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The Kuril Islands: a harsh, but necessary, lesson

22.04.2013 13:27

Participation of the USSR in the war with Japan in the Far East accelerated the defeat of the Japanese armed forces. In this case, as is known, the Soviet leadership acted in accordance with the Yalta agreement signed on 4-15 February, 1945 by the Grand coalition allies. In Japan, however, there is a common version that Soviet leader J.V.Stalin entered the war in the Far East to seize the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands even before the Japanese government's surrender.

However, as evidenced by documents and facts, the USSR could indeed get these formerly owned by Russia territory without war. As claimed by the famous Russian orientalist, Doctor of Historical Sciences Anatoly Koshkin, "in spring-summer 1945, the Japanese government did everything possible to persuade the Kremlin not to act against Japan." The Soviet leadership, the scientists said, was in a variety of ways informed of suggesting possible concessions in the form of compensation for the treaty (of neutrality) with the USSR. The largest of them were - the return of the southern part of Sakhalin, Japan's renunciation of the fisheries agreement that was in force since 1928. Also it was suggested to give the Soviet Union a part of the Kuril Islands.

The Japanese official historians argue that the Japanese government was allegedly not aware of the agreement reached at the Yalta Conference on entering of the Soviet Union the war against Japan. However, there is evidence that the Japanese intelligence had information about the agreements in Crimea. For example, in 1985, in Japan, memoirs by a cryptologist from the Japanese mission in one of the Scandinavian countries, Yuriko Onodera were published. She stated that the content of the secret agreement concluded in Yalta was sent to Tokyo in proper time.

In addition, Shigenori Togo who was the Japanese Foreign Minister in the final stages of the war admitted with regret that the Japanese hesitated too long about arousing the Russian's interest in a set of various concessions and "hesitated infinitely". Although he personally was told in Moscow by Stalin and Molotov that they would seek the return of Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. If the Japanese government had begun to talk about the return to the Soviet Union of the seized lands not on the eve of its destruction, but much earlier, say in 1943, Stalin's position with regard to participation in the war against Japan could have been different.

In 1945, the Soviet leadership avoided the talks with Tokyo on the conditions of maintaining neutrality. The Kremlin understood that the consent to the Japanese government's proposals to return the territory without war could be regarded as a violation of the Yalta agreements. J.V.Stalin believed that the allied debt must be strictly done, and Japan must be punished for the unleashed war.

Making a decision to enter the war in the Far East, the Soviet leadership, according to A.Koshkin, took into account serious geopolitical threats that could face the Soviet Union after the war. Particularly, the removal of the Soviet removal from the postwar political process in East Asia, first of all, in China could not be allowed.

The Kremlin, the researcher believes, obviously, knew the content of the secret conversation between the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on November 23, 1943 and the head of China's Kuomintang government, Chiang Kai-shek at a conference in Cairo. Then the U.S. President offered the Chinese leader to conclude after the war a US-China military alliance that provided for the deployment in China, including the Soviet border, of the U.S. military bases. Chiang Kai-shek enthusiastically welcomed this proposal. In this case, Port Arthur and a number of other strategically important areas fell under the direct control of the U.S. For his part, Chiang Kai-shek asked the United States to help to admit Mongolia in China. Roosevelt promised to negotiate the matter with the USSR.

Further development of the situation in the world, the conclusion of the Japan-US security treaty, Japan's transformation into an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" directed against the Soviet Union and China confirmed the Kremlin's fears and considerations.

The current Japanese politics, talking about the Kuril Islands as an alleged "indigenously northern territories" should more often consult the documents of the military and post-war periods. As is known, in August 1945, the Japanese government agreed to the Potsdam Conference terms of unconditional surrender for Japan, including paragraph 8 stating: "The Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine". For the purpose of this regulation, Japan was deprived of the Kuril Islands.

As is known, this was confirmed on January 29, 1946 in a memorandum by Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers General Douglas MacArthur. The document sent to the Japanese government stated that all the islands located to the north of Hokkaido were excluded from jurisdiction of the Japanese state and administrative power, including "the Habomai group (Hapomanjo), including the islands of Susio, Yury, Akiyuri, Sibotsu, Taraku and Shikotan Island". Then, the Japanese government took it for granted and did not express any objections. Japan's renunciation of the Kuril Islands was recorded in the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951

Thus, as the head of the Japanese delegation for the Portsmouth peace treaty 1905 definition, Yutaro Komura said dismissing the Russian representative's objections against the seizure in favor of Japan of southern Sakhalin in violation of the Sino-Russian Treaty, "war cancels all treaties. You have been defeated, so let's start from the situation created." We should proceed from the same today too.