The Japanese term for the islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan, and Habomai to the north of Japan, which have been at the centre of a territorial dispute between Japan and the Soviet Union since 1945, when they were occupied by the USSR. Since that time the Soviet and Russian governments have argued that Japan's acceptance of the terms of the 1951 San Francisco peace agreement (to which the USSR was not a signatory) settled the issue. Under the treaty, the Kuril Islands were defined as Soviet territory. Japan has since argued, with the backing of the USA, that the Territories are not part of the Kuril chain. The stakes remain high in this dispute, since the area occupied by these islands has rights to many natural resources, including some of the world's richest fishing grounds. While under Putin Russia was prepared to enter into negotiations, no progress has been made from a Japanese point of view.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).