from 'The Kuril Islands - Russo-Japanese Frontiers In The Pacific' by John J. Stephan , Clarendon Press , Oxford , © 1974 , ISBN 0 19 821563 0
NOTE - This resume follows the course of the book's narrative and thus may not always represent a chronological framework ...
I have added my own notes, comments, clarifications and questions in places, though mainly at the end.
NB Great Britain and France claimed the Kuril Islands in a virtually forgotten episode of the Crimean War (see later for details)
1855 Treaty of Shimoda Japan and Russia agreed to divide the arc between Iturup and Urup , the Japanese taking the Southern and the Russians the Northern portion .
1875 Treaty of St. Petersburg Russia abandoned all claims to the Kuril Islands in return for assuming Japan's rights to Sakhalin
1945 Soviet conquest and annexation of the Kuril Islands
Between 1875 and 1945 the entire arc constituted an integral part of the Japanese homeland , as opposed to S. Sakhalin which after 1905 was administered as a colonial possession .
As long as Japan possessed the Kurils , Russia's posture in the Far East suffered serious disabilities . The chain not only isolated Kamchatka and Chukutskii from the Maritime Provinces but denied Vladivostock-based ships unrestricted access to the Pacific .
In acquiring the Kurils and S Sakhalin in 1945 the Soviet Union gained a more advantageous geographical base from which to play a major role in the Pacific basin .
Kurils were viewed in Japan as her 'northern territories'
For nearly 2 centuries the Japanese had thought of the Kurils as an avenue of Russia's Southward expansion.
Ainu names for the Kuril Islands -
|Ushishir||land of bays|
|Rakkoshima||sea otter isles|
|Ezo ga Chishima||where 'ezo' refers generically to 'unidentified barbarians' and 'chishima' means 'thousand islands' (the Japanese name today for the Kurils)|
So , Iturup , Kunashir , Shikotan and the Haboma Islands off the North of Hokkaido were Japanese from 1855's Treaty of Shimoda
The others were Japanese from 1875's Treaty of St Petersburg
- Simushir , Urup , Brat Chirpoev , Chirpoi , Broutona , Ketoi , Ushishir , Rasshua , Matua , Raikoke , Lovushki , Shiashkotan , Ekarma , Chirinkotan , Kharimkotan , Onekotan , Makanrushi , Paramushir , Alaid and Shumshu (which is the island most near Cape Lopatka of Kamchatka)
1821 Tsar Alexander I's ukase (decree) determined/identified Russia's territorial claims , being from the South cape of Urup Northwards
1822 St Petersburg dispatched the first permanent naval squadron to the Pacific to enforce the Tsar's decree . Its flagship , the frigate Apollon , is commonly seen as the ancestor to the Pacific Fleet
Note - The Tsar's decree came as a result of American and British whaling and other commercial expeditions into the Sea of Okhotsk
1844 Captain Gennadi Nevelskoi 'discovered' (as far as Russia was concerned ; Japan already knew it) 'Sakhalin's insularity' (i.e. it was not attached to the mainland) and revealed that the Amur River , hitherto regarded as having no navigable outlet to the sea , was a potentially valuable artery connecting Siberia to the Pacific
1854 With the nod of Tsar Nikolai I , the dynamic governor-general of Eastern Siberia , Count Nikolai Muraviev , blithely disregarded the Treaty of Nerchinsk (signed with China 1689) and sent troops and settlers into the Amur basin . He also occupied Sakhalin
This was a mix of predatory expansion and defensive considerations (against British and American incursions/presence)
Between 1853 and 1855 occurred Admiral Evfimii Putiatin's expeditions to Japan. These had 3 objectives -
(Putiatin's 2nd Nagasaki visit occurred between 3rd January and 5th February 1854)
October 1854 Putiatin returned to resume negotiations at Shimoda
The Crimean War had broken out 28th March 1854 . Powerful Anglo-French squadrons were prowling the Seas of Okhotsk and Japan in a stubborn search for Russian warships and merchantmen.
Putatin was obliged to conduct negotiations with one eye on the horizon lest Anglo-French forces discovered his whereabouts.
Worse , a tidal wave devastated his flagship leaving the Russians stranded on alien soil.
Demarcation of the frontier in the Kurils between Iturup and Urup
Sakhalin was declared a joint Russo-Japanese possession ; its final disposition was left to a future settlement
Embarrassing gaffes and costly fiascos of the Anglo-French attacks in the Far East during the Crimean War -
1862 , 1867 Japan pressed its rights by appeals to St Petersburg
1869/70 Japan proposed arbitration by the United States , again unsuccessfully
Each (Russia and Japan) offered to buy out the other's rights to the island
Each sent troops to rub shoulders on disputed acreage
1866 Russia offered to give up Urup and 3 other islands in return for Sakhalin
1870s Japan could hardly afford a showdown with Russia
7th May 1875 Treaty of St Petersburg
Signed by Admiral Enomoto Buyo
and Prince Aleksandr Gorchakov
Russia acquired Sakhalin
Japan acquired the Kuril Islands from Urup to Shumshu and commercial privileges in the Sea of Okhotsk's littoral
Some Japanese viewed the cession of Sakhalin for the Northern Kuril Islands as an exchange of Japanese territory for Japanese territory
1871 Japan annexed the Ryukyu Archipelago
1875 Japan annexed the Ogasawara Islands
1874 Japan's expedition against Formosa
Japan generally administered the Kuril Islands as part of Hokkaido
1873 Hokkaido Colonial Office acted against poaching by establishing observation posts on Iturup .
Shortly thereafter Tokyo authorised the commissioning of a gunboat to patrol Kurilian waters
The Foreign Ministry declared Japan's territorial waters to extend 12 km from shore
(Today there are seal rookeries on Raikoke , Antsiferov , Lovushko , Svedniova)
When the Japanese took over the North part of the Kurils in 1875 they found an aboriginal people who had lived under Russian rule for a century . They spoke and dressed like Russians and adorned their pit dwellings with portraits of the tsar and Virgin Mary , and gave every appearance of professing the Orthodox faith ; they even drank and swore like Russians .
6th June 1904
Gunji (pioneer settler of Shumshu) decided to join the Russo-Japanese War and launch an invasion of Kamchatka . From a miniature armada of trawlers 100 men placed the fishing village of Ozernoe under martial law .
A detachment of Russian infantry marched from Petropavlosk to Ozernoe and the lieutenant and his companions spent the duration of the war in a local blockhouse .
Japan gained South Sakhalin
Awarded Japan extensive fishing rights along both coasts of Kamchatka = resulted in the remarkable growth of Japan's Northern Pacific fishing operations during the next 35 years
(In some quarters Gunji's 'expedition' plus a letter he smuggled out of prison to the negotiators in America are credited with raising the profile of the fishing question in the Northern waters and ensuring that gains in this respect were incorporated in the Treaty)
The strategic importance of the Kurils achieved new significance after the middle of the 19th century because of :
The purchase of Alaska and the Aleutians in 1867 by the U.S.A. (from Russia) advanced the United States to within 1000 km of Shumshu
The acquisition of the Northern Kurils in 1875 completed Japan's enclosure of the Sea of Okhotsk and cut Russia's Siberian coastline into two segments at Cape Lopaka (S. Kamchatka) . Ships from Vladivostock were obliged to negotiate Japanese-controlled straits to reach the Pacific and even local routes around Kamchatka led through one of the narrow apertures of the Kuril chain .
The Kurils were at a junction of American , Russian and Japanese territory
1882 Japan dispatched a gunboat to Nemuro (N. Hokkaido ; was this the same act mentioned before ?)
During the Russo-Japanese War the Imperial Japanese Navy posted temporary lookouts along the arc.
|Kurilskie ostrova||Chishima retto|
|Malaia Kkurilskaia griada||Hobomai shoto & Shikotan|
|Rasshua||Rasuwa (or Rashowa)|
|Ushishir||Ushishiru (or Ushichi)|
Henceforth the boundaries between Russia and Japan will pass between the islands of Etorofu (Iturup) and Uruppu (Urup) . The whole island of Etorofu belongs to Japan and the whole island of Uruppu and the other Kuril Islands to the North constitute possessions of Russia . As regards the island Karafuto (Sakhalin) , it remains unpartitioned between Russia and Japan , as has been the case up to this time .
In exchange for the cession to Russia of the rights on the island of Sakhalin , stipulated in the first article , His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias , for Himself and His descendants , cedes to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan the group of the Kuril Islands which he possesses at present , together with all the rights of sovereignty appertaining to this possession , so that henceforth the said group of Kuril Islands shall belong to the Empire of Japan . This group comprises the following eighteen islands : 1) Shimushu , 2) Araido , 3) Paramushiru , 4) Mmakanrushi , 5) Onekotan , 6) Harumukotan , 7) Ekaruma , 8) Shasukotan , 9) Mushiru , 10) Rraikoke , 11) Matsuwa , 12) Rashuwa , 13) Suride and Ushishiru , 14) Ketoi , 15) Shimushiru , 16) Buroton , 17) Cherupoi and Buratto Cherupoefu (Chirihoi or Chiornye Bratia) , 18) Uuruppu , so that the boundary between the Empires of Russia and Japan in these areas shall pass through the Strait between Cape Lopatka of the peninsular of Kamchatka and the island of Shimushu .
The residents of the territories ceded from one and the other , the Russian and Japanese subjects , may retain their nationality and return to their respective countries ; but if they prefer to remain in the ceded territories , they shall be allowed to stay and shall receive protection in the full exercise of their industry , their right of property and religion , on the same footing as the nationals , provided that they submit to the laws and jurisdiction of the country to which the possession of the respective territories passes .
a) The inhabitants of the territories ceded from one and the other , the Russian and Japanese subjects , who desire to remain domiciled in the localities which they occupy at present , shall be maintained in the full exercise of their industries. They shall retain the right of fishery and hunting within the limits belonging to them and shall be exempted from any tax on their respective industries for the rest of their life .
b) The Japanese subjects who will remain on the island of Sakhalin and the Russian subjects who will remain on the Kuril Islands shall be maintained and protected in the full exercise of their present right of property . Certificates shall be given to them , confirming their right of usufruct and ownership of the immovable properties in their possession .
c) A full and perfect freedom of religion is accorded to the Japanese subjects residing on the island of Sakhalin , as well as to the Russian subjects remaining on the Kuril Islands . The Churches , temples and cemeteries shall be respected .
d) The aborigines of Sakhalin as well as of the Kurils shall not enjoy the right to remain domiciled in the localities which they now occupy and at the same time to keep their present subjection . If they desire to remain subject to their present Government they must leave their domicile and go to the territory belonging to their Sovereign ; if they wish to remain domiciled in the localities which they occupy at present , they must change their subjection . They shall be given , however , a period of three years from the date of their notification of this supplementary treaty for making a decision on this matter . During these three years , they shall maintain the right of fishery , hunting and any other industry which they have been engaged in until this day , on the same conditions as regards privileges and obligations which have existed for them until now on the island of Sakhalin and on the Kuril Islands , but during all this time they shall be subject to local laws and regulations . At the expiration of this term , the aborigines who are domiciled in the territories reciprocally ceded , shall become the subjects of the Government , to which the ownership of the territory will pass.
e) A full and perfect freedom of religion is accorded to all the aborigines of the island of Sakhalin and of the Kuril Islands . The temples and the cemeteries shall be respected .
Note - In practice the Japanese desired that the Ainu population of the Northern Kurils reside in the Southernmost islands closer to Japan and removed the population to a readymade village there . However , a mixture of poor agricultural conditions and melancholy resulted in a rapid decline in population. The Ainu were also obliged to adopt Japanese surnames , although amongst themselves they retained their Russified names .
I've decided to put the additional information here at the end rather than in the main body of the text , because I am not sure how some of the details fit in . I will highlight the apparent discrepancies as I go along -
Question 1. If Putiatin's flagship was wrecked by earthquake/tidal wave in 1852 , then this can hardly have happened in 1854 while he was at Shimoda . Which is correct ? Also , his expeditions to Japan are listed in the book above as being from 1853 to 1855 , so where does 1852 fit into this ?
The facts bringing these questions up are -
1852 The ?frigate Diana carried Putiatin and was badly damaged by an earthquake/tidal wave off the coast of Japan where he was forced to land . He helped the Japanese build a ship-building area and arranged for them to build him 2 schooners so that he could return to Russia .
1854 The frigate Pallada carried Putiatin around the Northern Pacific where he discovered and named Port Lazarev . He almost got into a fight with the American admiral Perry in February 1854 at Okinawa . Putiatin also had with him the steamer Vostock and a 24-gun corvette.
1857 In November , on board the 6-gun U.S.-built paddle-steamer Amerika , and with some 80 river craft , Putiatin journeyed to China to inform the Chinese that Russia had taken the Amur Province , and also that China should accept the new status ; in return Russia would act as a go-between of the Western powers (England , France and to a lesser extent America) to prevent them from destroying China during the Second Opium War
(Please note that I am wholly indebted for the information presented in this annex ; if I present it verbatim it is because it was succinctly put in the original !)
Question 2 ; 1854 was at the height of the Crimean War with Anglo-French squadrons prowling looking for Russian warships to engage and destroy . Given that , what was Putiatin doing in Okinawa in 1854 ? America was neutral in the Crimean War . Had Okinawa been annexed/claimed by Japan at this date ? If not what was the status of the two foreign expeditions to it ?
Question 3 ; re the 1857 journey of the Amerika , were the other craft present because Putiatin expected trouble , or for a show of force , or a combination of both ? If Muraviev entered the Amur basin in 1854 did it take till 1857 for this to be fully sustainable and for the Tsar to authorise someone to put it officially to the Chinese ? I'm just wondering here ...>