Japan claims three islands - Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai archipelago. Tokyo proposed return of the islands as a condition for concluding a peace treaty with Russia, which at the end of the Second World War was never signed.
Moscow's position is that the Southern Kurile Islands were part of the USSR following the Second World War and Russia's sovereignty over them, which has a corresponding international legal formulation, is not in doubt.
However, Japan does not accept this fact and does not renounce its claims to these islands.
At present, there are serious changes in Japanese politics. Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun to take decisive action in reviewing the status of the Japanese self-defense forces. In September 2015, the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament authorized the use of "self-defense forces" outside Japan. This effectively nullified the non-military, neutral status of Japan, which had been in force for 70 years. In addition, expenditures on the armed forces have increased significantly in recent years. Currently, the "self-defense forces" take the sixth place in the world and the second in the region (after the Chinese army). They have one of the most advanced weapons and equipment on land, at sea and in the air.
Such changes, connected with the armed forces, suggest that Japan wants its voice in the political arena to become more significant, especially in territorial issues.
However, the likelihood that Japan will resolve territorial issues with Russia by armed means in the near future is extremely small. Even if the Japanese government decides to take aggressive measures against Russia, it is unlikely that it will be supported by a simple Japanese people, in which, pacifist sentiments are deeply entrenched after the Second World War.
In September 2016, only a quarter of the Japanese surveyed support the authorities' tough position in the territorial dispute with Russia. According to the data obtained in the survey, 57% of respondents favored a compromise solution in the dispute over the Kuril Islands, 9% of Japanese are not interested in this problem at all and 25% of respondents believe that the government should negotiate with Russia as much as possible to transfer all four controversial islands.
In addition, the population of Japan is concentrated on the extremely small territory of the Japanese archipelago, and in the event of a missile attack on this country, most of it will be destroyed. The Japanese already have a bitter experience of living in the country after the atomic bombing.
Japan is a country with a developed economy and a high standard of living. Therefore, even though the Japanese government has taken a course to strengthen its armed forces, it is unlikely to use them against Russia. After all, any act of aggression towards Russia will lead to the death of most of the peaceful and happy population of Japan. The small group of almost uninhabited Kuril Islands is clearly not worth it.