The joint declaration signed on October 19, 1956 by representatives of Moscow and Tokyo in the capital of our Motherland is a rather controversial international agreement. In any case, the debate about whether it was the correct diplomatic move of the Soviet side or was originally a colossal geopolitical miscalculation, which the Japanese simply did not manage to take advantage of, continue to this day.
Let me remind you that the end of the Second World War for Japan was drawn by the peace treaty it concluded with the victor countries at the San Francisco Conference in 1951. Everything would be fine, but the USSR categorically refused to sign this document. This was done for a number of reasons. First, the representatives of the People’s Republic of China did not participate in the conference and it did not satisfy a number of territorial claims of the PRC against Tokyo.
The second reason for such a decision was the Americans’ attempt to “throw” the Soviet Union as well. They suddenly flatly refused to recognize the belonging of our country to South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. This is despite the fact that at the Yalta Conference in 1945, Roosevelt did not object to these demands, voiced by Stalin, even in a half-word. By the way, the agreements existed not only in words, but also in writing, but that was in 1945 … Six years later, the “wind changed”, the USSR became an enemy from a forced ally, whose interests the United States was not going to reckon with.
As a result of all this, the main “fighter” of Soviet diplomacy, Andrei Gromyko, who was present in the United States, called the San Francisco agreement a “separate peace” and did not sign an autograph under it. As a result, the USSR and Japan formally remained in a state of war, which, in general, did not please anyone. After Stalin’s death, Khrushchev, who came to power, for some reason, imagining himself the greatest diplomat of all times and peoples, began to quickly “establish good-neighborly relations” with whomever was possible and almost at any cost. Japan is no exception.
The declaration signed on October 19, 1956 in Moscow not only legally fixed the end of the war between the countries and spoke about the restoration of full-fledged diplomatic, and, in the future, trade and economic relations between them. Nikita Sergeevich, in his usual manner, began to make very generous gifts to his opponents, squandering what he had not won. The USSR “in the spirit of friendship and good neighborliness” forgave Japan for reparations, “meeting the wishes of the Japanese side and taking into account its state interests.” Moscow agreed to hand over to Tokyo two of the four Kuril Islands – Habomai and Shikotan.
True, this should have happened only after the conclusion of an already full and comprehensive peace treaty, but the Soviet Union outlined its intentions quite clearly: take it! It must be said that this corresponded exactly to the “wishes” of Tokyo. There they expected (and still dream about it) to lay their paws on all four islands. Nevertheless, at that time, the heavily beaten samurai decided that two were still better than nothing (there is no doubt that they would not have received a piece of pebbles from Stalin), and pretended to agree.
Khrushchev was beaming with complacency from this “diplomatic success.” He, you see, dreamed of turning Japan into a completely neutral state like Switzerland or Austria, and believed that for such a thing a couple of islets were not a pity. At the same time, the age-old history of Russian-Japanese relations, dazzling with wars and conflicts caused by the fact that the Land of the Rising Sun has been the main geopolitical enemy in the Far Eastern region for centuries, was not taken into account.
All the more a slap in the face for Khrushchev was the conclusion of Tokyo on January 19, 1960 with the United States of the Treaty on Interaction and Security, within the framework of which a full-fledged American military presence in the country was consolidated. In fact, it was then that Japan for the United States, which at that time was not a friendly country to the USSR, but a probable enemy number 1, from simply the territory they occupied, turned into the main ally and the most important strategic outpost in the region.
In this regard, our country sent two Aide Memoirs to the Japanese government: of January 27 and February 24, 1960, which clearly and unambiguously stated that in the newly formed circumstances, the transfer of the islands is categorically impossible. At least until the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Japan and the signing of a full-fledged peace treaty with the USSR. In Tokyo, at first they tried to look surprised: “What have we done ?! You promised! ”, And then began to snap at all, declaring that they would“ seek ”the transfer of the entire Kuril ridge. In response, Moscow attached samurai “revenge-seekers” and made it clear that the topic was closed.
A peace treaty between Japan and Russia (as the successor to the USSR) has not been concluded to this day. The stumbling block is all the same islands that the Japanese covet, clinging to the 1956 declaration. At one time, Sergei Lavrov mentioned that our country does not refuse this document, but exclusively from that part of it, which deals with a full-fledged diplomatic settlement of relations. Tokyo, who believed in the omnipotence of the Americans, most likely missed the chance of getting at least half of the Kuriles forever.