MOSCOW, January 14 (Itar-Tass) – Japan’s statements, which question Russia’s sovereignty over Kuril Islands, are unacceptable, Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Maria Zakharova said on Monday, January 14.
She commented on Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s remarks that the Shinzo Abe administration would stick to the same policy with regard to the ownership of the four disputable southern Kuril Islands, while showing flexibility on the timeline for their return to Japan.
“We have noted remarks by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga who basically repeated the official Japanese position on a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. We would like to point out that the southern Kuril Islands passed over to our country on lawful grounds based on the results of World War II, which is written down in the U.N. Charter. Any statements questioning Russia’s sovereignty over this territory are unacceptable,” Zakharova said.
“Moscow has repeatedly stressed that a solution to the problem of peace treaty should be sought against the background of active development of relations between the two countries in all areas. This approach was reiterated by the leaders of Russia and Japan during their telephone conversation on December 28, 2012,” she said.
Russia’s sovereignty over the Kurile Islands is unquestionable and based on the results of World War II, the Foreign Ministry said earlier.
“We would like to remind [Tokyo] again that Russia's sovereignty over these territories is not to be questioned and is based on the results of the Second World War legally formalised in the Crimean agreement of the three great powers on the Far East of February 11, 1945, the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, and the San Francisco Peace Treaty of September 8, 1951, and legitimised by Article 107 of the U.N. Charter,” the ministry said.
The dispute over the Kuril Islands is a dispute between Russia and Japan over sovereignty over the southernmost Kuril Islands. The disputed islands, which were occupied by Soviet forces during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of World War II, are currently under Russian administration.
The positions of the two sides have not substantially changed since the 1956 Joint Declaration, and a permanent peace treaty between Japan and Russia still has not been concluded.
On July 7, 2005, the European Parliament issued an official statement recommending the return of the territories in dispute, which Russia immediately protested.
As late as 2006, Russia's Vladimir Putin administration offered Japan the return of Shikotan and the Habomais (about 6 percent of the disputed area) if Japan would renounce its claims to the other two islands, referring to the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 which promised Shikotan and the Habomais would be ceded to Japan once a peace treaty was signed.
Japan has offered substantial financial aid to the Kuril Islands if they are handed over. However, by 2007, residents of the islands were starting to benefit from economic growth and improved living standards, arising in particular from expansion in the fish processing industry. As a result, it is thought that islanders are less likely to be won over by Japanese offers of financial support.
On February 6, 2008 Japan Today, an English-language news site in Japan, reported that the Russian president had suggested to the Japanese prime minister to finally settle all territorial disputes over the Kuril Islands and had sent him a letter inviting him to come to Russia for discussions.
The dispute over the Kuril Islands was further exacerbated on July 16, 2008 when the Japanese government published new school textbook guidelines directing teachers to say that Japan has sovereignty over the Kuril Islands. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on July 18: “[these actions] contribute neither to the development of positive cooperation between the two countries, nor to the settlement of the dispute” and reaffirmed its sovereignty over the islands.