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Prospect is Bleak for the Settlement of Territorial Conflict between Russia and Japan

With regard to the issue of dominion over the southern Kuril Islands, Russian President Putin insisted that Japan should admit the outcome of the World War II, in the plenary meeting of the 6th Eastern Economic Forum held some time ago, in Vladivostok, Russia.

President Putin also announced his plan to create a special economic zone on the Kuril Islands and expressed his idea to attract many investors at home and abroad into this zone.

As soon as President Putin’s plan was announced, Chief Cabinet Secretary and Foreign Minister of Japan immediately came forth to show a strong reaction, saying that the plan of Russia is contrary to the position of Japan and that they cannot accept such a plan.

A Japanese expert commented as follows:

If a special economic system is established on the Kuril Islands including the four islands of the southern Kuril Islands which is regarded by Japan as its “northern territory”, and the foreign enterprises are introduced into this area on a massive scale, international recognition that the southern Kuril Islands are the legal territory of Russia will be deepened, and this will create difficulties in solving the territorial issue.

As is already known, conflicts and discrepancies continue to exist between Russia and Japan since the period of the former Soviet Union over the issue of dominion over the southern Kuril Islands.

Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union, holds a dominion over Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomai – the four islands of the southern Kuril Islands, in accordance with Yalta Agreement, Potsdam Declaration and other international documents on the outcome of the World War II, which were concluded in 1945. However, Japan insists that these islands are their own possession, saying that those documents mentioned above did not completely settle the issue of dominion over the southern Kuril Islands.

Russia has taken it up as a condition for the conclusion of peace treaty that Japan unconditionally admits the outcome of the World War II, including the fact that the dominion over the southern Kuril Islands was transferred to Russia.

Contrary to this, Japan insists that Russia should cede the southern Kuril Islands to Japan prior to the conclusion of peace treaty.

As for the issue of dominion over the southern Kuril Islands, the Russian authority has its clear stand. The local inhabitants have also a quite tough stance.

Pan-Russia Center for Surveying Public Opinion conducted a poll of inhabitants on the southern Kuril Islands. To the question “Should we hand over the southern Kuril Islands for the sake of the conclusion of the peace treaty and the development of the relations between Russia and Japan?”, more than 90% answered “Not even one island can be ceded.”

Situation experts comment that as long as Russia and Japan maintain contrary positions on the territorial issue, the prospect for its settlement is bleak.

For more than half a century, Japan has not admitted the outcome of the World War II, and it is running towards the revival of militarism, still being wedded to its old dream of “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”.

The world is now watching Japan with strict eyes.

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