Kuril Islands dispute
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- Northern Territories redirects to here. For similarly named territories, see Northern Territories (disambiguation)
The Kuril Island dispute is a dispute between Japan and Russia over sovereignty over the southernmost Kuril Islands. The disputed islands are currently under Russian administration as part of the Sakhalin Oblast, but are also claimed by Japan, which refers to them as the Northern Territories (北方領土 Hoppō Ryōdo) or Southern Chishima (南千島 Minami Chishima). The disputed islands are:
- Kunashir in Russian (Кунашир) or Kunashiri in Japanese (国後島)
- Iturup in Russian (Итуруп), or Etorofu in Japanese (択捉島)
- Shikotan in both Russian (Шикотан) and Japanese (色丹島)
- the Habomai rocks in both Russian (Хабомай) and Japanese (歯舞群島)
The dispute results from an ambiguity over the Treaty of San Francisco (1951). Under Article 2c, Japan renounces all right, title, and claim to the Kuril Islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth signed on 5 September 1905. It was in accord with earlier agreements between Allied powers and one of the conditions of the USSR to enter in war with Japan.
However, the Soviet Union chose not to be a signatory to the San Francisco Treaty. And Article 2 of an earlier (1855) Russo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation (the Treaty of Shimoda), which provided for an agreement on borders, states "Henceforth the boundary between the two nations shall lie between the islands of Etorofu and Uruppu. The whole of Etorofu shall belong to Japan; and the Kurile Islands, lying to the north of and including Uruppu, shall belong to Russia." Note that Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomais Islands are not explicitly mentioned in the treaty.
Since the Soviet Union era, the occupation has been taught there that "the punishment to Japan" to rationalize the war trophy while there was practically no hostile activity between the USSR and Japan before the USSR renounced the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact and declared war on Japan (Operation August Storm) on August 8, 1945.
On July 7, 2005, the European Parliament issued official statement that the recommendation of the return to Japan of the 'Northern territories' that were occupied by the then Soviet Union at the end of World War II and are currently occupied by Russia<ref>European Parliament resolution on relations between the EU, China and Taiwan and security in the Far East #15 </ref> which immediately evoked the radical reaction of Russia.
As of 2006, Russia's Putin administration has offered Japan the return of Shikotan and the Habomais (about 6% of the disputed area) if Japan renounce its claims to the other two islands. The Soviet-Japanese joint declaration of 1956 signed by the USSR and Japan promised at least Shikotan and the Habomais to be returned to Japan after a peace agreement concluded.
On 16 August 2006, a Russian border patrol boat found a Japanese vessel fishing near the disputed islands. The Japanese vessel allegedly defied several orders to stop, and made dangerous manoeuvres. A Russian patrol opened preventive fire on the Japanese vessel to stop it. A Japanese 35-year-old crab fisherman, Mitsuhiro Morita,<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> was wounded in the head accidentally and died later. It was the first fatality related to this dispute in 50 years.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> However, the diplomatic fallout from this incident was minimal.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 See also
 External links
- Japan's Northern Territories (Japanese government website)
- News from Kuril Islands (News Blog in German and English)
- Map of the region showing the history of the Russo-Japanese border
- The convoluted case of the coveted Kurils analysis by Kosuke Takahashi (November 25, 2004)
- Northern Territories dispute highlights flawed diplomacy by Gregory Clark, Japan Times (March 24, 2005)
- Creative thinking on the Kurils analysis by Kosuke Takahashi (April 20, 2005)
- Akaha and Vassilieva, "Lessons for Improved Japan - Russia Relations", Asahi Shimbun, June 20, 2005, Monterey Institute of International Studies
- Kuril Island Society, which is committed to raise awareness about pristine wildlife sanctuary covering most of the disputed region.
- Little known facts in history of the dispute (in Russian).
- Northern Territories Dispute Highlights Flawed Diplomacy An essay by the Vice President of the Akita International Universityde:Kurilenkonflikt