Tokyo claims ownership of the four southern Kuril islands, Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan
and Habomai under the bilateral trade agreement of 1855.
However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan
Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan.
To be precise, the long-standing feud relates to three islands (Iturup/Etorofu, Kunashir/Kunashiri, and Shikotan
) and the rocky Habomai islets (as shown in the graphic above), all of which Russia seized after WWII.
The four isles off Hokkaido, Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan
and the Habomai, were seized by the Soviet Union shortly after Japan surrendered to the Allied powers on Aug.
The dispute over the ownership of the four islands off Hokkaido -- Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan
and the Habomai islet group -- has prevented the two countries from concluding a peace treaty.
The incident took place in waters a few kilometers off Kunashiri Island, one of the four disputed islands east of Hokkaido that also include the islands of Etorofu and Shikotan
and the Habomai group of islets.
Prior to the Etorofu project, Itochu bid for the contract for another power project on Russian-held Shikotan
Island in February 1999.
The two-track approach calls for dialogue on the return of Shikotan
Island and the Habomai group of islets, the smaller of the islands, to take place separately but simultaneously with talks on the fate of the two remaining islands, Kunashiri and Etorofu.
The two-track talks concern conditions for the return of the Habomai group of islets and Shikotan
Island to Japan and the fate of the two other Russian-held islands of Kunashiri and Etorofu located off northern Hokkaido.
Local authorities in Shikotan
-- one of the four Japanese-claimed islands off northern Hokkaido -- on Thursday began cutting electricity supply for 12 hours each day as a result of fuel shortage, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass said.
However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan
islands and a number of uninhibited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.