Kuril Islands

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In Japan, conservative voices are hinting that Russian and Ukraine war could give Japan a chance to take control of disputed Kuril Islands.

About Kuril Islands


  • These are a set of four islands situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean near the north of Japan's northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido. 
  • Japan refers to them as Northern territories, Russia calls them the Kuril Islands and South Korea named them as Dokdo islands.
  • These are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire belt and have over 100 volcanoes, of which 35 are said to be active volcanoes along with hot springs.
  • Both Russia and Japan claim sovereignty over them though the islands have been under Russian control since the end of World War II.
  • The Soviet Union had seized the islands at the end of World War II and by 1949 had expelled its Japanese residents.
  • Tokyo claims that the disputed islands have been part of Japan since the early 19th century.


What lies behind the dispute?

  • According to Tokyo, Japan’s sovereignty over the islands is confirmed by several treaties like the Shimoda Treaty of 1855, the 1875 Treaty for the exchange of Sakhalin for the Kuril Islands (Treaty of St. Petersburg), and the Portsmouth Treaty of 1905 signed after the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 which Japan had won.
  • Russia, on the other hand, claims the Yalta Agreement (1945) and the Potsdam Declaration (1945) as proof of its sovereignty and argues that the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 is legal evidence that Japan had acknowledged Russian sovereignty over the islands. Under Article 2 of the treaty, Japan had “renounced all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands.”


Q1) What is the Pacific Ring of Fire?

The Pacific Ring of Fire, often simply referred to as the "Ring of Fire," is a horseshoe-shaped zone in the Pacific Ocean characterized by a high level of seismic and volcanic activity. It is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Plate and other neighboring tectonic plates.

Source: Could China take Kuril islands claimed by Japan and Russia?