2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:26
The victories and defeats of the past are remembered when problems arise in the present. History is a great teacher, only humanity behaves like a negligent student when doing homework. Therefore, situations periodically arise that force us to work on the bugs.
The origin of the problem
In 1639, Japan, fearing foreign influence, closes the harbor, decides not to develop the ocean fleet, expels foreigners. Voluntary self-isolation dragged on for almost two centuries.
Exactly one hundred years later, Russian navigators explored in detail and mapped the land in the Sea of Okhotsk - the Kuril Islands. This fact was indicated in the "Atlas of the Russian Empire" in 1796, officially they were included in the Okhotsk region of the Kamchatka district.
In the same period, the Japanese also discovered the Kuriles, noting in documents that, along with the indigenous population, they saw a large number of "foreigners in red clothes" on the islands.
The interests of the two empires clashed over a territory of 15.6 thousand square kilometers.
Diplomacy at the helm
Russian Adjutant General, Vice-Admiral Evfimy Vasilyevich Putyatin set about eliminating the contradictions between Russia and Japan in claims to distant islands. The Treaty of Shimoda of 1855, for the first time at the international level, secured the right of ownership and established boundaries as follows: Fr. Urup completely and all the northern lands were ceded to the possessions of the Russian Empire, Fr. Iturup and the islands to the south of it - to Japanese territory, about. Karafuto, as Sakhalin used to be called, remained undivided and without borders. The treaty also regulated issues of trade, shipping and the order of good neighborly relations. Consular offices were opened for the first time:
From now on, let there be permanent peace and sincere friendship between Russia and Japan…
Thus began the document on commerce and frontiers that we call today the Treaty of Shimoda.
Good intentions, as history teaches us, do not always lead to good results. The vagueness of Sakhalin's status, which was described in the document as "undivided", was a catalyst for further disagreements between the imperial neighbors. Uncertainty was understood as shared ownership.
But the advantage was on the side of Russia. She began to develop and settle in this harsh territory earlier. Japanese officials immediately began to complain and show dissatisfaction with this situation:
There is no benefit to us in allowing us to live together.
So wrote Muragakitr, governor of Hakadate.
Not donewithout the participation of other interested Western powers. The governments of England, the USA and France, first of all, noted the military-strategic importance of these lands for Russia. With the support of third countries, Japan began active settlement of the disputed island. The situation escalated and escalated.
Twenty years after the signing of the Shimoda Treaty in 1855, the borders, at the initiative of Japan, were revised. According to the general assessment of historians - in favor of the island power. All the lands of the Kuril ridge were transferred to the possession of the Meiji Empire. The entire territory of Sakhalin, which was de facto Russian, was now de jure under the rule of the Russian Emperor. It was a big strategic and political miscalculation of the treaty signed in 1875.
Peace, friendship… war
All the advantages of the Shimodsky Treaty of 1855, the text of which defined the northern islands as Russian territory, were lost. The position of the Russian fleet became vulnerable, access to the Pacific Ocean was under the threat of a blockade. The militaristic government of the former allies did not miss this opportunity either. In 1904, by attacking Port Arthur, Japan began military operations against Russia, occupying the southern part of the largest island in the archipelago.
One of the consequences of this war was the signing of another treaty, Portsmouth. From that moment on, the entire Kuril ridge became the territory of Japan, and the island with the ancient name Karafuto was cut along the line of the 50th parallel.
Whirlwinds and breaks of the 20th century did not reduce the boiling of passions. After the surrender in 1945, the map was againredrawn, but now without the participation of the losing empire. The Kuril Islands, without exception, and Sakhalin completely came under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Union.
Time to put an end to it
Diplomats and the military, solving global issues of history, forget about the people. Sakhalin is a vivid example of this: people were first forcibly settled, then forcibly deported. For thousands of Japanese on these shores, childhood has passed - they now remember it from afar. For hundreds of thousands of Russians, a lifetime has passed among these hills - Japan's new claims make their future unsettling.
There is hope that all issues will be settled in diplomatic battles and there is no need to resort to weapons. The problems of the present must be solved on the basis of current realities, without using a 160-year-old document for argumentation. The Shimoda treatise should be left for study and as an edification to young diplomats, so that they do not have to work on mistakes later.
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