Japan May Deploy US Military Bases in Southern Kuril Islands?


Japan has admitted a possibility of placing US military bases on the two islands of the southern Kuril Islands. While this looks not likely, but Russia has already a negative expirience in such issues. For example, the NATO expanded into eastern Europe after the USSR withdrew its forces from the region.

Japan May Deploy US Military Bases in Southern Kuril Islands?

US Marine’s Osprey aircraft sit in close proximity to a crowded urban area of Ginowan, Okinawa prefecture (Photo: Getty Images / AFP / Toru Yamanaka)

Tokyo does not rule out a possibility of placing US military bases on the two islands of the southern Kuril Islands, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing the words of Secretary of the National Security Council of Japan, Shotaro Yachi. The statement was made during the Yachi’s visit to Moscow in November.

“Since November, Japan’s optimism [in respect of progress on the territorial issue] began to weaken. In early November, Secretary of the Japanese National Security Council, Shotaro Yachi, arrived to Moscow and met with Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev. According to numerous government sources, Patrushev asked whether US bases to be placed on the islands in the case of transfer of the two islands to Japan, as it is specified in the Joint Declaration [of 1956]. Yachi answered that there is such an opportunity,” the article reads.

Earlier, the press service of the Russian Security Council reported that issues of regional and international security were discussed during the meeting between Patrushev and Yachi in Moscow on November 9. The sides paid a special attention to the “major challenges and threats in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to the Russian-Japanese security cooperation.”

The newspaper also cites the opinion of government officials, who believe that the Yachi’s answer was obvious: if the islands are under the sovereignty of Japan, the security agreement between Tokyo and Washington will be valid on their territory too.

According to the article, it is the main reason of lowering of the degree of expectations of progress in the negotiations on the territorial issue of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that was especially clearly seen during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Lima at the end of November. After the summit in Peru, Abe, who did not conceal his optimism about the Putin’s upcoming visit to Japan before, said that the “achievement of a considerable step right away is impossible,” and the “main thing is to move step by step,” as a “single meeting cannot solve the problem, which could not be solved during 70 years.”

On Tuesday, Putin said in an interview with the Japanese Nippon TV (NTV) TV-company that attempts to talk about Japanese sovereignty in the southern Kuril Islands from the “first step” would close the further discussion of the issue.

“You raised the question that economic activities can be developed on the islands [the southern Kuril], the sovereignty over which will be belonged to Japan. If it will be from the first step, then the second step is not necessary. Because the issue can be considered closed. Because we did not agree about it,” the Russian President noted.

Japan claims on Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai islands, referring to the bilateral tractate on trade and borders of 1855. Tokyo made the return of the islands a condition of concluding a peace treaty with Russia, which was not signed after the end of the Second World War.

According to Moscow, the southern Kuril Islands became a part of the Soviet Union as the result of the Second World War, and the Russian sovereignty over them has a corresponding international legal formalization.

The Joint Declaration of 1956 regarded the transfer of Habomai and Shikotan to Tokyo after conclusion of the peace treaty; however, the fate of Kunashir and Iturup was not touched.