23 January, 2009

The Kuril Islands

The Kuril Islands are a chain of islands being disputed by Japan and Russia. “The Kurils dispute has prevented Russia and Japan signing a comprehensive peace treaty since World War II.”(BBC News, pg.1) The chain of islands has been a part of Russian and Japanese relation since 1855 when the two nations tried to establish boundaries for the nations, possession of the island. This was attempted through the Treaty of Shimoda which set “The Russo-Japanese border in the Kurile Islands was drawn between Etorofu and Uruppu” (Wikipedia) in recent years; Japan and Russia have made agreements to invest money into the economy of the islands. “The conclusion of this Agreement is expected to contribute to the expansion of investment and closer economic relations between the two countries through the improvement of the conditions for investment.” (MOFA1) The Russians at the end of World War II took control of the islands by force and forcibly removed the Japanese inhabitants.
A major problem of the islands is the lack of infrastructure and an economy. “Infrastructure has been crumbling and life is harsh for the Russians - about 15,000 in total - who inhabit the islands… Moscow wants Tokyo to increase investment in Russia, but that is something Japanese businessmen have so far been reluctant to do.” (BBC, pg. 3) The countries are looking for the other to take the first step in helping revitalize the economy, and little is getting accomplished. The main source of employment for the inhabitants of the island is as fisherman.
The island chain is located north of the island of Japan. The island chain is the boundaries between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. These islands are a part of the ring of fire, containing more than 40 active volcanoes. The island chain is comprised of more than 56 minor islands. (Wikipedia)

Works Cited
BBC News. Putin confronts Kurils dispute. 2000. Feb. 27, 2008

Wikipedia. Kuril Islands. Feb. 20, 2008. Feb. 27, 2008

MOFA. Signing of the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Russian. 1998. Feb. 27, 2008