On November 1 President Medvedev of the Russian Federation visited Kunashiri Island, one of the Chishima (Kurile) Islands which have historically been the Japanese territory, the first time for any Russian or Soviet head of state.
For the Japanese people, this visit is not a mere “domestic” tour by the Russian president. It is a renewed demonstration by Russia's supreme leader to continue and consolidate its occupation over the Chishima Islands, Japanese territory unjustly annexed by Russia, as what he mentioned as Russia’s “very important region.” The Japanese Communist Party strongly protests this action which runs counter to seeking a fair solution to the territorial question.
The territorial question between Japan and Russia has its origin in the actions of the Soviet Union: in the final days of World War II, the Soviet Union conspired to seize the Chishima Islands, Japan's historically legitimate territory; it made the United States, the United Kingdom accept this as a precondition to its entry into war against Japan; and even before the conclusion of the peace treaty, it unilaterally annexed the islands into the Soviet territory, trampling on a key principle of the post-war disposition, i.e. non-expansion of territory. At the same time, the Soviet Union went so far as to annex the Islands of Habomai and Shikotan, which have always been recognized as part of Hokkaido.
To correct this unjust post-war disposition is fundamental to solving the territorial question with Russia.
From this standpoint, the JCP has been demanding Russia return all the Chishima Islands, along with the Islands of Habomai and Shikotan, ever since it published its policy on the Chishima Islands question in 1969.
Evasion of this core issue by the Japanese government is the most important root cause of the futile outcome of territorial negotiations with Russia in spite of the efforts for more than 50 years since the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration in 1956. Trying to solve the question within the framework of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the government relies on arguing for the reversion of only the Islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai and Shikotan because these are not part of the Chishima Islands that Japan renounced in the treaty. But obviously this argument has no internationally-acceptable logic, if we read the remarks by the representatives of the Japanese government (Plenipotentiary Yoshida Shigeru) and the U.S. government (Plenipotentiary John Foster Dulles) at the San Francisco Peace Conference, as well as the government accounts during the Diet debate on the ratification of the same treaty.
The JCP has been proposing to the successive Japanese governments that in order to solve the territorial question between Japan and Russia (or the former Soviet Union), it should conduct territorial negotiations with Russia (or the Soviet Union) from the standpoint of correcting the unjust post-war disposition after WWII, without referring to the treaty's Chishima-handover clause as non-negotiable.
Now that Russia is taking another forceful action to solidify the status quo, we strongly demand that the Japanese government make a renewed attempt to initiate full-fledged negotiations on the territorial question based on the historical facts and the internationally-accepted norms, building on a review of the past half-century experiences in the territorial negotiations.
- Akahata, November 2, 2010