According to Kyodo, during talks in Moscow in March, Xi told Putin that China “will not take sides.” In the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. This is a major change because for decades China has maintained that the four disputed islands belong to Japan.
In 1964, Chinese leader Mao Zedong said that China supported Japanese territorial claims and hoped that Russia would return the Kurils. Although the Chinese government has not publicly announced this position in recent years, it has maintained it. Chinese maps show the disputed islands as “Russian occupation,” Kyodo notes.
The agency’s interlocutors added that China’s decision to change its position on the Kurils would complicate the resolution of the dispute, as Russia is unlikely to make any concessions on the issue.
The Soviet Union annexed the Kurils after World War II. In 1956, the Soviet Union signed a peace declaration with Japan that promised to return Shikotan and Habomai when the parties concluded a peace treaty. Subsequently, Japanese authorities began demanding the return of all the islands, and a peace treaty was never signed.
Immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine in March 2022, Russia halted peace treaty negotiations with JapanIt was associated with western taboos. A month later, in April, Japan’s Foreign Ministry called the Kuril Islands region “illegally occupied” for the first time since 2003.
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