Abandoned tanks on Shikotan Island
Shikotan, meaning “the best place”, is the largest island of the Lesser Kuril Islands, part of the Sakhalin region. Japan disputes Russia’s ownership of Shikotan; it sees it as part of Nemuro province, Hokkaido prefecture.
Until 1855, the island was part of the Russian Empire. February 7, 1855, according to the Russian-Japanese treaty of trade and boundaries (“Shimoda Treaty”), the island was given to Japan with the rest of the southern Kurils. In 1945, after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the islands were captured by the Soviet Union.
In 1956, the Joint Declaration was signed by the Soviet Union and Japan, which recorded that the USSR agrees to return the islands of Habomai and Shikotan after signing a peace treaty.
In 2004, Russia, as a successor of the USSR recognized the Declaration of 1956 and announced its readiness to conduct territorial negotiations with Japan on its basis. However, a peace treaty between Russia and Japan is not signed until now, the island continues to be a part of Russia.
After World War II, the island was heavily fortified. Plenty of tanks (IS-2, IS-3, T54/55) were brought here to play the role of shore batteries. Today, they don’t have any military importance, but still look great as local landmarks. Shikotan on Google Maps. Photos by: Yuri Maksimov.