Japan reaffirms sovereignty over Kuril islands, annexed by Russia in 1945

The Kuril islands runs from Japan to Russia, separating the Okhotsk sea from the Pacific ocean. Annexed by Russia after World War II and administered by it since, the southernmost islands in the chain remain a Japanese claim—and on Monday, the long-running feud erupted with an unusually forthright announcement by Japan’s prime minister.

“The Northern Territories are a territory that belongs to Japan, a territory over which Japan has sovereignty,” the Japanese Prime Minister said.

On one hand, this is a return to language Japan used to use during the cold war. On the other hand, Russia has gone all-in on its Ukraine war—”nearly 100 percent of the Russian combat power prestaged at the Ukrainian border are now committed to the fight”—and Japan is suggesting that Russia couldn’t do anything to stop Japan from taking the Kurils*.

* Short of nuclear war. And what an asterisk that is!