Japan Times

Northern Territories dispute highlights flawed diplomacy
By GREGORY CLARK 2005.03.24
ジャパンタイムズ 2005.03.24

Japan is now in serious territorial disputes with all of its neighbors -- Taiwan, China, South Korea and Russia. True, this could prove there is something wrong with all of Japan's neighbors. But it could also prove that there is something wrong in the way Japan handles territorial problems with its neighbors. There is no clearer example of this than the dispute with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is willing to visit Tokyo this year to negotiate a much delayed peace treaty with Japan on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of Oct. 19, 1956, which promises the return to Japan of the Habomai islets and Shikotan (islands at the southern end of the Kuril archipelago that were occupied by Soviet forces in 1945). But Tokyo says Putin is not welcome unless he promises also to return the two much bigger islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri nearby.

Why should Tokyo today want seriously to amend an agreement it signed and ratified almost 50 years ago? The story begins with Japan's 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty with the Allied Powers. Article 2(c) of the treaty said unequivocally that Japan would renounce all rights, title and claim to the Kuril islands chain (Chishima Retto) and southern Sakhalin (Karafuto) -- territories to the north of Japan that Japan had controlled up till 1945. But Japan's Foreign Ministry insists that Japan never recognized Etorofu and Kunashiri to be included in those renounced Kuril islands.

This Foreign Ministry claim simply is not true. Japanese materials at the time -- Foreign Ministry maps, statements by former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida at San Francisco and in his later memoirs, and newspaper reports all make it clear that Etorofu and Kunashiri were most definitely included.

The chief U.S. negotiator for the San Francisco treaty, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, agreed. Asked at San Francisco to define the territory of the Kurils, he said only that the Habomais might be excluded (at the time there were suggestions that Shikotan might be part of the Kurils).

More was to follow. Questioned in the Diet on Oct. 19, 1951, over whether the word "Kurils" as used in the treaty included Etorofu and Kunashiri, the head of the Foreign Ministry Treaties Bureau, Kumao Nishimura, said unambiguously that both the northern Chishima and southern Chishima (Etorofu and Kunashiri) were included.

So why the insistence now that Japan has every right to demand not just the Habomais and Shikotan but also Etorofu and Kunashiri? More background is needed, and fortunately we do not have to rely on the heavily slanted Foreign Ministry material. We have a remarkably detailed but little-known 227 page book titled "Moscow ni Kakeru Niji" (Rainbow over Moscow -- The Secret Record of Restoring Japan-Soviet Relations, Asahi Shimbunsha, 1966) by Shunichi Matsumoto, a former diplomat and mainstream conservative politician who represented Japan in most of the 15 months of complex negotiations leading to the 1956 joint declaration.

Matsumoto says that when he began the talks in London in June 1955 his brief was simply to demand the return of the Habomais and Shikotan on the grounds that before 1945 the two territories had administratively been part of Hokkaido rather than the Kurils.

The Soviet side rejected this demand, saying both territories were included in the Kurils promised to Moscow at Yalta in February 1945 as a condition for Moscow entering the war against Japan (in Russia, the two territories were called the Lesser Kurils).

But at the 10th meeting on Aug. 9 and coinciding with Soviet moves for detente at the Big Four meeting in Geneva that year, the Soviet side suddenly made a turnabout and said Moscow would consider returning the Habomais and Shikotan if Japan promised that its military alliance with the United States was not directed at any third nation.

Matsumoto duly reported this major breakthrough to Tokyo, only to receive new Foreign Ministry instructions on Aug. 27. This time he was told to demand not just the Habomais and Shikotan but also the unconditional return of Kunashiri and Etorofu as well.

Matsumoto was astounded by this extraordinary shift in position. He blames conservatives in the Foreign Ministry, and in particular ultraconservative Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, for seeking deliberately to sabotage efforts by then-Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama for better relations with Moscow.

He also notes how the shift in position coincided with a meeting in Washington between Shigemitsu and the bitterly anticommunist Dulles, who, he says, also wanted to block any territorial solution with Japan. (Released State Department documents confirm that Dulles as early as January 1955 was urging pressure on Shigemitsu to prevent a settlement on the territorial dispute.)

Moscow predictably rejected the belated Etorofu-Kunashiri claim and the talks spluttered out, only to be revived by Shigemitsu himself, accompanied by Matsumoto, arriving in Moscow in July 29, 1956, for further talks, and creating yet another extraordinary volte-face also conveniently ignored by the Foreign Ministry materials.

Shigemitsu had begun with a strident demand for all four territories -- the Habomais, Shikotan, Etorofu and Kunashiri (what Japan was beginning to call its "Northern Territories." ) But in the face of blunt Soviet rejections and explanations, he suddenly about faced and on Aug. 12 declared that he would sign a peace treaty on Soviet conditions, i.e., he would accept the Habomais and Shikotan, and drop the demand for Etorofu and Kunashiri.

Problem over? Not quite.

Shigemitsu was immediately summoned to London for talks on the 1956 Suez Canal crisis and on Aug. 19 met Dulles again. According to Matsumoto, an ashen-faced Shigemitsu returned from the meeting saying, "Dulles has said something completely terrible (mattaku hidoi). He said if Japan lets the Soviet Union keep Etorofu and Kunashiri the U.S. will make Okinawa its own territory."

Dulles' threat worked. Shigemitsu returned to Tokyo and the talks could only be revived by Hatoyama himself visiting Moscow a month later. Once again there was impasse over territory claims, but both sides agreed on a Joint Declaration to restore diplomatic relations and to hold further talks on a peace treaty, with the promise of the Habomais and Shikotan to be returned if and when the treaty was signed. Despite strong Japanese pressures, there was no mention of continued talks about territory.

True, there are reasons why Tokyo has found itself caught up in this mishmash of contradictions. From the start, many Japanese conservatives, including Shigeru Yoshida, were not happy about the territorial renunciations at San Francisco. They insisted that history proved how Japan had gained control of the Kurils peacefully. Some even insisted that southern Sakhalin (Karafuto), taken from czarist Russia after the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5, was also gained "peacefully." In particular, they were very unhappy about having to renounce all rights to the southern Kuril islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri, arguing that this "traditional territory" had never been controlled by Russia.

But having been forced at San Francisco formally to renounce all these territories, all the conservatives could do by way of a comeback was to note that there was no mention of to whom these territories had been renounced. They called for an international conference to decide the question, and hoped that somehow in the process Japan could regain not just the Habomais and Shikotan, but also some other renounced territories -- Etorofu and Kunashiri in particular. Part of Matsumoto's original 1955 brief had been to demand such a conference.

But the unexpected Soviet offer of the Habomais and Shikotan in August 1955 threw this strategy into disarray. So Foreign Ministry conservatives had to move quickly to stake out the claim to the Etorofu and Kunashiri territories they had wanted all along. In the process they were forced suddenly to insist that Japan had never renounced its rights to Etorofu and Kunashiri, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

The twists and turns do not end there.

Etorofu and Kunashiri are always called Minami (southern) Chishima in Japanese. And since the Japanese version of the San Francisco treaty says Japan renounced all rights to Chishima Retto, it stands to reason that it had also renounced Minami Chishima.

To get round this rather incriminating detail, the Foreign Ministry had to begin to emphasize how the English version of the San Francisco treaty uses the word Kuril Islands. This, it insists, can refer only to the Northern Kurils. Why? Because that was the alleged meaning of the Russian word "Kuril" in 19th-century treaties with Japan. This, despite the fact that at San Francisco, Minami Chishima was always translated by the Japanese side as "Southern Kurils."

The Matsumoto book spots the first sign of the Chishima/Kuril vocabulary change in Aug. 30, 1955. Soon after, in October, Tokyo officially sought the U.S., British and French view of this change. Only Washington offered a glimpse of support by suggesting reference to the International Court of Justice -- a move that Tokyo has pointedly declined to endorse. The British, whose Tokyo embassy had in now-released documents described the Japanese change as "curious and naive," were fairly negative. The French were very negative, making pointed reference to the record of discussions at San Francisco.

True, the U.S. was much more supportive in later 1956-57 statements, but by then it had every reason to want to be supportive. Needless to say, Tokyo today repeats constantly what the U.S. had to say in 1956-57, ignoring anything that happened beforehand. It also has to clutch at vague straws claiming Moscow has at various times since 1956 promised further talks on territory -- talks that from the Russian point of view could simply be intended to put an end to Japan's various claims.

The Foreign Ministry position in all this is understandable. For as the saying puts it, "diplomats are honest people sent out to lie for their country." What is alarming is the ease with which not just public but intellectual opinion in this country has been mobilized to provide full support for the shaky Foreign Ministry position.

The few who suggest a "two-island solution" -- that Japan should receive the Habomais and Shikotan and leave Etorofu and Kunashiri for the future -- are quickly silenced. Very occasionally, when the Kumao Nishimura statement is raised, we are told that it was "mistaken," or for "domestic consumption only," or "later retracted."

Washington's role in all this is even more "curious." Why in 1951, at the height of the Korean War and its anti-Soviet hysteria, did it force a reluctant Japan to renounce all claim to all the Kuril islands? Professor Kimitada Miwa of Sophia University suggests it was due to a secret 1947 Washington-Moscow deal to guarantee Soviet support in the United Nations for U.S. control over Micronesia.

My own research says it had something to do with pressure from a bitterly anti-Japan Canberra determined to see Japan stripped of all its prewar possessions. Others say it was a skillful Dulles plot to force Tokyo and Moscow into decades of confrontation, or to preserve the Yalta framework for the sake of Europe, especially for Austria, which was still partly under Soviet occupation.

Be all that as it may, the U.S., which in 1951 had forced Japan to renounce all claim to the Kurils, including Etorofu and Kunashiri, in 1956 was able to threaten to turn Okinawa into a U.S. colony if Japan did not maintain all claim to the Kurils, including Etorofu and Kunashiri. Machiavelli would have been proud of that.

Interestingly, the only Japanese who seem able to see the problem in perspective are at totally different ends of the ideological spectrum -- the Japanese Communist Party and the extreme right, including Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. Both blame Washington for the current mess. Both say that Japan should stop fussing about Etorofu and Kunashiri and go on to claim all of the Kurils as its "traditional territory."

The Foreign Ministry could easily back them up by releasing still unclassified documents in which Japan in 1951 strongly protested U.S. pressure to renounce the Kurils, including Etorofu and Kunashiri, and by pointing out how Japan was still under U.S. occupation. But if it did that, its claim that Japan never renounced Etorofu and Kunashiri would automatically be undercut. The chickens would finally have come home to roost.

このところ日本は、すべての近隣国― 台湾、中国、韓国、ロシア―と深刻な領土紛争を起こしている。これは、たしか、日本の近隣諸国がこぞってまちがいを犯している可能性はある。だが一方、近隣諸国との領土問題の対処において日本がまちがっている可能性もある。それを最も端的に表しているのがロシアとの紛争だ。


 なぜ日本は、ほぼ50年も前に調印し批准した協定を書き換える事に、今それほどこだわるのか。話は、1951年日本と連合国とのサンフランシスコ平和条約にはじまる。条約の第2条(c)は、日本は千島列島と南樺太― 日本の北方にあり、1945年まで日本が支配していたム に関するすべての権利、権原、請求権を放棄すると疑問の余地なく記している。ところが日本の外務省は、日本は択捉と国後がその放棄した千島列島に含まれていると認めたことは一度もないと強調する。

 外務省のこの主張は完全に間違っている。当時の日本側のすべての資料― 外務省の諸地図、吉田茂元首相のサンフランシスコにおける演説や発言やその後のメモワール、新聞記事・報道など― は択捉と国後がそこに含まれることを決定的に確認している。

 サンフランシスコ条約のアメリカ側交渉団長であるジョン・フォスター・ダレス国務長官が同意している。サンフランシスコでクリール(千島列島)の定義を質問されて、 ダレスは、歯舞は除外される可能性があるとだけ答えている。(当時は色丹は千島列島の一部である可能性があるという話があった。)


 ではなぜ、今になって、日本は歯舞と色丹だけでなく択捉、国後まで要求する十分な権利があると主張し得るのか。もう少し詳しい背景を知る必要がある。幸いなことに、客観性に大きく欠ける外務省資料に頼らなくともよい。ここに見事なまでに詳細に事実経過が書かれた、しかもあまり知られていない227ページの本がある。もと外交官、保守本流政治家で、1956年日ソ共同宣言にいたるまでの15ヵ月にわたる複雑な交渉の大部分を日本代表として務めた松本俊一の著書「モスクワにかける虹ム日ソ国交回復秘録(朝日新聞社 1966)である。








 重光は冒頭から四島返還要求― 歯舞、色丹、択捉、国後(日本が北方領土と呼び始めた島々)ムを強く主張した。だが、ソ連側のそっけない拒否と説明に会い、重光は突然回れ右をし、8月12日にはソ連の条件に沿ってム つまり歯舞と色丹を受け入れ、択捉と国後の要求は取り下げてム 平和条約を結ぶと宣言した。




 ところがサンフランシスコでこれらの島すべてを正式に放棄させられて、保守派がカムバックとしてできることは唯一、これらの領土が誰に対して放棄させられたのかが明記されていないことを指摘することしかなかった。彼らはこの問題を決定するために、国際会議を呼びかけ、そしてその過程で、何とかして、日本は歯舞と色丹だけでなく、放棄した他の領土― とくに択捉、国後― を取り戻すことを期待した。松本が1955年時点で指令されていたことの一部にはこのような会議を要求することも含まれていた。




外務省は、このようなつじつまの合わない事実を回避するために、次にはサンフランシスコ条約の英語版はクリール・アイランズという語を使用していると強調しなければならなくなった。これは、彼らによると、北千島のみを指すのだという。なぜか。なぜならば、日本との19世紀の条約では、ロシア語のクリールはその意味だったから、との言い分だ。 サンフランシスコでは、日本側は、南千島をつねにメサザン・クリールズモと翻訳していたにもかかわらず、である。

 松本の著書は、1955年8月30日における千島/クリールの語彙の改変の、最初の兆候を指摘した本だ。その後まもなく10月に日本は公式に、この改変に関してアメリカ、イギリス、フランス、の見解を求めている。アメリカだけが、国際司法裁判所に問うことム 日本はかたくなに拒否してきた行動ム を示唆しつつ、この件へ支持をかすかにほのめかしている。イギリスは東京の大使館が、現在では公開された資料によると、日本の改変はメ奇妙であり子供っぽいモと表現し、かなり否定的である。フランスは非常に否定的で、サンフランシスコにおける討議の記録を引き合いに出して、手きびしい。


 このような状況の中で、外務省の立場は理解できるものである。よくいわれるように“外交官とは自分の国のために嘘をいうために派遣されている正直な人々のことである”のだから。驚くべきは、一般大衆だけでなく知識階級の意見も、この国ではぐらつく外務省の立場を完全サポートするために簡単に動員されてしまうことだ。 “二島返還”― 日本は歯舞と色丹を返してもらい、国後、択捉は将来に残しておく― を示唆する少数の人々は早々と口を封じられた。ごくまれに西村熊雄の言明が取り上げられると、“あれは間違いだった”とか“国内向け”とか“あとで撤回された”などと説明された。

 この過程の中で、アメリカの役割はさらに“奇妙”である。なぜ1951年、朝鮮戦争やアメリカの反ソ・ヒステリーの真っ最中に、アメリカは渋る日本に、全千島返還要求放棄を強要したのか。上智大学の三輪公忠教授は、それが1947年の米ソ秘密取引ム 国連においてアメリカのミクロネシア支配に向けてソ連の支持を確保するための戦術ム に基づいているかもしれないと示唆している。



興味深いことに、唯一この問題を全面的視野でとらえていると見られる日本人は、イデオロギー的構図では正反対の端にいた。― 日本共産党と東京都知事石原慎太郎をふくむ極右派である。両者とも、現在の混乱の原因はアメリカの責任だとする。両者とも、日本は択捉、国後についてがたがた言わずに日本の“固有の領土”として千島列島全域を要求し続けていくべきだとする。