The history of the Kuril problem

The disputes over the four South Kuril Islands, which currently belong to the Russian Federation, have been going on for quite some time. As a result of agreements and wars signed at different times, this land passed from hand to hand several times. Currently, these islands are the cause of the unresolved territorial dispute between Russia and Japan.

Discovery of islands

The question of opening the Kuril Islands is controversial. According to the Japanese side, the Japanese were the first to set foot on island land in 1644. The map of that time with the notation “Kunashiri”, “Etorofu” and others printed on it was carefully preserved in the National Museum of Japan stories. But the Japanese pioneers, the Japanese believe, first came to the Kuril chain only in the time of Tsar Peter I, in 1711, and on the Russian map of 1721, these islands are called the “Japanese Islands”.

But in reality the situation is different: first, the first information about the Kuriles (from the Ainu language - “kuru” means “a person who came out of nowhere”) was received by the Japanese from the local people of the Ainu (the oldest non-Japanese population of the Kuriles and the Japanese islands) Hokkaido in 1635 year. And the Japanese themselves did not make it to the Kuril lands themselves due to constant conflicts with the local population.

It should be noted that the Ainu were hostile to the Japanese, and the Russians were initially treated well, considering them to be their “brothers”, because of the similarity in the appearance and methods of communication between Russians and small nations.

Secondly, the Kuril Islands was discovered by the Dutch expedition of Maarten Gerritsen de Vries (Vries) in 1643, the Dutch were looking for so-called. "Golden Lands". The Dutch did not like the land, and they sold a detailed description of them, a map to the Japanese. It was on the basis of Dutch data that the Japanese made their maps.

Thirdly, the Japanese at that time did not own not only the Kuriles, but even Hokkaido, only on its southern part was their stronghold. The Japanese began the conquest of the island at the beginning of the 17 century, and the struggle against the Ainu went on for two centuries. That is, if the Russians were interested in expansion, then Hokkaido could become a Russian island. This was facilitated by the good attitude of the Ainu towards the Russians and their hostility towards the Japanese. There are records about this fact. The Japanese state of that time did not officially consider itself a sovereign not only of Sakhalin and the Kuril lands, but also of Hokkaido (Matsumae), as the head of the Japanese government Matsudaira confirmed in his circular letter during the Russian-Japanese border and trade talks in 1772.

Fourth, Russian explorers visited the islands before the Japanese. In the Russian state, the first mention of the Kuril lands refers to 1646, when Nekhoroshko Ivanovich Kolobov gave an account to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich about the campaigns of Ivan Yuryevich Moskvitin and told about bearded Ainas inhabiting the Kurils. In addition, the first Russian settlements in the Kuriles of the time are reported in the Dutch, Scandinavian and Germanic medieval chronicles and maps. The first reports of the Kuril lands and their inhabitants reached the Russians in the middle of the XVII century.

In 1697, during the expedition of Vladimir Atlasov to Kamchatka, new information about the islands appeared, the Russians explored the islands to Simushir (an island of the middle group of the Great Kuril Islands).

XVIII century

Peter I knew about the Kuril Islands, in 1719, the king sent a secret expedition to Kamchatka under the leadership of Ivan Mikhailovich Evreinov and Fyodor Fedorovich Luzhin. The marine surveyor Evreinov and the surveyor-cartographer Luzhin had to determine whether there is a strait between Asia and America. The expedition reached Simushir Island in the south and swore the locals and rulers to the Russian state.

In 1738-1739, the explorer Martyn Petrovich Shpanberg (Dane by origin) walked along the entire Kuril ridge, plotted all the islands encountered, including the entire Malaya Kuril ridge (these are 6 of large islands and a number of small islands that are separated from the Great Kuril South ridge -Kuril Strait). He explored the land up to Hokkaido (Matsumai), swearing in local Ainu rulers to the Russian state.

Later, the Russians avoided sailing to the southern islands, settling in the northern territories. Unfortunately, at this time there were abuses against the Ainu, not only by the Japanese, but also by the Russians.

In 1771, the Small Kuril Ridge was withdrawn from Russia and passed under the protectorate of Japan. To correct the situation, the Russian authorities sent a nobleman Antipin with a translator Shabalin. They were able to persuade the Ainu to restore Russian citizenship. In the 1778-1779 years, the Russian envoys brought more than 1,5 thousand people from Iturup, Kunashir, and even Hokkaido into citizenship. In 1779, Catherine II freed those who accepted Russian citizenship from all taxes.

In 1787, in the “Spacious Land Painting of the Russian State ...” a list of the Kuril Islands up to Hokkaido-Matsumai was given, whose status has not yet been determined. Although the Russians did not control the lands south of the island of Urup, the Japanese were active there.

In 1799, by decree of seyi-taysegun Tokugawa Ienari, he headed the Shogunat Tokugawa, two outposts were built on Kunashir and Iturup, and permanent garrisons were stationed there. Thus, the Japanese military method secured the status of these territories as part of Japan.

The history of the Kuril problem

Space image of the Small Kuril Ridge


In 1845, the Japanese Empire unilaterally announced its authority over all Sakhalin and the Kuril ridge. This naturally caused a violent negative reaction from the Russian emperor Nicholas I. But, the Russian Empire did not have time to take measures, prevented by the events of the Crimean War. Therefore, it was decided to make concessions and not bring the matter to war.

7 February The first diplomatic agreement between Russia and Japan was concluded on 1855 - Shimoda agreement. He was signed by Vice-Admiral E. V. Putiatin and Tosiakira Kawaji. According to the 9 article of the treatise, "a permanent peace and sincere friendship between Russia and Japan" was established. Japan moved the islands away from Iturup and to the south, Sakhalin was declared a joint, indivisible possession. Russian in Japan received consular jurisdiction, Russian ships received the right to enter the ports of Shimoda, Hakodate, and Nagasaki. The Russian empire received the most favored treatment in trade with Japan and received the right to open consulates in the open ports of Russia. That is, on the whole, especially considering the difficult international position of Russia, the treaty can be assessed positively. Since 1981, the Japanese have been celebrating the day of the signing of the Simoda Treaty as the “Day of the Northern Territories”.

It should be noted that in fact the Japanese got the right to the “Northern Territories” only for “permanent peace and sincere friendship between Japan and Russia”, the most favored mode in trade relations. Their further actions de facto annulled this agreement.

Initially, the Shimoda agreement on joint ownership of Sakhalin Island was more beneficial for the Russian Empire, which was actively colonizing the territory. The Japanese empire did not have a good fleet, so at that time it did not have such an opportunity. But later the Japanese began to intensively settle the territory of Sakhalin, and the question of its ownership began to become more and more controversial and acute. The contradictions between Russia and Japan were resolved by the signing of the St. Petersburg Treaty.

St. Petersburg Treaty. It was signed in the capital of the Russian Empire on April 25 (May 7) 1875. Under this agreement, the Japanese Empire transferred Sakhalin to Russia in full ownership, and in exchange received all the islands of the Kuril Ridge.

St. Petersburg Treaty of 1875 (Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan).

As a result of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and Portsmouth Peace Treaty 23 August (5 September) 1905, the Russian Empire, according to the 9 article of the agreement, ceded the south of Sakhalin to Japan, south of 50 degrees north latitude. The 12 article was an agreement to conclude a Japanese fishing convention along the Russian shores of the Sea of ​​Japan, the Sea of ​​Okhotsk and the Bering Sea.

After the death of the Russian Empire and the beginning of foreign intervention, the Japanese occupied North Sakhalin, participated in the occupation of the Far East. When the Bolshevik Party won the Civil War, Japan did not want to recognize the USSR for a long time. Only after the Soviet authorities in 1924 annulled the status of the Japanese consulate in Vladivostok and in the same year the USSR recognized the United Kingdom, France and China, did the Japanese authorities decide to normalize relations with Moscow.

Beijing Treaty. 3 February The official negotiations of the USSR and Japan began in Beijing in 1924. Only 20 January 1925 was signed the Soviet-Japanese Convention on the basic principles of relations between countries. The Japanese pledged to 15 May 1925, to withdraw their forces from the territory of Northern Sakhalin. The declaration of the USSR government, which was attached to the convention, emphasized that the Soviet government did not share with the former government of the Russian Empire political responsibility for signing the Portsmouth Peace Treaty of 1905. In addition, the convention enshrined the agreement of the parties that all agreements concluded between Russia and Japan before 7 November 1917 of the year, treaties and conventions, except for the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, should be revised.

In general, the USSR made big concessions: in particular, Japanese nationals, companies and associations were granted the rights to exploit natural raw materials throughout the entire Soviet Union. 22 July 1925 of the year a contract was signed for the coal concession to the Japanese Empire, and 14 of December 1925 of the year the oil concession on North Sakhalin was signed. Moscow agreed to this agreement in order to stabilize the situation in the Russian Far East in this way, since the Japanese supported the White Guards outside the USSR. But in the end, the Japanese began to systematically violate the convention, create conflict situations.

In the course of the Soviet-Japanese negotiations, which took place in the spring of 1941 on the occasion of the conclusion of a neutrality agreement, the Soviet side raised the question of liquidating Japan’s concessions on northern Sakhalin. The Japanese gave their written consent to this, but they delayed the implementation of the agreement during 3 years. Only when the USSR began to prevail over the Third Reich, did the Japanese government fulfill the agreement given earlier. Thus, 30 in March 1944 in Moscow signed a Protocol on the destruction of Japanese oil and coal concessions on North Sakhalin and the transfer to the Soviet Union of all Japanese concession property.

11 February 1945 year at the Yalta Conference the three great powers — the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom — reached an oral agreement on the entry of the USSR into the war with the Japanese empire on the terms of its return to Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Ridge after World War II.

In the Potsdam Declaration from 26 on July 1945, it was said that Japanese sovereignty would be limited only to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and other smaller islands, which would indicate the winning countries. The Kuril Islands were not mentioned.

After the defeat of Japan, January 29, 1946, by Memorandum No. 677, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Powers, American General Douglas MacArthur excluded the Chisima Islands (the Kuril Islands), the Khabomadze Islands (Habomai), and Sikotan (Shikotan) Islands from Japanese territory.

According to San Francisco Peace Treaty from 8 September 1951, the Japanese side waived all rights to South Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. But the Japanese claim that Iturup, Shikotan, Kunashir and Habomai (the islands of the Small Kuril Ridge) were not part of the Chisima Islands (the Kuril Islands) and they did not refuse them.

Negotiations in Portsmouth (1905) - from left to right: from the Russian side (the furthest part of the table) - Plunson, Nabokov, Witte, Rosen, Korostovets.

Further agreements

Joint declaration. October 19 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan adopted a Joint Declaration. The document stopped the state of war between the countries and restored diplomatic relations, and also spoke of Moscow’s consent to the transfer of the Japanese side to the islands of Habomai and Shikotan. But they should have been transferred only after the signing of a peace treaty. However, Japan was later forced to refuse to sign a peace treaty with the USSR. The United States threatened the Japanese not to give up Okinawa and the entire Ryukyu archipelago if they abandoned their claims to the other islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge.

After Tokyo signed an Agreement on Interaction and Security with Washington in January 1960, extending the American military presence on the Japanese islands, Moscow said it was refusing to consider transferring the islands to the Japanese side. The statement was justified by the issue of security of the USSR and China.

In 1993, the year was signed Tokyo Declaration about the Russian-Japanese relations. It said that the Russian Federation is the assignee of the USSR and recognizes the 1956 agreement of the year. Moscow has expressed willingness to begin negotiations on the territorial claims of Japan. In Tokyo, it was rated as a sign of the coming victory.

In 2004, the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, made a statement that Moscow recognizes the 1956 Declaration of the Year and is ready to negotiate a peace treaty based on it. In the 2004-2005 years, this position was confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the Japanese insisted on the transfer of 4 islands, so the issue was not resolved. Moreover, the Japanese gradually increased their pressure, so, in 2009, the head of the Japanese government at a government meeting called the Little Kuril chain "illegally occupied territories". In 2010-the beginning of 2011, the Japanese were so “enraged” that some military experts began to talk about the possibility of a new Russian-Japanese war. Only the spring natural disaster - the consequences of a tsunami and a terrible earthquake, the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant - cooled Japan’s ardor.

As a result, loud statements by the Japanese led to the fact that Moscow declared that the islands are the territory of the Russian Federation legally following the Second World War, this is enshrined in the UN Charter. And Russian sovereignty over the Kuriles, which has the relevant international legal confirmation, is beyond doubt. Plans were also announced for developing the economy of the islands and strengthening Russia's military presence there.

Strategic importance of the islands

- The economic factor. The islands are economically underdeveloped, but there are deposits of valuable and rare-earth metals on them - gold, silver, rhenium, titanium. The waters are rich in bioresources, the seas that wash the shores of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands are among the most productive areas of the World Ocean. Of great importance are the shelves where hydrocarbon deposits are found.

- The political factor. The concession of the islands will sharply lower the status of Russia in the world, there will be a legal opportunity to reconsider other results of the Second World War. For example, they may demand to give the Kaliningrad region of Germany or part of Karelia in Finland.

- The military factor. The transfer of the islands of the South Kuril ridge will provide the Navy of Japan and the USA free access to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. It will allow our potential adversaries to exercise control over strategically important pouring zones, which will sharply worsen the capabilities of the deployment of the forces of the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Federation, including nuclear submarines with intercontinental ballistic missiles. This will be a strong blow to the military security of the Russian Federation.

Ctrl Enter

Noticed a mistake Highlight text and press. Ctrl + Enter

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in