Problem of Signing Russia-Japan Peace Treaty

The problem of signing the peace treaty, which would include the solution of the issue of border demarcation, has long been a specific feature in Russia-Japan relations.

The main obstacle standing in the way of an agreement is Japan’s unjustified territorial claims to the South Kuril Islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai. The Kuril Islands are claimed by both Russia and Japan. However, all of the islands are under Russian jurisdiction.

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Southern Kurils are an archipelago of volcanic islands, which separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the northeastern corner of Japanese Hokkaido Island to Russian Kamchatka Peninsula. They consist of two parallel groups of islands, Greater Kuril Ridge and Lesser Kuril Ridge. The Kuril Islands were first mentioned by a 17th-century Russian explorer Vladimir Atlasov. Most of the Kuril Islands were mapped in 1745.

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The Japanese moved to the Northern Kurils in parallel with the development of the Kurils by Russia. Rebuffing the Japanese onslaught, Russia built a fortified military camp on the island of Urup in 1795. A dual power actually formed on the Kuril Islands by 1804 — the influence of Russia was felt more strongly in the Northern Kurils, while the Japanese influence — in the South. But…

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