In my humble opinion, the main obstacle to improvement of Russo-Japanese relations is not the Kurile Islands, but a poor sense of humor in “the land of the rising sun” – в стране восходящего солнца. Our eastern neighbor is too easily offended (обидчивый) while we Russians are more relaxed, saying на обиженных воду возят (those who take offense get to carry water).
So, when President Дмитрий Медведев, notorious for his special sense of humor (at a recent dinner honoring film director Nikita Mikhalkov’s 65th birthday he began his speech by imitating the mumblings of Leonid Brezhnev), recently visited Kunashir, the southernmost Kuril island, the обидчивые overreacted.
It is a mystery to me how the Japanese could not have seen the humor in the president’s escapade. After all, he rode around the island in a Nissan jeep (the only vehicle capable of weathering the local бездорожье (“roadlessness”), and took photographs (surely with a Japanese camera). True, the visit came on the eve of a summit in Japan, but that’s no reason for Japan’s top самураи to делать себе харакири (commit hara-kiri). The archipelagic photo op was not a камикадзе attack on bilateral relations, just more like a clumsy (неуклюжий) decision by the long-time fan of the rock group Deep Purple (authors of My Woman from Tokyo, incidentally).
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