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Russia, Japan and the USA: The Unfinished Business of War

21 6 186

As the USA and North Korea meet in Vietnam to discuss the possibility of a peace treaty between the two after decades of hostility against North Korea from the USA, the governments of Russia and Japan are engaged in talks about concluding a peace treaty to formally end the war between them that began during the Second World War. The two meetings are related since they concern peace and security in Asia and the Pacific and because the stumbling block to peace in both instances is the threat posed by the United States conventional and nuclear forces in the region.

North Korea has long sought a peace treaty with the USA along with a firm guarantee that the USA will not attack. North Korea’s requests for peace have been met, up until now, with nothing but false promises, unjust sanctions, attempts to isolate it from the world and threats of annihilation. The USA, on the other hand, has only one objective, the nuclear disarmament of North Korea, making it vulnerable to American attack while claiming the right to retain and develop its triad of nuclear forces and the right to use them whenever it sees fit. Since the word of the US leadership is not worth much, as the world has seen time and again as the US reneges on one international agreement after another, hopes of something positive coming out of the Korean-American meeting in Vietnam are slim. But we can hope.

The situation between Japan and Russia is also at an impasse and once again the basic cause for this is the USA. The key sticking point between them since the 1950’s has been, and remains, control over the Kuril Islands that lie north of the Japanese Island of Hokkaido and south of the Russian territories on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The islands have changed hands between them several times in history but with the defeat of Japan in 1945 the islands were given to the USSR by international agreement with Japan protesting that it should have ownership and control of the four southern islands in the chain. The islands have been in Russian hands ever since.

In 1956 the USSR and Japan entered into negotiations to try to conclude a peace treaty that resulted in a Joint Declaration paragraph 9 of which stated,

“9. Japan and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics agree to continue, after the restoration of normal diplomatic relations between Japan and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, desiring to meet the wishes of Japan and taking into consideration the interests of Japan, agrees to hand over to Japan the Habomai Islands and the island of Shikotan. However, the actual handing over........

© New Eastern Outlook