Kuril Islands dispute as Russia prepares to build infrastructure and a military base on the islands

This is an interesting development considering Russia’s Sergei Lavrov will be arriving in Tokyo next month to prepare for a visit of Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe to Moscow in May, 2016. Ostensibly, the diplomacy going on is related to trade and investment in eastern Russia with Japan and negotiations over the Kuril Islands. Despite this diplomacy, Russia again announced plans to build a military base on the Kuril Island closest to Hokkaido. Last year in July, 2015 Russia announced infrastructure development on the Kuril Islands in addition to the construction of a military base. What western analysts continue to comment on about whether Russia or Japan have legal claim over these islands, is that Russia is “intimidating Japan”. The Russian general in the image below is Vladimir Putin’s military adviser and personal friend, Sergei Shoigu. They are often seen together and consult daily on military matters. What will have to be researched is the potential for oil and gas deposits that might be located around the Kuril Islands.

One of the cruelest jokes on Japan being so close to the Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands, is not having direct access under its control of huge oil and natural gas deposits. This is why Japan wants control of the Kuril Islands. It is thought that because of the enormous natural gas and oil deposits under the Sakhalin Islands, that similar deposits are also around the Kuril Islands. Up until only recently, Japan described Russia’s presence on the Kuril Islands as an “illegal occupation”. This rather abrasive description has been dropped by Japan suggesting a willingness to negotiate. The Sakhalin-1 Consortium is Russia’s biggest investment in its history on the Sakhalin Island and everyone wants in including the Japanese who have invested in the oil and natural gas project including pipeline construction. This is not recent news with Russia announcing last year similar plans to build a military base on one of the Kuril Islands. This might be diplomatic posturing leading up to Abe’s visit to Moscow in May, 2016.

Source: The Japan Times

Sergei ShoiguSergei Shoigu | AP / KYODO

Russia considering building naval base in area including disputed isles

March 26, 2016

VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA – Russia is considering building a naval base on islands off northern Japan, an area that includes territory at the center of a long-running spat between Tokyo and Moscow, the TASS news agency reported Friday, quoting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Shoigu’s assertion of Russian sovereignty over the Greater Kuril Ridge, which includes part of the Japan-claimed islands, comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit Russia in May to meet with President Vladimir Putin in the hope of making progress in negotiations over the dispute.

According to the report, Shoigu said during a Defense Ministry board meeting that an investigative team from the Russian Pacific Fleet will be dispatched next month for a three-month mission to determine the feasibility of building a base somewhere on the islands.

Shoigu also announced Friday that Bal and Bastion shore-to-ship missiles and Eleron-3 drones will be deployed on the islands before the end of this year, TASS said.

The row over four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty following World War II.

The islands — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group of islets — were seized by the Soviet Union following Japan’s surrender in August 1945. The islands are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

Japan has been fighting for recognition of its ownership of the islands, while Russia maintains it will return Shikotan and the Habomai islets following the conclusion of a postwar peace treaty.

The Greater Kuril Ridge includes Etorofu and Kunashiri, and Shoigu’s remarks apparently underscored Russia’s position that it sees no room for compromise over the two islands.

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