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Russia and Japan Set to Sign Treaty Ending World War II

By Justin Ewers 
Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: March 12, 2009 
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FEBRUARY/MARCH 2009 — Talk about a never-ending war. More than 60 years after World War II ended, Russia and Japan have restarted negotiations over a still-unsigned peace treaty that would finally bring a formal end to the war between the two countries. Taro Aso, the new Japanese prime minister, and Dmitry Medvedev, the new Russian president, agreed this fall to take “concrete” measures to address a lingering border dispute caused by the Russian occupation of parts of Japan.

At issue are a series of four islands off the northernmost coast of Japan, which Red Army troops invaded in 1945, after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. The Russians expelled the entire Japanese population of about 17,000 from the volcanic islands—called the Southern Kurils by the Russians and the Northern Territories by the Japanese. Though some of the islanders were eventually allowed to return, the Soviet Union declined to give up ownership of the area. The other Allied powers signed a peace treaty with Japan in 1951, but the Russians, saying the treaty would force them to give the islands back to Japan, refused.

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Ever since then, the mostly unpopulated island chain has been a bone of contention between the two countries; both claim ownership. The dispute is widely considered the reason for low trade activity between Russia and Japan, and tempers still flare around the issue. Last year, the Japanese government required its schoolchildren to be taught that the islands are part of Japan; this drew a rebuke from the Russian foreign minister. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, many Russians have been loath to give up any more territory.

In the last several years, some Japanese politicians, including Aso, who took office last September, have proposed simply dividing the islands into two equal halves. This would leave Japan with three of the smaller islands and a quarter of the largest one. The idea is not very popular in Japan, and the Russians have not yet agreed to such a deal, but it could serve as a jumping-off point for further negotiations.

“We have to define the border otherwise this problem will remain an element of destabilization in the region,” Aso said after a November meeting with his Russian counterpart. Japanese officials believe the Russians are on the same page. “President Medvedev said he has no intention to leave the resolution of the issue to the next generation,” one official said. The issue will be discussed again when Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, visits Japan early this year.


10 Responses to “Russia and Japan Set to Sign Treaty Ending World War II”


  1. 1
    Artur says:

    I say give them back those tiny little islands, Russia has absolutely no need for them. If they made a stupid move like giving Sevostopol, a strategic black sea port city to Ukraine, a city which never in history belonged to Ukraine in the first place then what is the issue with the Kurils. The Japanese make good automobiles and electronics they deserve those islands which were theirs to begin with, and besides they never invaded the USSR in WWII, if they did then Moscow would surely fall. I say make the ChiKoms give up land to Japan, the can't manage it for themselves, I'm sure the Japanese would use it much better. And besides Chinese product are the biggest garbage ever created on Earth, not to mention that they invade whoever they please, and haven't invented anything useful since gunpowder.

  2. 2
    jack turso says:

    Understand that russia didn't enter the war with Japan untill a week before the official surrender to the USA.russia didn't want and invasion from the south prior to that with all they could handle with germany and the usa..The russians expected to grab a piece of japan like they did with germany and half of eastern europe..Mc Arthur told them where to get off
    In final sumation all russia got was Half of korea ,and thats another long long story…No korea no viet nam..two big mistakes.

  3. 3
    Peter says:

    Artur- who do you suggest makes China give up land to Japan? The UN? The USA? Incidentally which countries have China invaded in the past 100 years? A small incursion into Vietnam which ended badly for them, Tibet (which historically was part of China even though I support the Tibetans right to self determination) and a scrap with India over exactly where the border was. Compared to the list of countries invaded and occupied by the USA or USSR in the same hundred years its a pretty short list.

  4. 4
    shogun says:

    Peter-China also attacked and seized 1/3 of Kasmir. China has also attacked fishing vessels/and some military of Indonesia over the disputed South China sea. China has also built fortified positions in the South China Sea to bolden its position of authority there. China also has threatened Mongolia, Japan, Taiwan, Phillipeans, Vietnam, Burma, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Afganistan at various times. China has attacked Vietnam twice, not just once. China routinely fires missles all around the islands of Taiwan. China also rammed a US survailence plane with one of its jets and the crippled US plane had to land in China where the Chinese took the Us plane appart and after a few months returned the pieces to the Americans, after holding the US service men of that airplane hostage for a few weeks.

    Japan lost WW2 and should just accept that fate and get over it. Most citizens on those kuril islands speak Russian now, so there is no attachment to Japan. The kuril islanders also have little to no interaction with Japan anymore, and all Kuril islanders now think of Russia as the sovern country and like it that way, especially now that the USSR is defunct and laws to restrain free enterprise are far less now than Japanese totolitarian laws.

  5. 5
    Chris says:

    Shogun: I'm not sure where to start, China's threats to their neighbours aren't any different from any other major power, including and perhaps especially USA, allthough, they've not threathened Canada or Mexico for quite some time.

    Taiwan is actually China. Taiwaneese regard themselves the true rules of China, the Taiwan islands are part of the Chinese empire, the Chinese goverment uses their military power to attempt to scare Taiwan back into Chinese rule.

    Nepal have had a lot more problems with India than China, but even China have told Nepal to behave. Yes, I could threathen a bully with a beating if he/she didn't behave towards those who are weaker too…

    Why not mention Tibet? Tibet's been occupied by China for quite a while.

    South China Sea has traditionally been under Chinese control, so of course, if Fidel Castro sent military ships close to US territorial waters, and sent his fishing fleet up there, the US would react, arrest ships, attack them if needed.

    For most of the others, it's basically those who would feel threathened by their big, seemingly agressive, neighbour. Afganistan here is a joke, as they've hardly been a sovereign nation for a long long time.

    The US AWACS plane forced down in China was flying over China wthout permission. They actually learned from the technology, US would have shot down the plane, or never told anyone about the planes existance.

    The biggest argument in the area has been between China and the Soviet Union, with long lasting border disputes and incidents.

    The Kuril islanders have no interaction or relations to Japan, whatsoever, since the Soviets deported all the locals to Japan and replaced them with Russians. If this is what should be accepted as a good thing, then by all means, we need to redo the maps of Europe again, since we have areas there in various countries, that by this definiton should belong to other countries. The Mediteranian coast of Spain for instance, should belong mostly to scandinavian countries, since they have a huge population living there, even greater than the indigienous Spanish population.

    Arthur: Sevostopol have never been a Russian city, it was a Soviet city, but it's a part of Ukraine. It would be as if Northern Ireland was to be given it's freedom, but Belfast should be made French…

  6. 6
    Youngearth says:

    Germany does not have a peace treaty yet, either. The 4+2 treaty does not change that, nor the statement that the Federal Republic of Germany would recognize the Oder-Neisse border with Poland and East Prussia with Russia.

    The FRG is not legal successor of the German Reich, but a administrative occupation zone. Both the US supreme court and the German "Constitution" court have admitted that many times.

  7. 7
    Alex Small says:

    I like this article because it shows in depth about what started the conflict and what the parameters are of the negotiations. I am shocked that 60 years was not enough time for this to be resolved. The Second World War was a monumental part of history and it has a lasting impact on society, yet it should not be this large. This treaty should have been figured out and signed many years back. It can’t be good for either country to have left this matter open for so long.

  8. 8
    Fred says:

    The japanese should remember that they have never admitted to any wrong doing in WWII. They still teach their children that the war was caused by everyone else. They have never admitted to or apologized fro any of the atrocities they committed (such as the rape of Nanking). So why are they crying because they lost a few meaningless islands.

  9. 9
    youngearth says:

    Fred,

    it is not only about those few islands.

    Japan, as Germany, are listed as enemy states in the UN Charter. By signing peace treaties between those countries and the United Nations, WW2 officially ends and the UN organization as such will cease to exist.

    It is a military alliance against Germany and her Allies as outlined in the SHAEF laws under definition United Nations.

    Germany (German Reich) still exists, but is occupied by the Allied United Nations. Japan has a semi-autonome new Constitution, which places the US president above the Emperor of Japan.

    While Japanese war crimes need to be addressed, Allied war crimes are left out as long as the UN continues its war efforts through not signing peace treaties. In Germany, only the armed forces capitulated on 5/8/45, not the Reich, which cannot be done under international law. A similar situation is true in Japan. A legal limbo is constructed by not signing the peace treaties and perpetuating WW2, which continues through hate-propaganda and economic plundering.



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