Tokyo published the annual report “Bluebook on diplomacy,” which indicates under whose jurisdiction the southern ridge of the Kuril archipelago should be located: the foreign Ministry considers the “Northern territories” an integral part of Japan.
Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and a group of uninhabited Habomai Islands, called the “Northern territories” by the Japanese, are a sovereign part of Japan, the document says. It is also noted that the Peace Treaty with the Russian Federation will be signed only if all differences regarding territorial issues are resolved.
It is noteworthy that a similar document last year did not mention the sovereign right to the Islands. With this, Tokyo tried to smooth the diplomatic heat with Moscow and direct the Russian-Japanese dialogue in a more constructive direction.
This move brought down criticism of the Japanese authorities from representatives of the ruling liberal democratic party. In their opinion, the lack of precise wording of territorial claims does not contribute to strengthening Tokyo’s position in the negotiation process.
Disputes about the ownership of the Kuril Islands did not subside for decades. Due to significant differences in this issue, both sides have not been able to conclude a peace Treaty to this day.
Japan considers the southern Kuril ridge its own, but the Kremlin insists that Russia’s territorial integrity is not being discussed.
Meanwhile, the Japanese are not going to leave this question open. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this year promised the Parliament to make every effort to return the country’s territorial property under the jurisdiction of Tokyo