The peculiarity of Russia’s relations with Japan is the existence in them of the problem of concluding a peace Treaty that would include the issue of border demarcation. The main problem in achieving agreement was the extension of Japan’s territorial claims to the southern Kuril Islands (Iturup island, Kunashir island and the Small Kuril ridge).
Japan insists that the so-called “Northern territories” as in Japan called the Islands of the southern part of the Kuril Islands, are native Japanese territories. This position was voiced by the Minister of foreign Affairs of Japan, Taro Kono, speaking in Tokyo on 7 February 2018 at the “National rally for the return of the Northern territories”.
A day earlier, on 6 February, the Japanese foreign Ministry said Russia’s protest against the Russian anti-terrorist exercises on the Kuril Islands, stressing that they contradict Japan’s position in respect of these areas.
A week later, on 13 February 2018, SakhalinMedia reported that the government of Japan intends to public funds to organize regular familiarization tours for teachers and students in the areas adjacent to the southern part of the Kuril Islands to support the community’s interest in Tokyo’s claims to these Islands.
In the first phase there will be organized tours only for school teachers in four town and village in Hokkaido, which is directly adjacent to the southern part of the Kuril Islands. Next year will start the trip and students in the area to acquaint young people with the so-called “Northern territories.”
Tours of this kind will be organized in the city of Nemuro in the far North-Eastern tip of Hokkaido, where in good weather the southern part of the Kuril Islands visible to the naked eye. It is planned to organize also boat trips to the ship to get closer to the Islands without leaving the Japanese zone of control.
The government plans to assume the costs of transport and accommodation of participants speaking tours, during which students will arrange a meeting with repatriated to Japan by former residents of the South Kuril Islands, to familiarize with their way of life on the Islands until 1945.
The Islands of the southern Kuril Islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a number of small uninhabited Islands that Tokyo calls the Habomai, became part of the Soviet Union at the end of the Second world war, however, their membership is disputed by Japan.
Despite the fact that Japanese territorial claims to Russia irrepressible, Moscow’s position on this issue is unequivocal – the Kuril Islands are an integral part of the Russian state.