Japanese Territory

March 1, 2001

Northern Territories

Joint Compendium of Documents on the History of Territorial Issue between Japan and Russia


1. Article 2 of Convention Embodying Basic Rules of the Relations Between Japan and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Declaration (1925)

Article 2

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics agrees that the Treaty of Portsmouth of September 5th, 1905, shall remain in full force.

It is agreed that the Treaties, Conventions and Agreements, other than the said Treaty of Portsmouth, which were concluded between Japan and Russia prior to November 7, 1917, shall be re-examined at a Conference to be subsequently held between the Governments of the High Contracting Parties and are liable to revision or annulment as altered circumstances may require.


On the occasion of signing the Convention on the Fundamental Principles for relations between Japan and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (today, the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, who has signed below, has the honor to declare that his government's recognition of the Portsmouth Treaty of September 5, 1905 in no way means that the Soviet Government shares the political responsibility with the former Tsarist Government for signing the said Treaty.

Peking, January 20, 1925

(The Convention was ratified on February 25, 1925. The exchange of instruments of ratification took place in Peking on April 15, 1925)

2. Atlantic Charter (1941)

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned

3. Declaration of the Soviet Government regarding a participation to the Atlantic Charter (1941)

The Soviet Union has always followed and intends to follow in its foreign policy the principles of respecting the sovereign rights of nations. In its foreign policy, the Soviet Union was and is guided by the principle of self-determination of nations. Through its entire national policy, which forms the basis of the state structure of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union is guided by that principle, which is based on the recognition of the sovereignty and equal rights of all nations. According to this principle, the Soviet Union defends the right of every nation to state independence and the territorial inviolability of its country, the right to establish a state structure and to choose a form of government that is considered appropriate and necessary to ensure the economic and cultural prosperity of the whole country.

Guided by these principles in all of its policies and in all of its relations with other nations, the Soviet Union has always been consistently and decisively against all violations of the sovereign rights of nations, against aggression and aggressors, against all kinds of attempts of aggressive countries to impose their will on other nations and to lead them into war. The Soviet Union was and is tirelessly and decisively asserting that collective action against aggressors is one of the effective means of struggling for the victory of these principles and for the peace and security of nations.

Striving for a radical resolution of the problem of protecting freedom-loving nations from all dangers presented by the aggressors, the Soviet Union has simultaneously launched a struggle for total and complete disarmament. Ready to respond to any blow by an aggressor, the Soviet Union has at the same time always based and will base its foreign policy on the idea of striving toward peaceful and good-neighborly relations with all countries that respect the integrity and inviolability of its borders. It has always been ready to support wholly those nations who have fallen victim to aggression and who are fighting for the independence of their motherland.

Striving for a radical resolution of the problem of protecting freedom-loving nations from all dangers presented by the aggressors, the Soviet Union has simultaneously launched a struggle for total and complete disarmament. Ready to respond to any blow by an aggressor, the Soviet Union has at the same time always based and will base its foreign policy on the idea of striving toward peaceful and good-neighborly relations with all countries that respect the integrity and inviolability of its borders. It has always been ready to support wholly those nations who have fallen victim to aggression and who are fighting for the independence of their motherland.

In accordance with the policy that the Soviet Union steadfastly conducts, based on the principles mentioned above and expressed in numerous acts and documents, the Soviet Government expresses its agreement with the basic principles of the declaration of the President of the Union States Mr. Roosevelt and the Prime Minister of Great Britain Mr. Churchill and main principles that are of great importance in the current international situation.

4. Cairo Declaration (1943)

Statement Issued Following the Conference of President Roosevelt, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Prime Minister Churchill

The several military missions have agreed upon future military operations against Japan. The Three Great Allies expressed their resolve to bring unrelenting pressure against their brutal enemies by sea, land, and air. This pressure is already rising.

The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. It is their purpose that Japan shall 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, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed. The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.

With these objects in view the three Allies, in harmony with those of the United Nations at war with Japan, will continue to persevere in the serious and prolonged operations necessary to procure the unconditional surrender of Japan.

5. Roosevelt-Stalin meeting during the Yalta Conference (1945)

...Marshall Stalin said that he would like to discuss the political conditions under which the USSR would enter the war against Japan. He said he had already had a conversation on this subject with Ambassador Harriman.

The President said he had received a report of this conversation, and he felt that there would be no difficulty whatsoever in regard to the southern half of Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands going to Russia at the end of the war...

...Marshall Stalin said that it is clear that if these conditions are not met it would be difficult for him and Molotov to explain to the Soviet people why Russia was entering the war against Japan. They understood clearly the war against Germany which had threatened the very existence of the Soviet Union, but they would not understand why Russia would enter a war against a country with which they had no great trouble. He said, however, if these political conditions were met, the people would understand the national interest involved and it would very much easier to explain the decision of the Supreme Soviet. (Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conferences of Malta and Yalta, Volume 4, Washington D.C., 1955, pp. 767-769.)

Stalin said that he would like to know the status of the political conditions under which the USSR would enter the war against Japan. An exchange took place regarding the political questions which he, Stalin, had already discussed with Harriman in Moscow.

Roosevelt answered that the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands would be handed over the Soviet Union.

(Crimean Conference Between the Leaders of the Three Allied Powers, Moscow: Publishing House of Political Literature, 1984, page 129.)

6. Yalta Agreement (1945)

The leaders of the three Great Powers - the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain - have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe has terminated the Soviet Union shall enter into the war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that:

1. The status quo in Outer-Mongolia (The Mongolian People's Republic) shall be preserved;

2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz:

(a) the southern part of Sakhalin as well as all the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union,

(b) the commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the preeminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the USSR restored,

(c) the Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South-Manchurian Railroad which provides an outlet to Dairen shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese Company it being understood that the preeminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain full sovereignty in Manchuria;

3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.

It is understood, that the agreement concerning Outer-Mongolia and the ports and railroads referred to above will require concurrence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. The President will take measures in order to obtain this concurrence on advice from Marshal Stalin.

The Heads of the three Great Powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.

For its part the Soviet Union expresses its readiness to conclude with the National Government of China a pact of friendship and alliance between the USSR and China in order to render assistance to China with its armed forces for the purpose of liberating China from the Japanese yoke.

I. Stalin
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Winston S. Churchill

7. Potsdam Declaration (1945)

1. We - The president of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

2. The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

3. The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might, that now converges on Japan is immeasurable greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

4. The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

5. Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

6. There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

7. Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

8. The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

9. The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

10. We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

11. Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those industries which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

12. The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

13. We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.

8. Announcement form Japanese Government (1945)

With reference to the Japanese Government's note of August 10 regarding their acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration and the reply of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China sent by United States Secretary of State Byrnes of August 11, the Japanese Government has the honor to communicate the Governments of the four powers as follows:

1. His Majesty the Emperor has issued an Imperial rescript regarding Japan's acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration.

2. His Majesty the Emperor is prepared to authorize and ensure the signature by his Government and the Imperial General Headquarters of the necessary terms for carrying out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration. His Majesty is also prepared to issue his commands to all the military, naval and air authorities of Japan and all the forces under their control, wherever located, to cease active operations, to surrender arms, and to issue such other orders as may be required by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces for the execution of the above-mentioned terms.

9. Neutrality Pact between Japan and the USSR (1941)

His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, guided by a desire to strengthen peaceful and friendly relations between the two countries, have decided to conclude a neutrality pact, and have agreed as follows:

Article 1

Both Contracting Parties undertake to maintain peaceful and friendly relations with each other and mutually respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of the other.

Article 2

In the event that one of the Contracting Parties becomes subject to military action by one or more third countries, the other Contracting Party shall remain neutral during the whole period of the conflict.

Article 3

This pact shall enter into force from the date of its ratification by both Contracting Parties and shall remain in force for a period of five years. If denounced by either Contracting Party a year before the expiration of that period, it shall be considered to be automatically extended for the next period of five years.

Article 4

This pact shall be ratified as soon as possible. In addition, the exchange of instruments of ratification shall take place at Tokyo as soon as possible.

Yosuke Matsuoka
Yoshitsugu Tatekawa
V. Molotov
(Singed in Moscow on April 13, 1941. Ratified on April 25, 1941.)

10. Announcement from the Soviet Government on the denunciation of the Neutrality Pact (1945)

The Neutrality Pact between Japan and the Soviet Union was signed on April 13, 1941, that is before the German attack on the USSR and before the war between Japan on one hand, and Great Britain and the United States of America on the other.

The situation has drastically changed since then. Japan, an ally of Germany, helps Germany with its war against the USSR. Moreover, Japan is at war with the USA and Great Britain who are allies of the USSR.

Under these circumstances, the Neutrality Pact between Japan and the USSR has lost its significance, and the extension of the Pact has become impossible.

As a result, according to Article 3 of the said Pact that provides for the right of denunciation one year before the end of the five-year period of the validity of the Pact, the Soviet Government hereby announces to the Government of Japan its desire not to extend the Pact from April next year.

11. Announcement from the Soviet Government to the Government of Japan on the Declaration of war (1945)

After the defeat and capitulation of Hitler's Germany, Japan remains the only great power still continuing the war.

The demand of the three powers - the United States of America, Great Britain and China - dated July 26 of this year, demanding an unconditional capitulation of the Japanese military forces, has been rejected by Japan. Thus the suggestion of the Japanese Government to the Soviet Union to mediate in the war in the Far East loses all grounds. Considering Japan's refusal to capitulate, the Allied forces approached the Soviet Government with a proposition to join in the war against Japanese aggression in order to bring the end of the war closer, to decrease the number of victims, and to promote the soonest possible reestablishment of peace in the world.

Being faithful to its duty as an ally, the Soviet Government decided to accept the proposition of the Allies and joined the declaration of the Allied Powers of July 26 of this year.

The Soviet Government thinks that such a policy would be the only means to advance peace, to free people from further casualties and suffering and to give the Japanese people an opportunity to avoid the dangers and destruction which Germany had to endure after its refusal of unconditional capitulation.

As a result of everything mentioned above, the Soviet Government declares that from tomorrow, August 9, the Soviet Union considers itself to be at war with Japan.

12. Memorandum from the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces to the Japanese Imperial Government (1946)

3. For the purpose of this directive, Japan is defined to include the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku) and the approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands, including the Tsushima Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands north of 30° North Latitude (excluding Kuchinoshima Island); and excluding (a) Utsuryo (Ullung) Island, Liancourt Rocks (Take Island) and Quelpart (Saishu or Cheju) Island, (b) the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands south of 30° North Latitude (including Kuchinoshima Island), the Izu, Nanpo, Bonin (Ogasawara) and Volcano (Kazan or Iwo) Island Groups, and all other outlying Pacific Islands [including the Daito (Chigashi or Oagari) Island Group, and Parece Vala (Okino-tori), Marcus (Minami-tori) and Ganges (Nakano-tori) Islands], and (c) the Kurile (Chishima) Islands, the Habomai (Hapomace) Island Group (including Suisho, Yuri, Akiyuri Shibotsu and Taraku Islands) and Shikotan Island.

6. Nothing in this directive shall be construed as an indication of Allied policy relating to the ultimate determination of the minor islands referred to in Article 8 of the Potsdam Declaration.

13. Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet on the Creation of the South-Sakhalin Province in the Khabarovsk Region (1946)

Create on the territory of South Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands the South Sakhalin province (oblast) with its center in the city of Toyohara and include it in the RSFSR Khabarovsk region (krai).

Chairman of the Presidium M. Kalinin
of the USSR Supreme Soviet

Secretary of the Presidium M. A. Gorkin
of the USSR Supreme Soviet

Moscow, the Kremlin, February 2, 1946

Back to Japanese Territory