Why doesn’t Russia return the ‘Northern Territories’ to Japan? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14965696
A common search query by Japanese internet users on Google is on the lines of ‘Why doesn’t Russia return the ‘Northern Territories’ to Japan.’ RBTH asked political scientists and historians who are familiar with Russia-Japan relations to explain Moscow's position.
According to Valery Kistanov, head of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, “Russia's sovereignty over these islands is enshrined in international documents and is not questioned.”
He adds, “Japan got Southern Sakhalin as a war trophy at the end of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05. The Southern Kuril Islands can be considered a war trophy of Russia.”
Nikolay Murashkin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge, shares these sentiments. “Russia’s official position is that the islands became Russian territory as a result of the Second World War which was lost by Japan, therefore any obligation of ‘return’ is not implied,” he says.
“’Return’ is a word used by the Japanese side. Legally speaking, the only document agreed and ratified after the Second World War by both Japanese and Russian authorities is the 1956 joint declaration, which only mentions Moscow's agreement to ‘transfer,’ or ‘hand over’, i.e. not ‘return’ two islands after the peace treaty was signed,” Murashkin says.
According to Kistanov, the peace treaty negotiations would continue, but now “there is no reason for the transfer of the islands.”
Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, says, “Any territorial issue is solved only through very difficult negotiations, trade interests and deals, in which each side wins something, but with compromises.”
He adds, “In international relations no one ever transfers territories for no reason. If a deal is reached without solid bargaining and deep study, then a feeling of injustice may be back.”
Kistanov takes an example of judo terminology used by the Russian President.
“Vladimir Putin says a solution must be sought, where there are no winners or losers. For this he used the term hikiwake from judo,” Kistanov says. Hikiwake can be translated from Japanese as a drawn or tied match in judo.
“The final decision must be based on the 1956 declaration. Putin acknowledged its effectiveness in 2001 during his meeting with then Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori,” Kistanov adds.
The southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, including the islands of the Southern Kuril ridge, which Japan calls the ‘Northern Territories’ - Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai islets – became part of the Soviet Union as a result of the Second World War.
In April 1941 Moscow and Tokyo signed the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact (full text) for a period of 5 years. The Soviet Union renounced it in April 1945, 4 months before entering the war against Japan on Aug. 8, 1945.
The Soviet government justified its actions by saying the pact had lost its relevance. It made the following statement to explain the Soviet position: “Germany attacked the Soviet Union, and Germany’s ally, Japan helps it in the war against the Soviet Union. In addition, Japan is at war with the United States and Britain, which are allies of the Soviet Union.”
The Soviet entry into the Asian theater was decided during the Yalta Conference in February 1945. The U.S. and Britain agreed that the USSR would enter the war against Japan two or three months after Germany's capitulation on condition of recovering “the former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904.” That meant the return of the southern part of Sakhalin Island and all adjacent islands, including the Kuril Islands.
Japan surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945, however, it is yet to sign a peace treaty with the Soviet Union. The parties held negotiations that ended with the signing of a joint declaration (full text) on Oct. 19, 1956, in Moscow.
Article 9 of the declaration says, “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, desiring to meet the wishes of Japan and taking into consideration the interests of Japan, agrees to hand over to Japan the Habomai Islands and the island of Shikotan. However, the actual handing over the these islands to Japan shall take place after the conclusion of a peace treaty between Japan and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”
Japan ratified the document (the exchange of instruments of ratification took place on Dec. 12, 1956, in Tokyo), but later abandoned its execution, demanding to “return” of all the Southern Kuril Islands before the signing of a peace treaty.
#14965698
Oh for crying out laud they should just give those island to Japanese already preferably one at a time for favourable trade deals and establishment of good relations. Perhaps Russians and Japanese can establish technological and scientific cooperation through such diplomatic actions.

Plus I can stop finally seeing this in news every other year.
#14965704
The thing is Soviet Union broke the then Neutrality Pact between the two countries. The deceleration of war itself was not really justified. I guess one can say it serves the Japanese right as they themselves staged surprised attacks on the Americans at Pearl Harbour and Russians at Port Author in 1904 without official deceleration of war. Yet still it was not a justifiable war.

I would say the least thing that can be done now is to give the southern Kuril Island to Japan. Perhaps returning to 1855 border. Recently Russia has agreed to secede two island to Japan for the peace talks to continue.
Image I think two islands for a peace treaty with Japan is worth it.

What is however has to be clearly defined and resolved is what the Japanese exactly mean by the "Northern Territories". So that issue can finally be put to rest as well and Russia will not end up in a situation where after seceding the islands, it would be discovered that what Japanese meant by Northern Territories all this time is the whole of Kuril archipelago. As this will continue the dispute.
#14965781
The southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, including the islands of the Southern Kuril ridge, which Japan calls the ‘Northern Territories’ - Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai islets – became part of the Soviet Union as a result of the Second World War. “’Return’ is a word used by the Japanese side. Legally speaking, the only document agreed and ratified after the Second World War by both Japanese and Russian authorities is the 1956 joint declaration, which only mentions Moscow's agreement to ‘transfer,’ or ‘hand over’, i.e. not ‘return’ two islands after the peace treaty was signed,” Murashkin says.


Technically speaking, Shikotan and the Habomai islets were not part of the Southern Kuril Islands, which the Soviets were allowed to grab as the booties of war under the Yalta agreement. Britain acknowledged the mistake made by Stalin in 1945, implying that Shikotan and the Habomai islets actually belonged to Japan. Probably the Soviet delegates knew it when they signed the 1956 joint declaration.

AGREEMENT REGARDING JAPAN
The leaders of the three great powers - the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain - have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that:

1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People's Republic) shall be preserved.
2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz.:
(a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union;
(b) The commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored;
(c) The Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South Manchurian Railroad, which provide an outlet to Dairen, shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese company, it being understood that the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain sovereignty in Manchuria;
3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.
It is understood that the agreement concerning Outer Mongolia and the ports and railroads referred to above will require concurrence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The President will take measures in order to maintain this concurrence on advice from Marshal Stalin.

The heads of the three great powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.

For its part, the Soviet Union expresses it readiness to conclude with the National Government of China a pact of friendship and alliance between the U.S.S.R. and China in order to render assistance to China with its armed forces for the purpose of liberating China from the Japanese yoke.

Joseph Stalin
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Winston S. Churchill

February 11, 1945.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/yalta.asp
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