" />
Published On: Tue, Jan 12th, 2016

Russia Continues Confronting Japan with De Facto Annexation of Disputed Islands

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Moscow continues the military reinforcement of the Russian Kuril Islands as well as the de facto annexation of the occupied Japanese islands Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai Archipelago under the guise of cultural and economic development of what Russia describes as its “South Kuril Islands”. 

LavrovRussian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday that Moscow plans to complete the development of military facilities in the arctic islands as well as “infrastructure developments” in the Kuril Islands in 2016. Shoigu said:

“Basically, it is necessary to complete everything on the islands. Then we proceed to the second stage of the construction and creation of our bases in the Arctic. … This year we should complete the formation of the whole infrastructure on the Kuril Islands.”  

Russia is, along with the United States, the USA, Canada, Norway and others scrambling for resources in the Arctic as a warmer climate has made both shipping routes and resources in the region accessible. Russia has, as have others, legal territorial claims in the increasingly attractive, although harsh Arctic region.

Moscow’s “cultural development” of what Russian diplomats like to designate as Russia’s South Kuril Islands is, however, legally questionable and disputed by Japan. The so-called South Kuril Islands consist of three islands located in the North of Japan, or the southwestern extremity of the Kuril Islands, as Moscow designated the disputed territory. They include the islands of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan as well as the Habomai archipelago.

Kuril_Northerm territories_Japan_RussiaIn August 2015 the otherwise skillful Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov displayed what was widely perceived as an unusual display of arrogance and victor’s justice when he commented on the Japanese government’s objections about Russia’s “social and cultural development” of the occupied territories, saying:

“Unacceptable comments from Japan on the trips by Russian government officials to the Southern Kuril Islands have come again recently. … We would like to recall we do not plan taking account of the Japanese government members’ opinions as we arrange the itineraries for members of the government. These trips, including the one that government officials make as part of a federal program for social and economic development of the Kuril Islands (the Sakhalin region), will continue. … We are compelled to state that the Japanese side is again demonstrating overtly its negligence of the commonly recognized results of World War II as it multiplies publicly its ungrounded claims to the Southern Kuril Islands. … Such actions look particularly deplorable on the background of the forthcoming 70th anniversary since the end of World War II.”

It is noteworthy that Russia, 70 years after the end of WW II still has not signed a peace treaty with Japan and that Moscow continues dragging its feet in that regard. Several independent analysts noted that Moscow uses the prospect of a peace treaty – or lack thereof – to blackmail Japan rather than settling the dispute legally and in accordance with intentional and human rights law.

Japan does not recognize the Russian occupation or annexation of what Tokyo describes as Japan’s northern territories. Tokyo considers Moscow’s so-called program for social and economic development as an attempt to change the demographics and to lay the foundations for a permanent, arguably illegal annexation.

CH/L – nsnbc 12.01.2016

Related analysis:

G-4 – An Asian and European Peace with Enemy States?
Russia Invites Foreign Partners To Develop Occupied Japanese Islands

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

Displaying 12 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Nick Broadhurst says:

    The Russian grab for the islands in the last three days of WW2 was not unexpected. However, their current play to continue to pretend these islands are Russian is just stupid Geopolitics. The islands are natively Japanese and should be allocated back to Japan, or made some kind of midway island that neither have, but jointly administer, if a buffer zone is wanted. I think this stains the otherwise excellent record of the current Russian government.

  2. hp says:

    I suggest Mr. Putin be reasonable and sensible. Something he seemingly always is, via an innate intelligence and default discipline.

    A normal, unbiased person, looking at a map, can see very easily the “South Kuril Islands” are Japanese.
    Period. It just is.. The same normal, unbiased person could also fairly easily arrive at a dividing line as per the Kuril Islands. This, with simply a cursory glance.
    Governments do employ hordes of scientists, lawyers and political errand boys, do they not? Have those bureaucrats, and their bureaucrat babysitters, earn their money for a change. By arriving at a agreed upon logical, reasonable line.

    As it is now, early 2016, Mr. Putin is obviously, and for good reason, The most respected world leader. The increasingly pathetic undemocratic EU are mere lackeys of the undemocratic American Gangsters, as well as debt servants to and for the Central Banksters (aka) ‘you know who.’

    The US has been retarded to a Tony Soprano foreign (and domestic) policy, the FBI is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and the CIA? Well, those three letters alone are .. “nuff said”

    Mr. Putin, the world is watching you, again and again.
    Do the right thing. Give the Japanese their South Kurils and then decide on where to draw that line.

  3. ThomasT says:

    Why should Pres Putin let the Islands go go back to a now US puppy Japan.. and have more US nukes on there.. ready for a first strike. Same as China is now very smartly grabbing the S Ch.Sea Islands as an outer defense perimeter against the insane yanks warmongering.

  4. Paris says:

    “A normal, unbiased person, looking at a map, can see very easily the “South Kuril Islands” are Japanese.”

    A normal, unbiased person, looking at a map, can see very easily the “Malvinas Falkland Islands” are Argentinians.

    A normal, unbiased person, looking at a map, can see very easily the “Jersey french-english channel Islands” are French.

    A normal, unbiased person, looking at a map, can see very easily the “Canary slands” are Moroccan.

    And so on….

    • Jim Scott says:

      Exactly so Paris. Debbie and Nick and HP have one rule for Russia and another for the West. Russia should say that when the USA gets out of Guantanamo and The Marshall Islands and gives back Texas and California to Mexico. And when the British get out of the Falklands and both Britain and the USA stop their illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, that Russia will uphold international law too.
      The West has been trampling on international law for half a century at least. We have no credible basis to point at others.

      • Debbie says:

        You are funny Jim Scott.
        The USA is a permanent UN Security Council member, so is Russia. Non of the UN Security Council members should be allowed to violate international law, period. It’s exactly the type of relativism that you display that is part of the problem. Give it a thought. It’s not a soccer game where you can have a favorite team.

  5. Debbie says:

    Nick – HP – Paris… You seem to miss the most important point in this article. Victor’s justice cannot and should not replace law, regardless who it is that is breaking it. Thanks goodness for at least one newspaper that points it out. Great article and a big mistake by Russia, Big mistake. As to nuclear etc and US puppet comments. They have NOTHING to do with LAW. Besides that, when Russia occupies the islands, where else than to the USA should Japan turn. Give Japan back its sovereignty and it will become a friend to Russia. Just look at the map.

  6. Frank says:

    The Japanese lost them in a war. Why should Russia give them back especially since Japan and the US will build more bases on them even closer to Russia. Japan has lost those islands forever. Get used to it!

  7. Chapeau to the author for this and for the related article. It’s about time that the “exceptionalism” as Putin so eloquently wrote about US foreign policy will be ended for all of the permanent UN Security Council members, Russia included.
    I loved a recent interview with Lehmann on INN World Report where he said that the UN either should be fundamentally reformed, and if that is not possible, it should be abolished. The situation about Russia’s annexation of these Japanese islands is a perfect example for why. The fact that Russia is “less imperialist” than the US is an utterly invalid argument.Sadly, many so-called anti-imperialists a prone to this legal and logical fallacy. Or should we say double standard.

  8. John Revolta says:

    Russia has so much land and Japan so little so in the interests of “burying the hatchet” Russia should give the islands back to Japan. It should be with the exception that there would be no military presence on the islands ever.

  9. The Ryukyu Islands, were an independent kingdom Luchu, that ruled during most of the from the 15th to the 19th century. The kings of Ryukyu unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan. These were ‘given back’ to the Japanese government by the American occupying force during the Viet Nam war to curry favor and base agreement with Japan without a vote of the people. The Okinawan peoples were hard put upon by the Japanese forces and emperor during WWII. Many in that period wished to be independent thus no vote. Taiwan or Formosa was at one time Japanese. The entire Kuril Islands were at one point Japanese possessions. Where in geographical territorial history do you want to go back to?

  10. Phil says:

    John… That promise of no military presence would not be worth the paper it’s written on. Just like the promise that NATO would not expand ‘one inch’ to the east or the US withdrawing from the ABM treaty. Unfortunately, some parties have proven that they cannot be trusted so …..they shouldn’t be trusted.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>