Disinfo: Informed Japanese believe that the Kuril Islands are an integral part of Russia

Summary

All Japanese who know Russia’s position have long believed that the Kuril Islands are an integral part of Russia. The time for land exchange between Russia and Japan, which had previously taken place as a result of previous wars, has passed.

Disproof

It is a false claim that Japanese people who are knowledgable about the situation believe that the disputed islands are an integral part of Russia.

The four southernmost island in what Russia refers to as the "Kuril Islands" have never been a part of Russia until WWII. The Island chain referred to as the Kuril Islands stretches northeast from Japan’s main northern island of Hokkaido to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

Japan makes its territorial claim for only the four most southern islands in the chain and refers to them as the "Northern Territoies", and does not consider them part of the Kuril Islands. The Soviet Union occupied the four islands at the end of the war expelling all 17,000 Japanese residents.

The islands were never under Soviet or Russian sovereignty before that date. On the other hand, in 1855, Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimoda, which gave Japan ownership of the four southern islands and Russia ownership of everything to the north.

Under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed between the Allies and Japan in the aftermath of WWII, Japan renounced "all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands", as well as over other possessions. However, Russia did not sign the treaty and the Japanese government has never recognised the four islands as part of the Kuril chain.

Part of the dispute is based on the definition of Kuril Islands and whether it includes the four islands in question. Russia claims they are part of the Kuril Islands chain and Japan says they are not.

In 2005, the European Parliament issued an official statement urging the return of the territories in dispute to Japan.

In an opinion poll conducted in late 2018, an initial return of two islands garnered 46% support in the survey among Japanese people. 33% wanted all four returned together, while only 5% were satisfied with getting just two islands back. This defies the claim of the article that people in Japan "who know the Russian position" realize that the islands are an integral part of Russian territory.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 202
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/06/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Japan, Russia
  • Keywords: Territorial dispute
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