Habomai Islands

Last updated
Habomai Islands
Disputed islands
Other names: Russian: Малые Курилы; Japanese: 歯舞群島, romanized: Habomai guntō
Habomai 01.jpg
Khabomai Rocks from space
Russia edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 43°30′N146°8′E / 43.500°N 146.133°E / 43.500; 146.133
Archipelago Kuril Islands
Total islands10 + several rocks
Area100 km2
Administered by
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia
Federal subject Sakhalin Oblast
District Yuzhno-Kurilsky
Claimed by
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan
Prefecture Hokkaido
Subprefecture Nemuro

The Habomai Islands (Russian: Хабомаи (Khabomai), Japanese: 歯舞群島 (Habomai guntō) or 歯舞諸島 (Habomai shotō) are a group of islets in the southernmost Kuril Islands. They are currently under Russian administration, but together with Iturup (Etorofu), Kunashir (Kunashiri), and Shikotan are claimed by Japan.



Map including Habomi Shoto (DMA, 1990) Nk-55-2-shikotanto-japan.pdf
Map including Habomi Shotō (DMA, 1990)

In 1732 it was mapped during the Russian Great Eastern Expedition.

The Treaty of Shimoda, signed by Russia and Japan in 1855, gave Japan ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and the Habomai Islands. [1]

The Habomai Islands were occupied by Soviet forces in the last few days of World War II. The islands were eventually annexed by the Soviet Union, which deported all the island residents to Japan. [1] Moscow claimed the islands as part of a war-time agreement between the Allies (Yalta Agreement), which provided for the transfer of the Chishima (Kurile) Islands to the USSR in return for its participation in the Pacific War. However, Japan maintains that the Habomai Islands are not part of the Kuriles and are in fact part of Hokkaido prefecture. On May 26, 1955, the United States submitted an application for proceedings against the Soviet Union. As part of the proceedings, the United States questioned the validity of the Soviet Union's claim to the Habomai Islands. [2]

In 1956, after difficult negotiations, the Soviet Union agreed to cede the Habomai to Japan, along with Shikotan, after the conclusion of a peace treaty between the two countries. [3] As the treaty was never concluded, the islands remained under Soviet jurisdiction. However, the promise of a two-island solution (for the purpose of simplicity, the Habomai rocks count as one island) has been renewed in the Soviet-Japanese, and later Russo-Japanese negotiations.

Formerly home to a Japanese fishing community, the islands are now uninhabited except for the Russian border guard outpost.

View of the Habomai Islands from Cape Nosappu (March 26, 2005). Habomai-islands PANORAMA.png
View of the Habomai Islands from Cape Nosappu (March 26, 2005).

List of islands

Island Japanese name Russian name Ainu transcription(s)Area
Highest point
Latitude NLongitude EDistance from Cape Nosappu [4]
Shikotan 色丹島
Shikotan tō
Остров Шикотанsi-kotan (Big village)255412.643°47'146°44'73.3
Spangberg channel(Habomai islands are shown below.)
Shikotan channel
Oskolki 海馬島
Kaibajima, Todojima
Остров Осколкиtodo-mosir (Steller sea lion island)1.53843°34'146°24'
Polonskogo 多楽島
Taraku tō
Остров Полонскогоtorar-uk (Take in the strap)11.692543°37'146°19'45.5
Chayka rock カブ島
Kabu tō
Скала Чайка
Petsernaya カナクソ岩
Kanakuso iwa
Скала Пещерная
Shishki カブト島
Kabuto tō
Острова Шишки
Polonskogo channel
Taraku channel
Zelyony 志発島
Shibotsu tō
Остров Зелёныйsipe-op (A place where a shoal of Chum salmon)58.34543°29'146°09'25.5
Vojeikov channel
Shibotsu channel
Demina 春苅島
Harukaru tō
Острова Дёминаharu-kar-kotan (Village of harvesting Cardiocrinum cordatum bulbs)23443°25'146°10'
Yuri 勇留島
Yuri tō
Остров Юрийurir (Cormorant island)1043°25'146°04'16.6
Yuri channel
Anuchina 秋勇留島
Akiyuri tō
Остров Анучинаaki-urir (Yuri's young brother)53343°21'146°00'13.7
Tanfilyeva 水晶島
Suishō tō
Остров Танфильеваsi-so (Big bare rock)211543°26'145°55'7.2
Storozhevoy 萌茂尻島
Moemoshiri tō
Остров Сторожевойmoi-mosir (A calm island)0.0711.843°23'145°53'6.0
Rifovy オドケ島
Odoke tō
Остров Рифовый0.0013.643°23'145°52'
Signalny 貝殻島
Остров Сигнальныйkay-ka-ra-i (Low thing above the wave)43°23'145°51'3.7
Goyōmai channel
Sovetskiy channel
Cape Nosappu, Hokkaido

Related Research Articles

Kuril Islands

The Kuril Islands or Kurile Islands is a volcanic archipelago in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast that stretches approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) northeast from Hokkaido, Japan to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the north Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many minor rocks. It consists of the Greater Kuril Chain and the Lesser Kuril Chain. The total land area is 10,503.2 square kilometres (4,055.3 sq mi), and the total population is 19,434.

Kuril Islands dispute Disagreement between Japan and Russia over sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands

The Kuril Islands dispute, also known in Japan as the Northern Territories dispute, is a disagreement between Japan and Russia and also some individuals of the Ainu people over sovereignty of the four southernmost Kuril Islands. The Kuril Islands is a chain of islands that stretch between the Japanese island of Hokkaido at the southern end and the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula at the northern end. The islands separate the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean. The four disputed islands, like other islands in the Kuril chain that are not in dispute, were annexed by the Soviet Union following the Kuril Islands landing operation at the end of World War II. The disputed islands are under Russian administration as the South Kuril District of the Sakhalin Oblast. They are claimed by Japan, which refers to them as its Northern Territories or Southern Chishima, and considers them part of the Nemuro Subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture.

Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875)

The Treaty of Saint Petersburg between the Empire of Japan and Empire of Russia was signed on 7 May 1875, and its ratifications exchanged at Tokyo on 22 August 1875. The treaty itself went into effect in 1877.

Nemuro Subprefecture Place in Hokkaido

Nemuro is a subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan. Japan claims the southern parts of the disputed Kuril Islands as part of this subprefecture.

Invasion of the Kuril Islands

The Invasion of the Kuril Islands was the World War II Soviet military operation to capture the Kuril Islands from Japan in 1945. The invasion was part of the Soviet–Japanese War, and was decided on when plans to land on Hokkaido were abandoned. The successful military operations of the Red Army at Mudanjiang and during the Invasion of South Sakhalin created the necessary prerequisites for invasion of the Kuril Islands.

Kunashir Island

Kunashir Island, possibly meaning Black Island or Grass Island in Ainu, is the southernmost island of the Kuril Islands archipelago. The island is currently under Russian control, though Japan also claims the island.

Shikotan Disputed island in the Kurils

Shikotan, also known as Shpanberg, is an island in the Kurils administered by the Russian Federation as part of Yuzhno-Kurilsky District of Sakhalin Oblast. It is claimed by Japan as the nominal Shikotan District, part of Nemuro Subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture.

Chishima Province was a province of Japan created during the Meiji Era. It originally contained the Kuril Islands from Kunashiri northwards, and later incorporated Shikotan as well. Its original territory is currently occupied by Russia, and its later territory was renounced in the San Francisco Treaty except the southernmost four islands.

The Soviet Union did not sign the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1951. On October 19, 1956, Japan and the Soviet Union signed a Joint Declaration providing for the end of the state of war, and for restoration of diplomatic relations between USSR and Japan. The two parties also agreed to continue negotiations for a peace treaty. In addition, the Soviet Union pledged to support Japan for the UN membership and waive all World War II reparations claims. The joint declaration was accompanied by a trade protocol that granted reciprocal most-favored-nation treatment and provided for the development of trade. Japan derived few apparent gains from the normalization of diplomatic relations. The second half of the 1950s saw an increase in cultural exchanges.

Japan–Soviet Union relations Diplomatic relations between Japan and Soviet Union

Relations between the Soviet Unionand Japan between the Communist takeover in 1917 and the collapse of Communism in 1991 tended to be hostile. Japan had sent troops to counter the Bolshevik presence in Russia's Far East during the Russian Civil War, and both countries had been in opposite camps during World War II and the Cold War. In addition, territorial conflicts over the Kuril Islands and South Sakhalin were a constant source of tension. These, with a number of smaller conflicts, prevented both countries from signing a peace treaty after World War II, and even today matters remain unresolved.

Japan–Russia relations Diplomatic relations between Japan and Russia

Japan–Russia relations or Japanese–Russian relations refers to the bilateral international relations between Japan and the Russian Federation. Relations between Russia and Japan are the continuation of the relationship of Japan with the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991, and with the Russian Empire from 1855 to 1917. Historically, the two countries had cordial relations until a clash of territorial ambitions in the Manchuria region of northeastern China led to the Russo–Japanese War in 1904, ending in a Japanese victory which contributed to the weakening of the monarchy in Russia. Japan would later intervene in the Russian Civil War from 1918 until 1922, sending troops to the Russian Far East and Siberia. That was followed by border conflicts between the new Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan throughout the 1930s. The two countries signed a nonaggression pact in 1941, although the Soviet government declared war on Japan anyway in August 1945, invading the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo as well as seizing the Kuril chain of islands just north of Japan. The two countries ended their formal state of war with the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, but as of December 2020 have not resolved this territorial dispute over ownership of the Kurils.

Yuri (island)

Yuri (Iurii) is an uninhabited island in the Habomai Islands sub-group of the Kuril Islands chain in the south of the Sea of Okhotsk, northwest Pacific Ocean. Its name is derived from the Ainu language word for cormorant.


Rasshua, is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Ushishir and 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwest of Matua. Its name is derived from the Ainu language for “fur coat”.

Lesser Kuril Chain

Lesser Kuril Chain is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean and part of the Kuril Islands. It includes Shikotan, Habomai Islands and several small islands lying close to the Shikotan.

Greater Kuril Chain

Greater Kuril Chain - A part of the Kuril Islands, the Greater Kuril Chain is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. It includes North Kurils, Iturup and Kunashir.


Anuchina is an uninhabited island in the Habomai Islands sub-group of the Kuril Islands chain in the south of the Sea of Okhotsk, northwest Pacific Ocean. Named after Dmitry Anuchin, Russian anthropologist, ethnographist and archaeologist. Island's Japanese name is derived from the Ainu language.

Japan is currently engaged in several territorial disputes with nearby countries, including Russia, South Korea, North Korea, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of China.

Japan–Russia border

The Japan–Russia border is the de facto maritime boundary that separates the territorial waters of the two countries. According to the Russia border agency, the border's length is 194.3 km (120.7 mi).

South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests

The South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests ecoregion is split between the southwest region of Sakhalin Island, and the southern three islands of the Kurile Islands chain in the Russian Far East. The ecoregion is in the Palearctic realm, with a Humid Continental climate. It covers 12,432 km2 (4,800 sq mi).


  1. 1 2 "Kuril islands dispute between Russia and Japan". BBC. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  2. "October 7, 1952 Incident (Habomai Islands) : Application by the United States to the International Court of Justice, May 26, 1955". Yale Law School. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  3. "Texts of Soviet–Japanese Statements; Peace Declaration Trade Protocol." The New York Times , page 2, October 20, 1956.
    Subtitle: "Moscow, October 19. (UP) – Following are the texts of a Soviet–Japanese peace declaration and of a trade protocol between the two countries, signed here today, in unofficial translation from the Russian". Quote:"...The U.S.S.R. and Japan have agreed to continue, after the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between them, negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty. Hereby, the U.S.S.R., in response to the desires of Japan and taking into consideration the interest of the Japanese state, agrees to hand over to Japan the Habomai and the Shikotan Islands, provided that the actual changing over to Japan of these islands will be carried out after the conclusion of a peace treaty..."
  4. 北方領土の姿 北方対策本部 - 内閣府 (in Japanese)