Japanese Territory

March 1, 2001

Northern Territories

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


1. Statement of the Delegate of the USA, John Dulles, at the Conference in San Francisco (1951)

Chapter I ends the state of war, with consequent recognition of the full sovereignty of the Japanese people. Let us note that the sovereignty recognized is the "sovereignty of the Japanese people."

What is the territory of Japanese sovereignty? Chapter II deals with that. Japan formally ratifies the territorial provisions of the Potsdam Surrender Terms, provisions which, so far as Japan is concerned, were actually carried into effect six years ago.

The Potsdam Surrender Terms constitute the only definition of peace terms to which, and by which, Japan and the Allied Powers as a whole are bound. There have been some private understandings between some Allied Governments; but by these Japan was not bound, nor were other Allies bound. Therefore, the treaty embodies article 8 of the Surrender Terms which provided that Japanese sovereignty should be limited to Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and some minor islands. The renunciations contained in article 2 of chapter II strictly and scrupulously conform to that surrender term.

Some question has been raised as to whether the geographical name "Kurile Islands" mentioned in article 2 (c) includes the Habomai Islands. It is the view of the United States that it does not.

2. Statement of the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, A.A. Gromyko, at the Conference in San Francisco (1951)

... The peace treaty with Japan should, naturally, resolve a number of territorial questions connected with the peace settlement with Japan. It is known that in this respect as well the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union undertook specific obligations. These obligations are outlined in the Cairo Declaration, in the Potsdam Declaration, and in the Yalta Agreement.

These agreements recognize the absolutely indisputable rights of China, now the Chinese People's Republic, to territories severed from it. It is an indisputable fact that original Chinese territories which were severed from it, such as Taiwan (Formosa), the Pescadores, the Paracel Islands and other Chinese territories, should be returned to the Chinese People's Republic.

The rights of the Soviet Union to the southern part of the Sakhalin Island and all the islands adjacent to it, as well as to the Kurile Islands, which are at present under the sovereignty of the Soviet Union, are equally indisputable.

Thus, while resolving the territorial questions in connection with the preparation of a peace treaty with Japan, there should not be any lack of clarity if we are to proceed from the indisputable rights of states to territories which Japan got hold of by the force of arms.

... As regards the American-British draft peace treaty with Japan in the part pertaining to territorial questions, the Delegation of the USSR considers it necessary to state that this draft grossly violates the indisputable rights of China to the return of integral parts of Chinese territory: Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Paracel and other islands severed from it by the Japanese militarists. The draft contains only a reference to the renunciation by Japan of its rights to these territories but intentionally omits any mention of the further fate of these territories. In reality, however, Taiwan and the said islands have been captured by the United States of America and the United States wants to legalize these aggressive actions in the draft peace treaty under discussion. Meanwhile the fate of these territories should be absolutely clear -- they must be returned to the Chinese people, the master of their land.

Similarly, by attempting to violate grossly the sovereign rights of the Soviet Union regarding Southern Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it, as well as the Kurile Islands already under the sovereignty of the Soviet Union, the draft also confines itself to a mere mention of the renunciation by Japan of rights, title and claims to these territories and makes no mention of the historic appurtenance of these territories and the indisputable obligation on the part of Japan to recognize the sovereignty of the Soviet Union over these parts of the territory of the USSR.

We do not speak of the fact that by introducing such proposals on territorial questions the United States and Great Britain, who at an appropriate time, signed the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations, as well as the Yalta Agreement, have taken the path of flagrant violation of obligations undertaken by them under these international agreements.

... To sum up, the following conclusions regarding the American-British draft peace treaty can be drawn:

1. The draft does not contain any guarantees against the reestablishment of Japanese militarism, the transformation of Japan into an aggressive state. The draft does not contain any guarantees ensuring the security of countries which have suffered from aggression on the part of militarist Japan. The draft creates conditions for the reestablishment of Japanese militarism, creates a danger of a new Japanese aggression.

2. The draft treaty actually does not provide for the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces. On the contrary, it ensures the presence of foreign armed forces on the territory of Japan and the maintenance of foreign military bases in Japan even after the signing of a peace treaty. Under the pretext of self-defense of Japan, the draft provides for the participation of Japan in an aggressive military alliance with the United States.

3. The draft treaty not only fails to provide for obligations that Japan should not join any coalitions directed against any of the states which participated in the war against militarist Japan, but on the contrary, is clearing the path for Japan's participation in aggressive blocs in the Far East created under the aegis of the United States.

4. The draft treaty does not contain any provisions on the democratization of Japan, on the ensurance of democratic rights to the Japanese people, which creates a direct threat to a rebirth in Japan of the prewar Fascist order.

5. The draft treaty flagrantly violates the legitimate rights of the Chinese people to an integral part of China - Taiwan, the Pescadores and Paracel Islands and other territories severed from China as a result of Japanese aggression.

6. The draft treaty is in contradiction to the obligations undertaken by the United States and Great Britain under the Yalta Agreement regarding the return of Sakhalin and the transfer of the Kurile Islands to the Soviet Union.

7. The numerous economic clauses are designed to ensure for foreign, in the first place American, monopolies the privileges which they have obtained during the period of occupation. The Japanese economy is being placed in a slave-like dependence on these foreign monopolies.

8. The draft actually ignores the legitimate claims of states that have suffered from Japanese occupation regarding compensation by Japan for the damage that they have suffered. At the same time, providing for the compensation of losses directly by the labor of the Japanese population it imposes on Japan a slave-like form of reparations.

9. The American-British draft is not a treaty of peace but a treaty for the preparation of a new war in the Far East.

3. Statement of the Prime Minister of Japan, S. Yoshida, at the Conference in San Francisco (1951)

The peace treaty before the Conference contains no punitive or retaliatory clauses; nor does it impose upon Japan any permanent restrictions or disabilities. It will restore the Japanese people to full sovereignty, equality, and freedom, and reinstate us as a free and equal member in the community of nations. It is not a treaty of vengeance, but an instrument of reconciliation. The Japanese Delegation gladly accepts this fair and generous treaty.

On the other hand, during these past few days in this very conference hall, criticisms and complaints have been voiced by some delegations against this treaty. It is impossible that anyone can be completely satisfied with a multilateral peace settlement of this kind. Even we Japanese, who are happy to accept the treaty, find in it certain points which cause us pain and anxiety. I speak of this with diffidence, bearing in mind the treaty's fairness and magnanimity unparalleled in history and the position of Japan. But I would be remiss in my obligation to my own people if I failed to call your attention to these points.

In the first place, there is the matter of territorial disposition.

... With respect to the Kuriles and South Sakhalin, I cannot yield to the claim of the Soviet Delegate that Japan had grabbed them by aggression.

At the time of the opening of Japan, her ownership of two islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri of the South Kuriles was not questioned at all by the Czarist government. But the North Kuriles north of Urruppu and the southern half of Sakhalin were areas open to both Japanese and Russian settlers. On May 7, 1875 the Japanese and Russian Governments effected through peaceful negotiations an arrangement under which South Sakhalin was made Russian territory, and the North Kuriles were in exchange made Japanese territory. But really, under the name of "exchange" Japan simply ceded South Sakhalin to Russia in order to settle the territorial dispute. It was under the Treaty of Portsmouth of September 5, 1905 concluded through the intermediary of President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States that South Sakhalin became also Japanese territory.

Both the Kuriles and South Sakhalin were taken unilaterally by the Soviet Union as of September 20, 1945, shortly after Japan's surrender.

Even the islands of Habomai and Shikotan, constituting part of Hokkaido, one of Japan's four main islands, are still being occupied by Soviet forces simply because they happened to be garrisoned by Japanese troops at the time when the war ended.

4. Articles 2 and 25 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951)

Article 2

(a) Japan, recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet.
(b) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.
(c) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of September 5, 1905.
(d) Japan renounces all right, title and claim in connection with the League of Nations Mandate System, and accepts the action of the United Nations Security Council of April 2, 1947, extending the trusteeship system to the Pacific Islands formerly under mandate to Japan.
(e) Japan renounces all claim to any right or title to or interest in connection with any part of the Antarctic area, whether deriving from the activities of Japanese nationals or otherwise.
(f) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.

Article 25

For the purposes of the present Treaty the Allied Powers shall be the States at war with Japan, or any State which previously formed a part of the territory of a State named in Article 23, provided that in each case the State concerned has signed and ratified the Treaty. Subject to the provisions of Article 21, the present Treaty shall not confer any rights, titles or benefits on any State which is not an Allied Power as herein defined; nor shall any right, title or interest of Japan be deemed to be diminished or prejudiced by any provision of the Treaty in favor of a State which is not an Allied Power as so defined.

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