Utari Mosir

From Dominion of British Columbia

Utari Mosir, meaning "Ainu Land" in the Ainu language, is a semi-autonomous territory of British Columbia. Located immediately to the northeast of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Utari Mosir comprises the southern portion of the Kuril Islands chain. Its capital city is Shana, on the island of Iturup.

Description

As a recognised Indigenous Administrative District (IAD) of BC like for example Nisga’a Lisims and Haida Gwaii since 1979, Utari Mosir has, like Cymru Newydd as well, greater autonomy from the central Dominion Government than do other Regional Districts. It has an elected District Council with representatives from all four inhabited islands, and sends one representative to the House of Commons (the Member of Parliament for the Electoral District of Utari Mosir); however, the Ainu do not have a representative in the Council of Chiefs.

The official languages of Utari Mosir are Ainu and English. There is also a sizeable Japanese minority (about 18% of the population), many of whom are the descendents of Japanese who opted to remain on the islands after the end of the Pacific War; there was also some immigration from Japan to Utari Mosir from the 1960s to the 1980s. As well, the 1970s saw an influx of a significant number of refugees from Vietnam. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has also been some immigration from Primoria. Residents of European origin make up about one-third of the total population.

Utari Mosir consists of seven islands with a total area of 2,446 square miles (Ainu name in parentheses):

  • Broughton Island, (2.7 sq mi) uninhabited
  • Chirpoy (Repunmo-sir), (8.1 sq mi) uninhabited
  • Iturup (Etuworop-sir), (1,212 sq mi; 42,312) capital: Shana. Utari Mosir's primary airport, Iturup International Airport, is located here.
  • Kunashir (Kuna-sir), (580 sq mi; 21,031) capital: Furukamap. Utari Mosir's secondary airport, Furukamap International Airport, is located here.
  • Lesser Chirpoy, (6.2 sq mi) uninhabited
  • Shikotan (Sikotan-sir), (87 sq mi; 2,307) capital: Shikotan. A bus service links Sikotan with the island's other village, Anama, located about 5.5 miles away.
  • Urup (Orop-sir), (550 sq mi; 14,448) capital: Urup

The total population of the islands is 80,098.

History

At the end of the Pacific War, the islands making up Utari Mosir were under BC occupation since their capture in late 1944 as a result of Operation Chickamin. Both the Japanese and the Soviet Union claimed the islands, and though the Soviets occupied the northern part of the Kuril Islands in 1945, they did not move against the islands held by British Columbian troops.

Japan gave up all claims to the Kuril Islands in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, although they were allowed to keep the Habomai Islets. The British Columbian occupation of the seven southernmost islands was formalised with the United Nations awarding BC Trust Territory status over the islands as the UN Trust Territory of the Kuril Islands in 1952, during the Korean War; the Soviets incorporated the islands they occupied into Sakhalin Oblast. Japan acknowledged Soviet jurisdiction over those islands as part of the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956.

In 1975, a referendum was held in the islands over whether the population wish to become an independent state, or whether to formally become an Indigenous Administrative District of BC; the latter option won with 87% voting in favour, and in 1978 the IAD of Utari Mosir was created. In 1979 the Electoral District of Utari Mosir sent its first representative to the House of Commons, Henry Wakarpa (Social Credit).