Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kuril Island conflict
- For the video game see Kuril Islands Conflict.
The Kuril Island conflict is a dispute between Japan and Russia over sovereignty over the southernmost Kuril Islands. The disputed islands are currently under Russian administration as part of the Sakhalin Oblast, but are also claimed by Japan, which refers to them as the Northern Territories (北方領土) or Southern Chishima (南千島). The disputed islands are called:
- Kunashiri in Japanese (国後島), or "Kunashir" in Russian (Кунашир)
- Etorofu in Japanese (択捉島), or "Iturup" in Russian (Итуруп)
- Shikotan in Japanese (色丹島) and Russian (Шикотан)
- The Habomai rocks in Japanese (歯舞群島) and Russian (Хабомай)
The dispute results from an ambiguity over the Treaty of San Francisco (1951). Under Article 2c), Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of 5 September 1905.
However, the Soviet Union chose not to be signatory to the San Francisco Treaty. And Article 2 of an earlier (1855) Russo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation (the Shimoda Treaty ), which provided for an agreement on borders, states "Henceforth the boundary between the two nations shall lie between the islands of Etorofu and Uruppu . The whole of Etorofu shall belong to Japan; and the Kurile Islands, lying to the north of and including Uruppu, shall belong to Russia." Note that Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomais Islands are not explicitly mentioned in the treaty.
Japan mantains its claim to the whole of South Kurile Islands. Russian position varies from administration to administration; as of December 2004, it tends to follow the declaration signed by the USSR and Japan in 1956 which stipulated for the disputed group being divided between the two nations, Russia keeping the two northernmost islands and ceding Shikotan and the Habomais to Japan.
However, the claims of the indigenous Ainu people to the islands have gone largely ignored by the powers that be.
- Japan's Northern Territories (Japanese government website)
- News from Kuril Islands (News Blog in German and English)
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