Disputes over their ownership have caused deep rifts between Russia and Japan, so much so that 70 years after World War II the two countries have never signed a peace treaty.
At the conclusion of the war, the Soviet Union never signed the formal Treaty of Peace with Japan.
Russia controls the territories it calls the Kuril Islands — but Japan claims the rights to them, referring to them as its “Northern Territories”.
“It has to do with Russia anchoring its Pacific fleet in Vladivostok in that region,” Associate Professor Nagy said.
It’s less of a priority for Russia, according to Associate Professor Nagy.