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Current Affairs

Kuril island dispute

Date: 28 April 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Japan has alleged that Russia has illegally occupied four islands near its maritime border with the country.

 

Background

This is for the first time in 20 years that Japan has called the southern Kuril Islands illegally occupied. The dispute however stretches long back.

 

Details

  • The islands are located near Kamchatka Peninsula. They are called Kurils by Russia and Northern Territories by Japan.

  • The islands stretch from Hokkaido islands of Japan in the Pacific Ocean to the edge of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

 

Origin of dispute

  • The territory was captured by Russia after the Second World War when Japan lost to the Allied forces, of which Russia was a part.

  • Japan has since demanded that its rights over four of the southern islands be restored. Russia has refused to oblige to the demands.

  • Japan says that the islands came under its control in 16th century, almost 200 years before arrival of Russians.

 

Treaty on Kuril Island

  • Japan relinquished its claims over the island in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1953, signed between Allies and Japan after the World War II.

  • Japan does not agree to the San Francisco Treaty as Soviet Union never signed the peace treaty after the war.

  • Russia had previously proposed to hand-over two of the closest islands to Japan but the offer was rejected.

 

Disputed islands

  • Kunashiri (Kunashir)

  • Etorofu (Iturup)

  • Shikotan

  • Habomai

 

Military tensions in Indo-Pacific

  • Russia has performed military drills in the region, which has irked Japan. The issue is likely to feature in the future QUAD discussions.

  • Japan and China are already embroiled over the Senkaku islands dispute. Japan fears that the island disputes could bring Russia and China together.

 

Japan’s demands

Demilitarization of the islands should be immediately carried out. Russia must vacate the illegally occupied southern Kuril Islands.