Kyodo News
April 22, 2022

Japan shifts to hard-line stance on territorial dispute with Russia

Tokyo has switched to a hard-line stance in its decades-long territorial dispute with Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating in its annual foreign policy report released Friday that four northern islands are “illegally occupied” by Russia.


The report highlighted Tokyo’s departure from a conciliatory approach toward Russia, with the “illegally occupied” wording on the status of the islands, off Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, appearing for the first time since the 2003 report.


The bluebook also said the islands, called the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, are an “inherent” part of the territory of Japan, a description that had been absent since the 2011 report.

The Northern Territories are islands over which Japan has sovereignty, and are an inherent part of the territory of Japan, but now are illegally occupied by Russia,” the bluebook said.

Calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine “an outrage that undermines the foundation of the international order not only in Europe but also in Asia,” the report said the current circumstances leave the prospects for an outcome in the territorial talks uncertain.


On relations with the United States, it said the Japan-U.S. alliance has become “stronger than ever before in history,” as the two nations held eight summit and 15 foreign ministerial talks by the end of February after the launch of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration in 2021.