Monday, 1 November 2010

Disputed land

Tension is building up between Japan and Russia after president Medvedev's visit to the Kuril islands. The Kuril islands are around 50 islands outside the eastern coast of Russia and north of Japan. After the Japanese surrender in World War II the Soviet Union annexed the four southernmost islands that previously belonged to Japan. Because of this issue there has been no official peace between Russia/Soviet Union and Japan following WWII. This is however disputed by Japan. In this context Medvedev's visit was a clear sign from Moscow that these islands are to be considered Russian ground and it not up for negotiation. This stop was made on his trip to the meeting of Southeast Asian nations the coming weekend.

Whether or not this should be seen as a sign of a Russian expansionistic and nationalistic movement is still unclear. The San Francisco Peace Treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan from 1951 states that Japan must give up all claims to the Kuril islands, but it also does not recognize the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the Kuril Islands.

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