Russia Warns Japan to Drop Territorial Claim

( – On Tuesday, January 30, Dmitry Medvedev, ex-president of Russia, told Japan that it must give up its territory in the Pacific if it wants to formally have a peace treaty. Medvedev emphasized that Japan must abandon its territorial claims to what Russia calls Kuril Islands. This stance is likely to provoke Japan, which has also claimed ownership of these islands, which it calls the northern territories.

The Kuril Islands, located off Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, were taken by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, creating an ongoing issue regarding a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. Despite previous discussions on the potential return of two islands to Japan as part of a peace deal, diplomatic efforts stalled in 2022 when Russia withdrew from talks and suspended joint economic projects because of Japanese sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine.

Medvedev’s remarks were in response to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s recent comments on a peace treaty with Russia. He asserted that a peace treaty could be pursued under the condition that the territorial issue aligns with Russia’s constitution. In 2020, Russia amended its constitution to ban the transfer of territory to foreign powers.

Taking a tough stance, Medvedev insisted that Japan must acknowledge Russia’s development of the Kuril Islands and the deployment of new weapons. Dismissing concerns about the “feelings of the Japanese” regarding the Northern Territories, Medvedev again said that these are Russian territories, not subjects of dispute.

Accusing Japan of aligning with the US despite historical tensions because of the US not only being allied with the Soviet Union at the time, but also fighting Japan as well, Medvedev dismissed Japan’s concerns. Russia previously criticized joint military exercises by Japan, the US, and Australia near Hokkaido, characterizing them as a potential security threat.

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