Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The controversy between Japan and Russia over the ownership of the Kuril Islands is a significant barrier to improved diplomatic relations in the Far Eastern region. Because of this dispute, Japan and Russia have not yet signed a peace treaty to formally end the second world war and neither side seems willing to make any significant concessions to reach a compromise. The issue of ownership of these islands has been a continuing focal point of Russo-Japanese relations since the two nations first made contact in the late eighteenth century. The various aspects of this dispute are complex and have continued to evolve over time with changes in international law, creeping maritime jurisdiction and the dynamic nature of the breakup of the former Soviet Union. This study analyses the historical and legal facts surrounding the issue of sovereignty and concludes by suggesting how this controversy may be settled.