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Should Russia return the four disputed islands off Hokkaido to Japan?

32 Comments
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"Should": yes. "Will": no.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Why? They stole them fair and square over 70 years ago.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Square, but not fair.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

borscht: "They stole them fair and square over 70 years ago."

Spoils of war, and the war was not over.

No, they should not give them back. Even if they were Japan's for a while after Japan took them in the first place, they are not now. They are lived on and administered by Russia, and have been for over 70 years. Japan has had chances to get some back but scoffed, so, not getting them back is the fruit of their scoffing.

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

@smithinjapan

You really never learn do you.

The border line between Russia and Japan which clearly stated that the four islands were Japan sovereign territory was signed peacefully in 1855 under the Shimoda Treaty.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Spoils of war is pure BS.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

These Islands should be returned to the Owners, the Japanese, the Russians like so many other Criminal Activities they have participated in now who really owns these Islands. The Japanese own these Island not the Russian Convicts!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Russia has no reason to, so I don't see why anyone thinks this is going to happen

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

The border line between Russia and Japan which clearly stated that the four islands were Japan sovereign territory was signed peacefully in 1855 under the Shimoda Treaty.

You do remember that tidbit of history known to most as WWII.

...Where Hiroshima & Nagasaki were bombed & Russia too the 4 northern isles.....

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Yes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Losing them would mean a tougher access to the pacific for russia, etc

Hoping a compromise can be reached.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

yeah, to be honest all those territories seized by the Russian Empire-turned Soviet Union were once orginally part of Japan and Manchuria, aka Qing dynasty era China.. Those Russians will never return land they seized, nor bother cultivating them economically... so in a hypothetical future war involving US-Russia, maybe the Japanese and Chinese can seize that opportunity to take back what was once theirs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Soviets violated non-hostile treaty with Japanese Imperial Army back in 1939, and Soviets ,as an another example of disregard for whatever international standards or pieces of paper anyone signs, attacking Japan AFTER the nuclear bombardment, and backstabbing them without any honour. While doing so was a condition of Yalta Conference from Roosevelt, there was no condition of stealing the islands from Japan. Soviets never played fairly and cared about basic human decency until the very end.

Russia, by being uncooperative and not acknowledging the former, is simply showing that the legacy of Soviet way of doing things runs deep in the blood of modern Russia. But then again, if Japan really wanted to solve this, they would have agreed to 2:2 islands deal.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Putin has Abe bent over trousers down to his ankles banging away and enjoying every second,,, there is really nothing Putin wants right now that Abe can offer,,,

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Borders has been moved between the scandinavian countries; Norway, Sweden and Denmark for centuries! We don`t complain, we move on and reconcile! The world faces greater issues than a couple of islands from over 70 years back in time! In war, there are no rules!!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Thinking was return of the four islands was a token of peace, leading to full recognition of Japan as a sovereign nation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No, as much as it would be morally correct to say yes, the fact is that Russia has invested time, people, and money to the area. Returning the islands to Japan would destabilize all of that. The best situation would be for Japan and Russia to come to an agreement on revenue sharing on resources, Russian protection of the area, and visa free travel for Japanese citizens to the area.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

GW May. 2 11:23 am JST

The border line between Russia and Japan which clearly stated that the four islands were Japan sovereign territory was signed peacefully in 1855 under the Shimoda Treaty.

You do remember that tidbit of history known to most as WWII.

...Where Hiroshima & Nagasaki were bombed & Russia too the 4 northern isles.....

Perhaps you should study WWII a little more. Once Japan declared acceptance of "Unconditional Surrender" the Allied powers no longer continued to invade Japan.

EXCEPT for the USSR which invaded and occupied the 4 islands which had been Japanese by peaceful treaty since 1855, not taken by greed or force or during WWII.

The Cairo Declaration states "The Cairo Declaration was issued on 27 November 1943 and released in a Cairo Communiqué through radio on 1 December 1943,[3] stating the Allies' intentions to continue deploying military force until Japan's unconditional surrender. The main clauses of the Cairo Declaration are that the three great allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan, they covet no gain for themselves and won't involve themselves in territorial expansion wars after the conflict, "Japan be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the First World War in 1914..."

For this reason the United States, the UK and the European Parliament consider these 4 islands to be Japanese territory under occupation/administration by Russia.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Oh. This topic. Again. OK. This time the question is SHOULD. The answer is yes. Just yes. You can have your "how many angels on the head of a pin" arguments about how to interpret history, agreements, etc. It all does not amount to much.

What seems abundantly clear is that the islands are worthless, or worse than worthless, to Russia. I won't accept that there are some rich resources that Japan absolutely needs for this or that reason, and I certainly won't accept that Russia needs a few extra rocks when it has huge expanses of any old kind of land it wants. I have said it before on this site:

Russia has a rusty 64 Buick with a bunch of dumb yokels in it, and it wants Japan to pay top dollar for it.

Go use GoogleMaps. SEVENTY YEARS and the place looks worse than Kentucky or Mississippi in the worst zip codes. Shacks. Hovels. And I am still right. SHOULD Russia give the islands back? Of course. At the very least, Russia won't have to subsidize these people living in shacks on the edge of civilization anymore. There is also every reason to expect that Japan will be able to do more with the islands than Russia has in the last 70 years. Japan is also likely to free up some of its abundant capital to develop some projects that Russia might like. It could open a new era of Siberian prosperity for Russia.

But the question is SHOULD. And Russia won't listen to reason. It will watch as the value of the islands dwindles to nothing. Japan will eventually get the islands for nothing or next to nothing. Every day that Russia does not make a deal is just one less day that somebody can do something useful with those islands.

SHOULD Russia return the islands? Of course. SHOULD Japan accept them? Now THAT is a debatable question.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Russia has invested time, people, and money to the area. Returning the islands to Japan would destabilize all of that. "

This is laughable. LOOK at them. Go ahead. If you really think that Russia has done anything more than throw a bone to these yokels over the last 70 years, just go look at them and report back to us. Seriously. This is like saying that Russia deserves Afghanistan because of all the "investment" that the Soviets did when they invaded.

If you have ever been to the border of San Diego San Ysidro and Tijuana, you will get a good idea of the difference between Etorofu, Kunashiri and Hokkaido. Maybe Russia has made its "best efforts" to develop the islands, but go have a look at what Russia's best efforts look like. Albania managed to do better.

Japan could dump 100 billion into developing the islands next week. Russia has spent what looks like 19.95 since the 1960s improving those islands.

In fact, let's use this to enlighten ourselves a little bit about the value of the islands. If the islands are REALLY so valuable to Russia, why don't they invest more in them? One would think that with all those wonderful resources, they would be the jewel in Russia's crown. But no. Russia makes the bare minimum of effort to pay a bunch of lazy drunkards to play ping pong there year round. And if Japan REALLY needed those "resources," then putting a monetary value on them would be no problem at all. It would be a practical matter of just paying the money and moving forward.

This "value" thing is a red herring put forth by nationalists on both sides just to get people to care about these rocks that nobody should care about.

Please try some other argument.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The location of the Islands is what makes them so important to Russia.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I pray the whole Karafuto Prefecture/Sakhalin Oblast is handed over to Japan. Not just the southern Kuriles.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"The location of the Islands is what makes them so important to Russia."

Another old saw that won't cut the mustard! Keep em coming!

Think about that one people. Pretty vague, isn't it? Please someone tell me why these rocks in the ocean are more important than Poland, East Germany, Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and all the OTHER territory that Russia decided was just too much trouble to hang onto. Oh right LOCATION! Because they are in the Pacific, next to Japan. Please tell me why, in this age of satellites, sonar that can listen for hundreds of kilometers, and spy boats and submarines that Russia NEEDS these islands to keep an eye on Japan: that mighty warrior state that is always up to no good. There are no ports to speak of on any of the four islands. There are no missile bases or submarine bases or anything. Russia already has borders or neighboring islands with EVERY nation in the region.

Oh. But RESOURCES! Of course! But Russia has huge fishing areas already in the Pacific, and it can venture out into international waters to catch more... and sell the fish to the Japanese. It does not need more fishing grounds or territory by any means. It can't develop the better resources it already HAS. But oh oh... the natural gas! How could we forget? Except that the natural gas resources are up at Sakhalin, not on these four islands, and I am not sure if you got the memo, but the world can't even use the natural gas that Russia is ALREADY producing. Japan does not need more, and neither does Russia. Japan can buy it cheaper than it could produce it anyway.

Sorry. The size of the islands does not automatically make them valuable. The location does not make them valuable. The "improvements" Russia has made to them are Cold War era concrete blockhouses and tumble down shacks. Tourism, gas, fish... manganese nodules, hydrates, I have heard it all and none of it makes any sense. As I said, nationalists on both sides are DESPERATE to find some reason that these islands are valuable, and they aren't.

Have you been there? Do you know anyone who has? When was the last time you complained about the price of ANY RESOURCE those islands could possibly offer? What does all of this say to a reasonable person? The islands are worthless to Russia. They are probably worthless to Japan, too. We have abundant evidence for the first statement. We have less for the second, but they are probably both true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Russia is to give them back then Japan needs to forget any claim it feels it has on the Senkaku Islands. Both stolen at time of war though decades apart...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The sea around these islands used to be a source of Konbu kelp, sea urchins, etc., stuff for the Japanese dinner table. The Japanese fishing families who lived there for generations can still find many of their houses and gardens and most of their family graves still there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Geoff Gillespie

For your information Senkaku was not spoils of war and was not obtained through the Shimonoseki treaty but were claimed after 10 years research that the isles were Terra nullius in 1895.

And before you start foaming, China was in a state of Haijin or sea ban restricting private maritime trading and coastal settlement during most of the Ming dynasty and some of the Qing dynasty so they didn't know and more importantly administer islands 200 Km away from their shores at that time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think they should just hug it out and share.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And after Russia gives the islands to Japan, Japan can then give them and the whole of Hokkaido back to the Ainu people. And while we're at it, Japan can give Ryukyu its independence again. Talk about having your cake and eat it!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Everyone should hug it out and share (communism is good). Too bad the current humanity advancement level still makes it crave to fleeting materialism, as if it was simply an animal species. When the time comes, truths will be understood and hands will be joined. What has to happen before the time comes, and what had better not, is our reality now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Triring May. 4 07:18 pm JST

Geoff Gillespie

For your information Senkaku was not spoils of war and was not obtained through the Shimonoseki treaty but were claimed after 10 years research that the isles were Terra nullius in 1895.

They were administered by China up until the end of the first Sino Japanese war in 1985, a war that Japan won. Isn't that the very epitome of spoils of war?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gotta agree with Tamarama. Hug it out and share!

Besides that, NO! They should not return them. It is the spoils of war. You lost a war that you started and that is what what happens when you do so. You run the risk of losing what you have. They took them over. It does not matter that you had given up or this treaty or that one. It's 70 years ago. They have been in Russian control for 70 years now. People live there now. What should happen? They should be uprooted? No, heck no. Get over it. Stop whining about it. You are tired of listening to Asian countries whining about what you did to them, and I am tired of listening to you whine about the islands as I am sure many are. And I seriously doubt that you would return them if you had taken them as well, so there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They were administered by China up until the end of the first Sino Japanese war in 1985, a war that Japan won.

That is the problem, there are no proof that China had ever administered them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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