Russia’s military activities in disputed area: A concern for Japan?

File photo: Kuril Island/Mikhail Klim

The Kuril Island dispute which is an ongoing conflict between Russia and Japan since the end of World War II has emerged again on news headlines as Tokyo has expressed its concern on Russia’s increasing activities in the disputed area. The terminology for both the nations vary, as the Russians call it the Kuriles and the Japanese as the ‘Northern Territories’.The San Francisco Peace Treaty, 1951 states that Japan should give up all rights, titles and claims over the Kuril Islands, meantime not be recognizing the Soviet Union’s sovereignty over the area. But a recent development in the area puts Tokyo under threat as these islands might act as a military base for the Russians.

A statement released by the Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said that the Russians are building a military base on four of the Northern Territories, and these ground-based Aegis ballistic missiles do not pose threat to Russia and were solely intended to defeat Japan during the World War. On a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Onodera talked about Moscow’s deployment of new missile systems and the idea behind the creation of a naval base on the Northern Territories. However, the Russians have provided with a very diplomatic answer over this whole dispute and Japan’s increasing worry over the Kuriles that they are just concerned about US’s military plans in the area and Japan being a middle country between the superpowers is allowing the United States to use the space for the accomplishment of its military base in the Asia-Pacific region. The military base if constructed will allow the US to monitor Northern Korea and its nuclear activities and military actions.

The countries have not yet signed a treaty of peace after the World War and the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September is a hope for both the nation to discuss over the disputed area and resolve the matter at large.


*Arijita Sinha Roy is a Research Intern at The Kootneeti

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