The former president of Russia has made new comments regarding land claims by Japan to four islands that have been held by the former since World War II. Dmitry Medvedev, who currently serves as the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, is known for being a dedicated supporter of current President Vladimir Putin, and his most recent statements align with a policy passed by the Kremlin in 2020, regarding the transfer of Russian-held territory.
Medvedev made the comments on X (formerly Twitter) on January 30, 2024, and they followed a town hall earlier in the month, during which Putin said he was planning to visit the Kuril Islands, off the coast of Hokkaido. The quartet – Shikotan, Etorofu, the Habomai Islands and Kunashiri – are known by Japan as the “Northern Territories.”
Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Red Army launched an invasion of the Kuril Islands, with 15,000 members with the 2nd Far East Front and the Soviet Pacific Fleet taking on approximately 80,000 troops with the 5th Area Army of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA).
The ongoing annexation of the Northern Territories has been a source of tension between Russia and China, with both countries currently without a peace treaty. Negotiations were occurring up until the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War, at which point Russia suspended all talks after Japan imposed economic sanctions.
While Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida still has hope a treaty can be signed, discussing the possibility in a recent speech, the same can’t be said by Medvedev, who said Russia doesn’t “give a d**n about the feelings of the Japanese concerning the so-called ‘Northern territories'” and that the “‘territorial question’ is closed once and for all in accordance with the Constitution of Russia.”
Medvedev’s comments regarding the constitution refer to an amendment passed in 2020, which prevents the transfer of territory to a foreign nation. The former president added that “these are not ‘disputed territories’ but Russia,” and accused Japan of getting close to the United States, despite the atomic bombings in August 1945.
Japan has previously expressed concerns over Russia increasing its military presence in the Northern Territories, while the latter has spoken out about the former’s military exercises near Hokkaido with the likes of the US and Hokkaido.