Japan has described the Kuril Islands as being under Russia’s “illegal occupation”
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Japan recently described the Kuril Islands (which Japan calls the Northern Territory and Russia calls the South Kurils) as an "illegal occupation" of Russia.
This is the first time in nearly two decades that Japan has used the phrase in relation to the dispute over the Kuril Islands.
About Kuril Islands/ Northern Territories
These are a group of four islands located between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean, north of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost prefecture.
Both Moscow and Tokyo claim sovereignty over it, although the islands have been under Russian control since the end of World War II.
The islands were occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.
Tokyo claims that these disputed islands have been part of Japan since the early 19th century.
The reason behind the dispute
Japan's sovereignty over the islands is confirmed by a number of treaties since 1855.
Russia, on the other hand, claims the Yalta Agreement (1945) and the Potsdam Declaration (1945) as proof of its sovereignty.
It argues that the 1951 San Francisco Treaty is legal evidence that Japan acknowledged Russian sovereignty over the islands.
Under Article 2 of the treaty, Japan had "renounced all rights, entitlements and claims to the Kuril Islands."
However, Japan argues that the San Francisco Treaty cannot be used here because the Soviet Union never signed a peace treaty.
In fact, Japan and Russia are technically still at war because they haven't signed a peace treaty since World War II.
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