Japan and Russia have never signed a Peace Treaty after World War II, due to the Southern Kuril Islands dispute (a.k.a. the “Northern Territories” as claimed by Japan).
In my opinion, Russia will never return the Southern Kuril Islands to Japan. It shouldn’t have to.
It is a mistake for Japan to expect Russia to return them to Japan.
Japan should accept it (since it lost the War) and, instead, sign the long-overdue Peaty Treaty with Russia.
Japan will then tremendously benefit economically from more substantial investments not only in the Kuril Islands but throughout the entire Far Eastern Region of Russia.
By doing so it will benefit both Russia and Japan.
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE:
by Ajay Kamalakaran, RUSSIA BEHIND THE HEADLINES – – June 11, 2015:
The Southern Kuril Islands, which comprise of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai Archipelago, were first colonized by Japan in the 19th century. They came under the Soviet Union’s control at the closing stages of the Second World War, when Imperial Japan was evicted from southern Sakhalin.
Japan claims sovereignty over the islands, calling them the “Northern Territories”.
AN EMOTIVE ISSUE IN BOTH COUNTRIES
When Japan was evicted from the Southern Kuril Islands in 1945, 17,000 Japanese citizens were deported from the chain. Many of these people are still alive and reside in Hokkaido. “It would be political suicide for any government in Tokyo (i.e., prime minister Shinzo Abe, etc.) to compromise on the Northern Territories,” says Shigeo Tanaka, a political analyst based in the Japanese city of Sapporo. “The association of former Northern Territory residents has great political lobbying power and sympathy.”
Anytime a country talks about transferring territory, there is bound to be a section of the public that would be unhappy. In 2004, when Russia transferred Tarabarov Island and half of the Bolshoi Ussuriski Island on the Amur River to China as a final settlement of the border dispute, there were protests in many parts of the Russian Far East.
Tamara Chikova, a professor at the Sakhalin State University believes that a transfer of Shikotan and the Habomai archipelago (an offer made by different Russian governments in the past) would trigger strong protests. “The logic of the nationalistic groups is that Russia should not return land seized from a country that allied itself with Nazi Germany,” she says.
(I totally agree with her).
“Would Russia return Kaliningrad to the Germans,” she asks rhetorically.
Putin will never allow it.
RUSSIA’S GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN
The islands of Kunashir and Iturup are resource-rich and are believed to have an abundance of rare earth metals. The success of oil and gas projects off nearby Sakhalin Island has also spurred energy companies to survey the waters near the Kurils for hydrocarbon deposits. The islands, with their virgin forests, volcanoes and waterfalls, also hold immense potential for tourism.
In an article titled ‘The Strategic Value of Territorial Islands from the Perspective of National Security,’ the Japan-based Review of Island Studies says the increased Russian military activity on the Southern Kurils is largely in anticipation of the opening of the Northern Sea Route, a shipping lane that connects the Kara Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The route runs along the Russian Arctic Coast and would provide both military and economic advantages to the country.
But Japan will also definitely benefit from the economic opportunities in the region.
“The route effectively makes Russia a major Asia-Pacific power,” says Tanaka. “At a time when we are seeing a new kind of Cold War, Russia and China possess the capability to blockade Japan, in case there is some sort of American misadventure instigated in the region.”
The islands of Kunashir and Iturup are an integral part of Russia’s Asia-Pacific defense and economic strategy. Under these circumstances, it seems like the only way a World War II peace treaty can be established between Russia and Japan is through a compromise on Tokyo’s part.
But in my opinion, there shouldn’t have to be any compromise. Japan should not expect Russia to return those territories which now belong to Russia. Period.
Norio Hayakawa’s CIVILIAN INTELLIGENCE NEWS SERVICE
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