Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Interesting fact of the day - Japan and Russia have yet to sign a peace treaty

There is still disagreement over the ownership of four islands (Shikotan, Kunashiri, Etorofu and the Habomai islets) that were seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.
When I think of Japan, I don't realise how close it is to its neighbours. Busan (Pusan) on the coast of mainland South Korea is only 130 miles to Fukuoka, which is exactly the same distance as Dublin to Liverpool. Even closer is the very Northern tip of Hokkaido (the large square island of North Japan) to Sakhalin Island (Russia's largest island) - 28 miles coast-to-coast.
The problem area is part of a long chain of islands that stretch down from the massive Kamchatka peninsula to within 5 miles of Japan (in a similar way to how the Aleutian islands stretch from Alaska to Russia). At the end of the war the Russians took all of the 750 mile chain and haven't agreed to give the Japanese end back yet after 60 years. The Japanese stance is "all of the 4 islands or nothing" but the Russians don't see anything in that solution for themselves. As the cold war is over, though, there is little point having a costly Russian military base there so maybe a demilitarised neutral area may be the way forward.
Best of luck to the negotiators, though, if Japan's dealings with its other neighbours is anything to go by.

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