Thorny issue between Japan and Russia
THE northern territories refers to Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group of islets, which are north-east of Hokkaido.
Japan and Russia agreed in the 1855 Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation that the boundary between the two nations would be set between Etorofu and Uruppu Island, north of Etorofu. But the Soviet Union occupied the four islands after Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration in 1945.
Russia has continued to occupy the islands after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia claims that the islands became Russian (Soviet) territories as a result of World War II.
But Japan makes the counter-argument that the Yalta agreement, which Russia claims to be the basis of the occupation, was a secret agreement signed between the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union, which does not bind Japan.