The Northern Pacific Fishery: A Case Study of Soviet-Japanese Economic Relations

Yasushi Toda


In the nineteenth century, the Japanese first came into contact with the Russians in the fishery in the north seas. The Japanese expansion continued after the signing of the Kuril-Sakhalin Exchange Treaty in 1875 and led to the acquisition of Japanese fishing rights in the Russian territories of Kamchatka and Sakhalin as specified in the Portsmouth Treaty in 1905. The active Japanese fishery in these areas remained basically unchanged after the Bolshevik Revolution and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 1925. The San Francisco Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers that ended World War II and the post-war occupation was not signed by the Soviet Union. The 1956 negotiations aimed at restoring diplomatic relations between Japan and the Soviet Union resulted in a deadlock primarily because of the dispute over the Northern Territories, specifically the islands at the southern end of the Kuril Chain. Despite the fact that the territorial issue remained unresolved, the Japanese decided on a partial restoration of diplomatic relations. Their decision was prompted partially by the desire to return to the Sakhalin, Okhotsk and West Bering Sea areas to exploit the fishery.

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