyohara, used to be the capital of the Karafuto Prefecture.
Stay with me, this gets confusing....
Initially this became a Japanese-controlled colony just before the end of the Meji era (1912) when Japan won a part of the island (on land, below 50° N) just off the east coast of mainland Russia (pictured right, highlighted red) which is the closest territory of Russia "bordering" Japan. Up until 1945 Japan maintained control of the forfeited island, but after WWII, Russia fought a weakened Japanese nation over the territory, in which case Japan relinquished control of the land. In either case the land was either lost or gained by either side as a result of war.
Controversy still surrounds the island since Japan didn't necessarily return control to Russia after Russia formally reclaimed it in 1947 and Japan was made to relinquish it in the 1952 Treaty of San Fransisco, the infamous peace treaty signed by 49 nations to officially end complications of WWII, in which Japan ultimately had to return the land in full among other territories, despite not renouncing territorial sovereignty of any.
Today this territory battle has strained Japanese-Russian relations, particularly because no peace treaty has been designated on this matter.
Read more about the anniversary celebration here
Read more about the caviar monopoly here
Read more about the confusing battle of territories here
Whew, thanks Wikipedia!
This is a neat article encompassing nearly all of the issues, caviar, territorial, and otherwise, here
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