Jeremy Luedi is the editor of True North Far East, a blog chronicling Sino-Canadian relations.

His writing has been featured in Business Insider, Courrier International, FACTA Magazine, The Japan Times, The Diplomat and Asia Times, among others.


Japan, Russia and the Kurile Islands: Federal Intransigence & Sub-national Pragmatism

The Soviet occupation of the Kurile Islands and the Sakhalin peninsula at the end of WWI set in motion a legacy of strained Russo-Japanese relations which continues until the present day. Japan has sought to negotiate on the status of the islands, demanding that they be returned. Both countries maintain that they have sovereignty over the islands, with this nebulous situation stemming in part from the actual text of the treaty which Japan signed in San Francisco in 1951. The San Francisco Peace Treaty officially ended WWII, yet the Soviet Union was not party to the treaty citing, among reason, the fact that it did not recognize its control over the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin.

The treaty text itself is nebulous for it states that “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands, and to the portion of Sakhalin and the island's adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of September 5th 1905.”1 The treaty text has two main problems. The first is that it does not explicitly state which country Japan is ceding control of the islands to, and secondly it does not clearly define which islands are meant by the term “Kurile Islands”.2 The uncertainty concerning the what the term actually entails can be seen in the two divergent naming conventions employed by Russia and Japan. Russia refers to the four islands as the Southern Kuriles, thereby drawing links to the 1951 treaty and implying that they in fact constitute part of the ceded area.

Conversely Japan has prohibited the use of the term “Southern Kuriles” and had long adopted a policy of officially recognizing the islands as the Northern Territories.3 This paper shall chart the tumultuous history of Russo-Japanese relations concerning the island dispute; focusing on the period of 2000-2013. Specifically this paper aims to demonstrate the inconsistent nature of Japanese policy making as well as the aggressive shift in Russian rhetoric during this time. Together with highlighting the deadlock at the federal level, this paper will highlight the close sub-national economic and cultural connections which have developed and been maintained irrespective of the changing bellicosity at the federal level.

Unexpected Wartime Legacy

The end of WWII saw the Soviet occupation of the Kuriles Islands and Sakhalin, yet few would have initially thought that its would continue to maintain control over the area for the next seventy-plus years. During the 1950s it appeared as if the islands may indeed be returned, with the Soviet Union negotiating with Japan. Specifically from 1955 to 1956, Japan and Russia engaged in a seventeen month long negotiation session, where the Japanese government sough the return of all four of the islands.4 

Whereas no agreement was reached, the 1956 Joint Declaration stated that the islands of Habomai and Shikotan would be returned to Japan upon the completion of peace treaty between the two countries. In 1957 the USSR removed some 2000 Soviet residents from Habomai and Shikotan who had been settled on the island – following the expulsion of the previous Japanese population in the years after the war – in preparation for their handover to Japan.5 Such actions seem to hint that the USSR was willing to negotiate on the Kurile issue, especially since it was trying to improve relations with Japan, in efforts to entice it out of the U.S. sphere of control. Despite these initial positive steps, Russo-Japanese relation soured significantly in 1960 when Tokyo renewed its alliance with the United States.

In retaliation for Japan's renewal of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty in 1960, the Soviet Union added as a further condition for the return of Habomai and Shikotan the withdrawal of all foreign armies from Japanese territory. In response, Japan asserted that it would persist in demanding the return not only of the Habomai and Shikotan islands but of all territories which inherently belong to Japan. The two countries were not diametrically opposed.6 In response to Japan's assertions, the USSR reversed its previous decision to vacate the Habomai and Shikotan, sending 1500 citizens to Shikotan in 1960.7 These actions made it apparent to Japan that “the cost of Yoshida's acceptance of the U.S. sponsored peace-treaty was to leave an outstanding legacy of territorial disputes which remain as a thorn in bilateral relations.”8

During the Cold War, little to no progress occurred as the Soviet Union and Japan found themselves on opposite sides of the global divide. While relations had in large part normalized, both parties still lacked a peace treaty, thereby greatly limiting the scope of their bilateral trades. Following the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s, the new Russian government was seen by Japan as a more cooperative dialogue partner, and a wave of new initiatives were launched by Tokyo. During an unofficial visit in 1990 Boris Yeltsin (then Supreme Soviet Deputy of the RSFSR) tabled a five-stage proposal aimed at solving the territorial issue over 15-20 year period. These five steps were headed by Yeltsin officially declaring that Moscow acknowledges the existence of the territorial issue. 

Japan Sees Opening as USSR Falls

This first step was an important one, for Yeltsin became the first senior Soviet politician to acknowledge this point. The second through fourth points called for the Kurile islands to be designated as a Russo-Japanese joint free-enterprise zone, to demilitarize the area and to sign a peace-treaty. The fifth point called for the details of territorial transfer to be deferred to a new generation.9 This deferral is of importance, because the 21st century would see Russia and Japan temper their conciliatory overtones as nationalist rhetoric on both sides increasingly dominated. By seeking deferral, Yeltsin sought to avoid short-term conflict and strife, yet this action may have seen one of the best periods for Japan to regain the islands slip by, and help lay the foundations for future discord.

In 1993 Yeltsin and Japanese Prime-minister Hosokawa signed the Tokyo Declaration which formally reiterated many of the points tabled by Yeltsin in 1990. The Tokyo Declaration also included additions such as changing the order in which the islands were mentioned, beginning with the ones closest to Japan first, thereby creating language that was more beneficial to Japan. Furthermore the declaration removed any discrepancies in the interpretations of the scope of territory under debate, acknowledging the Kurile Island issue pertains to all four islands.  

Lastly the declaration also indirectly acknowledged the validity of the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Declaration as the starting point for negotiations.10 Continued progress and mutual understanding continued during Yeltsin's tenure, and in 1997 PM Ryutaro Hashimoto stated that “as for relations with Russia, I will further promote dialogue and cooperation with the country in various fields. I will continue my efforts for settlement of the northern territorial dispute based on the Tokyo Declaration and for complete normalization of relations by concluding a peace treaty.”11 The following year Hashimoto and Yeltsin met for a “no-necktie” meeting in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

This meeting saw the creation of the Hashimoto-Yeltsin plan which was a bilateral commitment to resolve the issue by the year 2000. 1998 also saw the Kawona Summit where Hashimoto suggested that the two countries adopt a staggered approach, one in which Russia would transfer the islands to Japan, yet retain transitional administrative rights; with the actual time-line for the transfer to be left to future generations. Yeltsin in turn stated that he was very optimistic, and that such a proposal was “worthy of serious consideration.”12

The Yeltsin years saw both countries engage in meaningful ways and make efforts to peacefully end the dispute. During the last years of the 20th century, Russia and Japan agreed to a joint framework to ensure the safe operation of Japanese fishing vessels around the Kurile Islands, Russian citizens of the islands were given visa-free entry and in 1999 Russia allowed former Japanese residents to make visa-free trips to the islands.13 With the dawn of the new millennium, there appeared to be significant promise that a break-through on the issue could be achieved.

Putin Moves from Disinterest to the Negotiating Table

In 2000 Vladimir Putin came to power, and while he initially demonstrated little interest in resolving the Kurile issue,14 by early 2001, Japan noted a softening of Putin's position vis-à-vis territorial transfers.15 In March 2001, Putin and PM Mori issued the Irkutsk Joint Statement which formally acknowledged the 1956 Declaration as the starting point for any future negotiations.16 2002 again saw Russia repeatedly mention the Kurile issue and make statements calling for a cooperative atmosphere and dialogue. For instance On March 12th 2002, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stated that

As you are aware, we do not have a border that has been set by an internationally recognized treaty. With Tokyo we do not have a peace-treaty either. Therefore, these questions naturally constitute important parts of our negotiations with Japan...we must acknowledge that the so called problem of border demarcation is and will be an existing hindrance to the development of full-blooded cooperation between Russia and Japan.” [In October 2002, Putin went even further, using very emotional language, stating]...that problems remain from the past, and that we do not have a peace treaty, is truly sad and loathsome, indeed painful and regrettable. It is something that both countries need to work together to resolve.17

This cooperative and conciliatory tone persists from the Russian side during the first half of the 2000s. Indeed the Russian position evolved to such a degree that

By late 2004, Putin had progressed form invoking the validity of the Joint Declaration to proposing directly the transfer of Habomai and Shikotan to Japan. If...Putin's offer represented the launch of a trial balloon designed to gauge Tokyo's reaction ahead of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2005, it achieved its basic objective. However, apart from presenting itself as taking the initiative in territorial negotiations, Moscow accomplished very little in concrete terms as the Japanese government rejected Putin's compromise, insisting that all four island be returned.”18

All or Nothing, Says Tokyo

While Russian overtures were increasingly moving in a direction that would benefit Japan, the Japanese government during this time did not change its policy, continuing to demand all four islands. Part of the reason for this insistence on the return of all four stems from the fact that of the roughly five thousand square kilometers of territory, Kunashiri and Etorofu constitute 90% of the land area.19 Consequently, offers of two (Habomai & Shikotan) out of four islands are deceptive for while they seem to portray a 50:50 deal, in actuality this is far from the case.

Despite this, Putin's two island offer divided Japanese public opinion in turn undermining the assertion by the LDP government that its longstanding Northern Territories policy has remained unchanged because it has become an intractable domestic policy norm.20 The LDP has long supported various irredentist organizations, to the point where they have become institutionalized within the Japanese bureaucracy. The Northern Territories Issue Association is funded by the Management and Coordination Agency and the Japan League for the Return of the Northern Territories falls under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).21 By supporting these organizations, the LDP government has been able to keep the Northern Territories issue in the public consciousness. This in an important point because

Those organizations that survived till the present day are fully dependent on governmental assistance. The institutionalization of the irredentist cause on the grassroots and Hokkaido prefectural levels, contributes to the continuous reproduction of the illusion of a synergetic relationship among the central government, the prefectural administration and the people. This creates a certain illusion of the government position on the islands as being dependent on public opinion or of a certain group. However, today the non-comprising stance can hardly be traced to any particular interests.22

Indeed even before Putin's offer, there were individuals within the Japanese government, such as Muneo Suzuki who argued for a phased-return, in which Habomai and Shikotan would be returned first with the others, in an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations. Suzuki and his supporters soon found themselves in an internal MOFA dispute with foreign minister Makiko Tanaka. Tokyo used Suzuki's clout to get Tanaka fired amid allegations he was undermining Japanese efforts on the Kurile issue, and later expunged himself from government over fears of his increasing power.23 Interestingly the Russian ambassador Panov argued on behalf of Russia, in what can be seen as an implicit approval of the internal divide within Japan concerning the two-island-option, that

these discredited diplomats sincerely worked in order to create a new type of relations between Russia and Japan; relations which would fundamentally differ from the Cold War period and meet the needs of the era. They were professionals [of] high quality and a deep sense of responsibility. None of them in any formal or informal occasion ever expressed their readiness to resolve this with Habomai and Shikotan alone.24

This scandal led to widespread Suzuki bashing within the government and media, who was portrayed as trying to sell Japanese interests short. Indeed Suzuki's reasoning was seen as “sending the signal that Japan was willing to compromise with the return of just two islands. A subsequent proposition from Putin that Russia might be able to do a deal for the return of only Habomai and Shikotan suggests that this was precisely the message that was received.”25

Putin Re-elected, Re-entrenches Russia

Suzuki's fall from grace led and fight with Tanaka left MOFA in total disarray, and his ideas of phased-return, and moderating influences fell out of favour. This combined with the election of Junichiro Koizumi in 2001 who rejected the phased-return solution, claiming that he held an “unswerving conviction that a peace treaty should be concluded by resolving the issue of attribution of the four islands,”26 saw Japanese policy remain firmly rooted in the 'four-or-nothing' dogma. At the Sea Island Summit in 2004 with Putin, Koizumi again reiterated this point, again reaffirming Japan's commitment to the return of all four islands as a precondition of any peace deal.27

Moreover on September 2nd Koizumi angered Russia by taking a boat ride around t4he disputed islands, declaring them Japanese territory.28 Koizumi's firm stance hardened the Japanese position to compromise; a development which was reflected by the actions of the Russian government under Putin's second term. Following his re-election, Putin's tone changed drastically, as witnessed by his September 27th 2005 statement - “regarding the negotiation process with Japan over the four Kurile Islands, they are Russian sovereign territory and this is fixed in international law. This is one of the results of WWII. We have nothing to discuss on this particular point.”29 These cold relations were exemplified by Russian border guards firing on a Japanese fishing vessel in 2006. One Japanese person was killed, the first death in a ten year period in which thirty Japanese ships were detained, 210 people arrested and seven injured.30

The end of the Koizumi government in 2006 saw the beginning of a period of several years in which Russo-Japanese relations improved.31 While Russia continued to demonstrate the increased level of nationalist fervor and increased international confidence and assertiveness which characterized Putin's second term, there was nevertheless a subtle change in Moscow's statements. For instance, in June 2007, Putin at the G8 mentioned that “as to the disputed islands...we don't see them as disputed since this situation emerged as the result of the Second World War and was fixed by international law in international documents.

However, we understand the motives of our Japanese partners' behaviour. We want to get rid of all irritants of the past and with Japan are searching for a solution to this problem.”32 While on the whole, the language of the Japanese government remained unchanged since the Koizumi era, there were some efforts to mirror the thawing attitude in Moscow. In 2008 the Japanese government in several statements sought to reiterate its desire for “ever closer political dialogue” and to resolve the only major issue in Russo-Japanese relations in order “to remove the ill feelings of the Japanese people.”33 Improved relations were on displayed by President Medvedev and PM Taro Aso jointly inaugurating the first liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Sakhalin – which had contracts to deliver to nine Japanese customers – on February 17th 2009.

Aso Ramps up Rhetoric, Medvedev and Putin Retaliate

This brief interlude of warming relations totally fell apart in May 2009 due to PM Taro Aso's comments referring to “the illegal occupation of the Northern Territories by Russia [as] extremely regrettable.”34 The same year the Diet passed legal resolution proclaiming full Japanese sovereignty over the four islands; in return eliciting protests from Moscow,35 with Russia announcing that it would stop accepting Japanese humanitarian aid.36 The short-lived Hatoyama and Kan governments of 2009-2011 were barely in government long enough to affect domestic, let alone international policies, and as such Russo-Japanese relations continued to sour as neither Hatoyama or Kan deviated from the conservative Koizumi-Aso line. Similarly whereas PM Naoto Kan met Medvedev at the June 2010 G8 in Toronto, and while both agreed to resolve the issue, no actual agenda was set.37

Meanwhile in Russia, President Medvedev and PM Putin were continuing to strengthen Russia's international image, and as such when faced with successive unresponsive governments in Tokyo were not incentivized to alter their stances. The mood in Russia during this time is witnessed by the September 2nd 2010 “grand ceremonies [were] held across the Kurile Islands and local newspapers ran articles on the liberation of the Kurile chain by the Soviet Army.” The following year also saw the Kuriles celebrate the 65th anniversary of its founding as a Russian region.38 Under Medvedev's tenure, Russia has taken on a more assertive and vocal stance on the islands.

On November 1st 2010 President Medvedev became the first Russian head of state to visit the islands. This resulted in PM Kan on February 7th 2011 (Northern Territories Day) demonizing Medvedev's visit as an “unforgivable outrage.”39 Kan's condemnation in turn resulted in harsh words from Russia, with on February 9th 2011 Medvedev stating that “Russia must deploy necessary, sufficient and modern weapons to provide the security of the islands as an inseparable part of Russia.40 This cycle of visit and condemnation repeated itself the following year, when on Northern Territories Day 2012 there was a rally in Tokyo, to demand the return of the Northern Territories.41 The same year in July, Medvedev now PM, visited the Kurile Islands.42 

The following Northern Territories Day on February 7th 2013, the PM Shinzo Abe actually attended the mass rally of Kurile irrdentists in Tokyo. Despite stating that he would “pursue the negotiations with fervent determination,” his presence was highly inflammatory, as witnessed by the fact that on the same day two Russian fighter jets illegally intruded into Japanese airspace above the north-eastern portion of Hokkaido.43 The rapid deterioration of bilateral relations in recent years has demonstrated that “political progress on this contentious issue has hardly ever had [such] bleak prospects.”44

While Tokyo and Moscow Quarrel, Local Regions Cooperate

The stubborn nature of both sides, has resulted in the Kurile Island issue persisting into the second decade of the 21st century. Indecision and a series of short-lived governments in Tokyo has led Russia to criticize Japan for “sending wrong signals. Japan has been shifting its negotiating position, sometimes conveying that it would settle for two islands and then insisting that it would settle for no less than all the four islands.”45 Conversely, Moscow is characterized as being overly aggressive, nationalist and a threat to regional security by Japan. Despite the intransigence at the federal level in Japan and Russia, the situation at the sub-state or regional level are drastically different.

Ignoring the fickle political winds in Tokyo and Moscow, the Sakhalin Oblast and Hokkaido prefecture border regions have long engaged in fruitful political, economic and cultural ties. This pragmatic regionalism is in stark contrast to the bickering at the federal level, demonstrating that the national myths and narratives which the central governments perpetuate and claim to act in the name of, are not universally subscribed to.

In June 2006, the mayor of Nemuro City in Hokkaido (where 80% of those displaced by the USSR from the Kuriles ended up settling),46 Hiroshi Fujiwara, became the first mayor in Japanese history to support the two-islands-first-approach espoused by Suzuki,47 musing “if it would be a useful, effective strategy to agree with President Putin's proposal of handing over to us two islands and use it as a first step to make a breakthrough in negotiations with Russia.”48 While such pragmatism defines Japan's border region sub-national governments (SNG), it runs counter to the central government's 'all-or-nothing' narrative. The Japanese government tried to

curtail the efforts of both SNGs and the private sector in fostering commercial links with their Russian counter-parts under a national policy that insists on the inseparability of politics and economics vis-à-vis Russia49...the Foreign Ministry has suppressed Hokkaido's activism when the Ministry has perceived it to be out of sync with the national government's approach50...[Yuriko Koike, minister of Northern Territory Affairs in the Koizumi cabinet sought to counter Fujiwara's pragmatism as] nothing but an opinion of one individual. Our stance that the four islands clearly come under Japanese sovereignty remains unchanged.51

Trade Trumps Nationalism

Despite efforts from Tokyo to hinder Hokkaido's international cooperative efforts, the prefecture has long realized that it and Japan in general could “contribute in a positive manner to helping it in using its rich resources by enhancing its resource export high technology.”52 Opting against Tokyo's commitment to the inseparability of politics and economics, Hokkaido among others have instead adopted PM Noboru Takeshita's 1989 proposal for “expanded equilibrium” - namely that economic cooperation need not be delayed until the territorial issue is settled.53

There has been longstanding interest at the sub-state level for economic links with Russia's Far East. As a result of these economic links and the poor relations at the federal level “it is an open secret that in these days, the most frequent Russian visitors to Tokyo are mainly ministers and high government officials in charge of economic matters.”54 In 1997 the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives sought to promote energy deals in Siberia as well as business training mission for Russia's nascent capitalist class.55 Soon thereafter in November 1998 the Sakhalin and Hokkaido SNGs signed the Agreement on Friendship and Economic Cooperation, and since then Hokkaido has sponsored 'Hokkaido Week' an annual series of events which introduces various aspects of Japanese life to the Sakhalin people.56 

This was an important event because during the whole process there was no direct reference to the Northern Territories problem, for the aim of the agreement was “to promote successful intercultural [and economic] exchanges with Sakhalin, independently of the politically tainted [federal policies].57 This is demonstrated by the fact that the plans of Sakhalin Oblast to improve the infrastructure of the islands over the 2007-2015 period is currently using Japanese materials and vehicles imported from Hokkaido to complete the project.58

New Millenium, New Projects

Since the beginning of the new millennium a myriad of regional initiatives have been undertaken. Niigata prefecture has attempted to set up a Japan Sea Zone in cooperation with SNGs in Russia's Far East59 and cooperate with Russian SNGs on joint research concerning marine processing technology, public servant exchanges and the development of port facilities.60 Moreover Toyama prefecture has an official friendship with the Primorsky region, conducting the “Seminars to Support the Transition to a Market Economy” since 1992. 61Moreover, In April 2001 there emerged the Hokkaido-Sakhalin Business Exchange Support Association which established the Hokkaido Business Centre in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.62

By November 2005, ten municipalities in Hokkaido had established sister-city relations with their counter-parts in Sakhalin, with Wakkanai styling itself as “the city at the forefront of friendship between Japan and Russia.”63 Similarly, the Nemuro municipal government sought a Free Trade Zone between it and the Russian Kuriles in 2006.64 Lastly, regular shipping and air services operate between cities such as Citose, Sapporo and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Wakkanai and Korsakav and Tomakomai and Nakhodka.65 These close and fruitful relations occur counter to the wishes and policies of Tokyo, in large part because

Hokkaido prefecture official have made constant efforts to work as a bridge between Moscow and Tokyo to try to resolve the Northern Territories dispute, while promoting Hokkaido's economic and trade interests in the Russian Far East...they [also claim to] have a better knowledge of the disputed Northern Territories issue than most of their counterparts in the national government. Overall, SNG personnel acknowledge that their capacity is surely limited and they do not have resources to deal with every kinds of foreign affair issue. But this is not their mandate or their intention.66

The most important area in which cooperation occurs is in the oil and natural gas sector, with Russia being Japan's biggest fossil fuel provider outside the Middle East. In 2017 a jointly funded LNG plant in Vladivostok will come online, funded by trillions of yen from regional governments.67 The Corporation to Develop the Sakhalin Continental Shelf Oil and Natural Gas Project has twenty-three projects in Siberia, twenty-two in Khakalovsk and twenty-five in Sakhalin.68 It is these and similar investments that have been the driving factor in trade between the two countries doubling from approximately twelve billion in 2009 to twenty-four billion in 2010.69 These projects are symbolic of the state of Russo-Japanese relations in the 21st century because the

distinctive feature [of these projects] is the enormous scale of several of these projects and their explicitly commercial nature, particularly where the SNGs are of Japanese prefectures and Russian regions. This feature suggests that SNGs are taking up the lucrative development projects that the national governments or private sector interests would likely take up if the bilateral relationship were fully restored, pointing to how sub-national governments provide a valuable surrogate role for national governments.70

Since the Kurile Islands fell under Soviet control at the end of WWII, Japan and Russia have been locked in a decades long legal and political struggle concerning the which of the two ought to be able to exert sovereignty over them. The dispute has outlived the Cold War which perpetuated it, and has become thorn in the side of the Russian Federation, yet another problematic inheritance from the USSR. During the 1990s successive Japanese governments working together with Boris Yeltsin in Russia made significant progress towards creating a final solution to the problem: optimism was so high that both countries pledged to solve the issue by the beginning of the new millennium.

Since 2000 the Putin and Medvedev government have had to deal with a long succession of Japanese governments professing mixed messages and touting conservative rhetoric. Meanwhile Japan squandered the political capital it had accumulated in the 1990s, and had to deal with an increasingly powerful, assertive and brash Russia on the international stage. The Aso, Kan and Abe governments have presided over a precipitous decline in relations, yet during this entire period SNG in both Russia and Japan have been working together to create regional cooperation and economic prosperity. These sub-national actors have transcended the heated politics of their respective federal governments, seeking instead to focus on pragmatic solutions and projects, providing a shining if tiny hint of the untapped potential which a full-blooded Russo-Japanese partnership could achieve.


Bukh, Alexander. “Japan's National Identity: Territorial Disputes and Sub-state Actors – Northern Territories / South Kuriles and Takeshima / Dokdo Compared.” UNISCI Discussion Papers 32 (May 2013): 171-186.

Hara, Kimie. Cold War Frontiers in the Asia Pacific: Divided Territories in the San Francisco System, Nissan Institute Routledge Japanese Studies Series. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Hook Glen D. et al. Japan's International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security. 3rd ed. Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies / Routledge Series. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Jain, Parnendra. Japanese Sub-national Governments in International Affairs. Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies / Routledge Series, ed. Glenn D. Hook. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Kapur, K.D. “Russia-Japan Relations: Politico-strategic Importance of the Disputed Southern Kurile Islands / Northern Territories.” India Quarterly 68, no. 4 (2012): 385-405.

Kimura, Hiroshi. The Kurillian Knot: A History of Japanese-Russian Border Negotiations, trans. Mark Ealey. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

------------- “The Northern Territories Issue: Japanese-Russian Relations and Domestic Concerns in Japan;” in Northern Territories, Asia-Pacific Regional Conflicts and the Aland Experience: Untying the Kurillian Knot, eds. Kimie Hara & Geoffrey Jukes, 25-38. Routledge Series in Asia's Transformations. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Kuroiwa, Yukiko. “Russo-Japanese Territorial Dispute from the Border Region Perspective,” UNISCI Discussion Papers 32 (May 2013): 187-204.

Pardo, Eric. “Northern Territories and Japan-Russia Relations: Will the Knot ever Unite?” UNISCI Discussion Papers 28, (January 2012): 155-170.

Sarkisov, Konstantin. “The Territorial Dispute between Japan and Russia: The “Two Island Solution” and Putin's Last Years as President.” in Northern Territories, Asia-Pacific Regional Conflicts and the Aland Experience: Untying the Kurillian Knot, eds. Kimie Hara & Geoffrey Jukes, 39-51. Routledge Series in Asia's Transformations. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Togo, Kazuhiko. “The Inside Story of the Negotiations on the Northern Territories: Five Lost Windows of Opportunity.” Japan Forum 23, no. 1 (2011): 123-145.

Williams, Brad. Resolving the Russo-Japanese Territorial Dispute: Hokkaido-Sakhalin Relations. Nissan Institute / Routledge Japanese Studies Series. New York: Routledge, 2007.


1Kimie Hara, Cold War Frontiers in the Asia Pacific: Divided Territories in the San Francisco System, Nissan Institute Routledge Japanese Studies Series (New York: Routledge, 2009), 72.

2Kimie, 72.

3Yukiko Kuroiwa, “Russo-Japanese Territorial Dispute from the Border Region Perspective,” UNISCI Discussion Papers 32 (May 2013): 193.

4Yukiko, 192.

5Yukiko, 192.



8Glenn D. Hook et al. Japan's International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security, 3rd ed. Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies / Routledge Series (New York: Routledge, 2012), 82.

9Hiroshi Kimura, The Kurillian Knot: A History of Japanese-Russian Border Negotiations, trans. Mark Ealey (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 103.

10Hiroshi, 109-110.

11Hiroshi, 112.

12Ibid, 113-114.

13Ibid, 112.

14Ibid, 117.

15Brad Williams, Resolving the Russo-Japanese Territorial Dispute: Hokkaido-Sakhalin Relations, Nissan Institute / Routledge Japanese Studies Series (New York: Routledge, 2007), 161.

16Hiroshi, 119.

17Hiroshi, 122.

18Williams, 175.

19Kimie, 72.

20Hiroshi Kimura, “The Northern Territories Issue: Japanese-Russian Relations and Domestic Concerns in Japan;” in Northern Territories, Asia-Pacific Regional Conflicts and the Aland Experience: Untying the Kurillian Knot, eds. Kimie Hara & Geoffrey Jukes, Routledge Series in Asia's Transformations (New York: Routledge, 2009), 28.

21Hiroshi, The Kurillian Knot, 146.

22Alexander Bukh, “Japan's National Identity: Territorial Disputes and Sub-state Actors – Northern Territories / South Kuriles and Takeshima / Dokdo Compared,” UNISCI Discussion Papers 32 (May 2013): 183.

23Kazuhiko Togo, “The Inside Story of the Negotiations on the Northern Territories: Five Lost Windows of Opportunity,” Japan Forum 23, no. 1 (2011): 139.

24Togo, 139-140.

25Williams, 25.

26Hiroshi, The Kurillian Knot, 121.

27Konstantin Sarkisov, “The Territorial Dispute between Japan and Russia: The “Two Island Solution” and Putin's Last Years as President,” in Northern Territories, Asia-Pacific Regional Conflicts and the Aland Experience: Untying the Kurillian Knot, eds. Kimie Hara & Geoffrey Jukes, Routledge Series in Asia's Transformations (New York: Routledge, 2009), 43.

28K.D. Kapur, “Russia-Japan Relations: Politico-strategic Importance of the Disputed Southern Kurile Islands / Northern Territories,” India Quarterly 68, no. 4 (2012): 391.

29Hiroshi, The Kurillian Knot, 137.

30Hiroshi, “The Northern Territories Issue,” , 31.

31Togo, 140.

32Sarkisov, 48.

33Kapur, 392.

34Kapur, 391.

35Eric Pardo, “Northern Territories and Japan-Russia Relations: Will the Knot ever Unite?,” UNISCI Discussion Papers 28, (January 2012): 158.

36Yukiko, 198.

37Hook et al., 96.

38Yukiko, 203.

39Kapur, 394.

40Kapur, 386.

41Kapur, 395.

42Yukiko, 191.

43Yukiko, 203.

44Pardo, 158.

45Kapur, 394.

46Bukh, 174.

47Yukiko, 202.

48Hiroshi, “The Northern Territories Issue,” 29. & Williams, 26.

49Parnendra Jain, Japanese Sub-national Governments in International Affairs, Sheffield Centre for Japanese Studies / Routledge Series, ed. Glenn D. Hook (New York: Routledge, 2005), 123.

50Jain, 159.

51Hiroshi, “The Northern Territories Issue,” 29.

52Kapur, 392.

53Hiroshi, The Kurillian Knot, 105.

54Hiroshi, “The Northern Territories Issue,” 35.

55Williams, 94.

56Williams, 161.

57Williams, 95-96.

58Yukiko, 199.

59Hiroshi, “The Northern Territories Issue,” 31.

60Jain, 123.

61Jain, 123.

62Williams, 94.

63Williams, 86.

64Hiroshi, “The Northern Territories Issue,” 31.

65Jain, 127.

66Jain, 58.

67Kapur, 396.

68Jain, 103.

69Kapur, 398.

70Jain, 102.

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