In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet regularly to discuss the development of Russian-Japanese relations, including in the economic sphere. The head of Russia notes the important role of joint plans for cooperation in the digital economy and in increasing productivity, increasing trade between the two countries, developing interaction in the construction, housing, utilities and urban environments.
However, the main problem of Russian-Japanese relations is Japan’s desire to return the four southern islands of the Kuril Ridge (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai). Russia has never questioned their sovereignty, which was reinforced by an international legal act. Nevertheless, the very fact of the discussion on this topic is very encouraging to the Japanese, and these hopes of the Japanese prime minister for the return of the southern islands are placed on the Russian president, whom the leader of Japan considers the only politician who can solve this problem. Therefore, Abe is moving closer to Putin despite the sanctions and ostracism.
The claims of the Japanese government on the Russian islands are groundless from a legal point of view, and Russia's firm position on the issue of the Kuriles has proven this for many years.
At the end of January 2019, the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ended in Moscow. The leaders of the countries confirmed the readiness for further work on the conclusion of an agreement. However, the question of how they intend to decide the fate of the Kuriles remained unresolved. The leaders of the two countries agreed on the opinion that their task is to ensure the long-term and comprehensive development of Russian-Japanese relations at a qualitative level. But there were no specific theses regarding the main issue - the ownership of the Kuril Islands. This territorial issue is painful for both parties, and negotiations are only in the initial stage. It is obvious that in a question that cannot be resolved for such a long time, it will not be able to do without substantial disagreements.
The South Kuril Islands are part of the border of the Russian Federation and became part of the Soviet Union following the Second World War.
Japan likes to refer to the Shimoda Treaty of 1855 on the delimitation of the Russian-Japanese border between the islands of Urup and Iturup, but the Russian-Japanese war of 1905 disavowed any past agreements, and the results of World War II formed a new configuration of the world order. From here references to the contract 1855 are naive.
One of the central conditions for the participation of the USSR in the war against Japan was an agreement between the United States and Great Britain on the unconditional assignment of the Kuril Islands to the jurisdiction of the USSR, subject to complete and unconditional surrender. In accordance with the decisions of the Yalta Conference of February 1945 and the Potsdam Agreement of August 1945. The final defeat of Japan in September 1945 initiated Directive No. 677 of January 29, 1946, which was formalized and signed by the United States in San Francisco. In other words, the essence of the directive was reduced to the withdrawal from the Japanese jurisdiction of all the Kuril Islands and the exclusion of any claims to South Sakhalin. Also, the document noted that “Japan waives all rights and claims to the Kuril Islands and part of Sakhalin Island, which Japan acquired sovereignty under the Portsmouth Treaty of September 5, 1905.’’
Claims of the USSR and Russia, as the successor of the USSR to the Kuril Islands, are formed in international acts as part of the post-war repartition of spheres of influence. Any revision and alternative interpretation of the results of the Second World War are excluded and, in fact, are criminal intent. Any attempt to transfer sovereignty over the Kuril Islands of Japan is treason with the inevitable lustration / impeachment of the people initiating this process.
However, the leaders of Russia and Japan do not cease to talk about readiness to make further efforts to conclude a peace treaty.