World War II ended for the majority of the world in September of 1945, but it still carries on for Japan and Russia.
Technically speaking, the war hasn’t ended for these two countries, as they never signed a peace treaty with each other that would have formally brought an end to the war.
This week, Dmitry Medvedev, a senior security official in Russia, told Japan that they’d have to drop their territorial claims over a group of islands in the Pacific if they want the peace treaty to be wrapped up.
Japan has laid claim over four of the southernmost islands of what it refers to as the Northern Territories. That same territory is referred to by Russia as the Kuril islands.
The main stumbling block to Russia signing a peace treaty with Japan are the two countries’ claims over these islands.
They are located just off of Hokkaido, which is the main island of Japan that’s the furthest north. The former Soviet Union seized those islands at the end of World War II.
Diplomats from both Japan and Russia at one point talked about reviving a draft agreement that was struck while the Soviet Union was still around that would have returned two of those islands back to Japan, as part of a larger peace deal.
Russia withdrew from those talks, though, and put a freeze on some economic projects the two countries were working on together for the islands. That happened in 2022, since Japan put sanctions on Russia in response to the Communist country invading Ukraine.
This week, Medvedev said his comments were in response to some made by Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, who said he was in favor of re-igniting the peace treaty.
On his official account on the social media platform X, Medvedev wrote:
“Nobody’s against the peace treaty on the understanding that … the ‘territorial question’ is closed once and for all in accordance with the constitution of Russia.”
Russia amended its constitution in 2020 to ban handing over that territory to any foreign power.
Medvedev added that Japan needed to accept the fact that Russia was going to develop the islands, and put weapons there.
“We don’t give a damn about the ‘feelings of the Japanese’ concerning the so-called ‘Northern Territories.’ These are not disputed territories but Russia.
“And those samurai who feel especially said can end their life in a traditional Japanese way, but committing seppuku (Japanese ritualistic suidice by disembowelment). If they dare, of course.”
The Russian official further accused Japan of trying to get on the good side of the United States, even though America dropped the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.
In December, Russia said that joint military exercises being carried out by Australia, the U.S. and Japan close to Hokkaido were a “potential security threat.”
The country has complained that Japan has been expanding its own military infrastructure as well as increasing its purchase of arms with the help of America.