Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956

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The Soviet Union did not sign the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1951. On October 19, 1956, Japan and the Soviet Union signed a Joint Declaration providing for the end of the state of war, and for restoration of diplomatic relations between USSR and Japan.[1][2] The two parties also agreed to continue negotiations for a peace treaty, including territorial issues. In addition, the Soviet Union pledged to support Japan for the UN membership and waive all World War II reparations claims; the joint declaration was accompanied by a trade protocol that granted reciprocal most-favored-nation treatment and provided for the development of trade. Japan derived few apparent gains from the normalization of diplomatic relations; the second half of the 1950s saw an increase in cultural exchanges.


The Joint Declaration did not settle the Kuril Islands territorial dispute between Japan and the Soviet Union, whose resolution was postponed until the conclusion of a permanent peace treaty. However, Article 9 of the Joint Declaration stated: "The U.S.S.R. and Japan have agreed to continue, after the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between them, negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty. Hereby, the U.S.S.R., in response to the desires of Japan and taking into consideration the interest of the Japanese state, agrees to hand over to Japan the Habomai and the Shikotan Islands, provided that the actual changing over to Japan of these islands will be carried out after the conclusion of a peace treaty".[1]

At the time, the United States threatened to keep Okinawa if Japan gave away the other islands, preventing the negotiation of the promised treaty.[3][4]


On November 14, 2004, the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov along with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, visited Japan. Lavrov said that the Russian Federation, which was the successor state of the Soviet Union, recognized the Declaration of 1956, and was ready to have territorial talks with Japan on that basis.[5] No peace treaty has yet been signed, and the islands remain under Russian administration.

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  1. ^ a b Texts of Soviet–Japanese Statements; Peace Declaration Trade Protocol. New York Times, page 2, October 20, 1956.
    Subtitle: "Moscow, October 19. (UP) – Following are the texts of a Soviet–Japanese peace declaration and of a trade protocol between the two countries, signed here today, in unofficial translation from the Russian". Quote:"The state of war between the U.S.S.R. and Japan ends on the day the present declaration enters into force [...]"
  2. ^ Compendium of Documents
  3. ^ Kimie Hara, 50 Years from San Francisco: Re-Examining the Peace Treaty and Japan's Territorial Problems. Pacific Affairs, Vol. 74, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 361–382. Available online at J-STOR.
  4. ^ Northern Territories dispute highlights flawed diplomacy. By Gregory Clark. Japan Times, March 24, 2005.
  5. ^ Россия и проблема курильских островов. Тактика отстаивания или стратегия сдачи [Russia and the problem of the Kuril Islands],

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