TOKYO, January 23. /TASS/. During the last stage of 1956 negotiations on restoring diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, the Japanese government dropped its claim that the sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands must be determined during future talks on a peace agreement, says the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, citing previously unpublished diplomatic notes made at the time by the staff of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
The notes ended up in the archive of Japan’s ex-Prime Minister Takeo Miki. After his death, in accordance with his will, the archive was handed over to Meiji University in Tokyo, where researchers have discovered the document.
Up until this moment, the government of Japan had claimed that during the 1956 negotiations with the USSR, it consistently demanded that the Kuril Islands dispute must be settled before a peace deal is signed. However, the newly discovered document clearly proves that this demand was eventually withdrawn for the sake of speeding up the agreement, since the Soviet Union had yet to consent to Japan’s admission to the United Nations, and that depended on the restoration of bilateral relations between Tokyo and the Kremlin, the newspaper says. However, that does not mean that Tokyo really gave up on its claims, it adds.
The two nations are stuck in the mud on negotiations for a World War II peace deal since the middle of the 20th century, with the South Kuril Islands issue remaining the key stumbling block. After the war, the entire archipelago was included into the Soviet Union, but Japan laid claims to the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of smaller Habomai islands. The Russian Foreign Ministry repeatedly underscored that Russian sovereignty over these territories has been properly framed within international law and cannot be disputed.
The 1956 joint Soviet-Japanese declaration formally ended the war between the two nations and revived diplomatic relations. In the declaration, the USSR expressed its readiness to hand over the Shikotan island and a number of smaller islands to Japan, under a precondition that the territories would come under Japanese control only after a peace deal is signed. The declaration was ratified by both parliaments on December 8, 1956. In May 2019, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov stated that the document makes it clear that a consideration of the territorial dispute can only be conducted after the peace deal is signed.