Why are the Kuril Islands so important?

The archipelago is important for Russia’s defenses because the straits give the Russian Pacific Fleet access to the Pacific Ocean, while other straits are under control of foreign countries or underdeveloped.

Are the Kuril Islands still disputed?

Due to the dispute, Russia and Japan have never signed a peace treaty and are technically still at war. As both sides claim the territories, the question of the Kurils’ sovereignty remains uncertain. Tokyo regularly protests visits of Russian officials to the islands.

Does anyone live on Kuril Islands?

The Kuril Islands consist of the Greater Kuril Chain and the Lesser Kuril Chain. They cover an area of around 10,503.2 square kilometres (4,055.3 sq mi), with a population of roughly 20,000.

How did Russia get the Kuril Islands?

The chain of islands – stretching between the Japanese island of Hokkaido at the southern end and the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula in the north – was conquered by the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War. Ever since, Moscow has considered the Kuril Islands an integral part of Russia.

What language is spoken on Kuril Islands?

Kuril Ainu or Kuril, is an extinct and poorly attested Ainu language of the Kuril Islands, now part of Russia. The main inhabited islands were Kunashir, Iturup and Urup in the south, and Shumshu in the north.

Do any Japanese live on the Kuril Islands?

A regional election commission said last year that 11,347 people over the age of 18 inhabit the island chain, which is known as the Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. According to the state-funded VTsIOM pollster, 96 percent of Kuril residents said they oppose ceding the islands to Japan.

What are the Kuril Islands?

Lying equidistant between Russia and Japan, the island chain is rich in fish, minerals, and other natural resources. Known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the South Kurils, four of these islands—Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan, and the Habomai islets—have lain at the center of a dispute over ownership that continues to this day.

Why did Russia invade the Kuril Islands?

On August 9, 1945, the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, the Russian army invaded a collection of Japanese islands known as the Kuril Islands. Lying equidistant between Russia and Japan, the island chain is rich in fish, minerals, and other natural resources.

How did Japan colonize the Kuril Islands?

Japan started to settle the Kuril Islands as far back as the 18th century, seizing them in 1875. By the outbreak of World War II, the chain was home to some 17,000 Japanese residents. When Russia seized the islands, the Japanese inhabitants were deported, and the Russians began to build up a heavy military presence that exists to this day.