Kunashir Island, one of the four islands disputed by Japan and Russia

Maps: What are the Northern Territories?

The Northern Territories (part of an island chain called the Kuril Islands in Russian) are a set of four islands off the northeastern coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Ainu, they were later used by Japanese, Russians, and Americans as bases for fishing and whaling. Japanese administration over the four […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Putin is to travel to Japan later this month to meet the Japanese prime minister and discuss a territorial dispute over the southern Kuril islands which keeps the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)

The Hot Spring Summit, Part 1: The Treacherous Ground of Territorial Negotiations

This is the first in a two-part series: On December 15, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Otanisanso onsen (hot spring) resort in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture, for a face-to-face meeting. The Northern Territories, comprising the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai islands, are integral parts of Japan. […]

%e6%97%a5%e9%9c%b2%e9%95%b7%e9%96%80%e4%bc%9a%e8%ab%87%e3%80%80%e6%99%8b%e5%a4%aa%e9%83%8e%e3%83%bb%e3%82%b4%e3%83%ab%e3%83%90%e3%83%81%e3%83%a7%e3%83%95

The Hot Spring Summit, Part 2: “I Will Not Leave this to the Next Generation”

This is the second in a two-part series. You can read part one here On January 19, 1960, four years after the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi was visiting the White House and signed an amended version of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance and putting the relationship between the two […]

abeputin2meeting-in-vladivostok-russia-friday-sept-2-2016-kyodo

Abe & Putin: Why There Won’t Be a Breakthrough on Territory

On May 6, 2016, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emerged from a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, to tell the waiting press, “I have a sense that we are moving towards a breakthrough in the stalled peace treaty negotiations.” He continued by unveiling a “new approach” to bilateral relations, consisting of enhanced economic […]

Russia Putin

Putin Is No Strongman: He’s Leading Russia into Ruin

It’s no surprise that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to make nice with Vladimir Putin later this week. The Russian president sure does look like a winner these days. Of course, there’s the obvious: In just two months, the United States—Moscow’s main competitor on the world stage—will be led by an incompetent demagogue whose […]