Treaty of 1875 between Russia and Japan on territories exchange

7 May 1875

On April 25 (May 7), 1875 in St. Petersburg Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov from the Russian side and Enomoto Takeaki from the Japanese side signed the treaty on the exchange of territories (Treaty of St. Petersburg).

According to the treaty the Russian Empire obtained the undisputed sovereignty of Sakhalin island in exchange for 18 Kuril islands (Shumshu, Alaid, Paramushir, Makanrushi, Onekotan, Kharimkotan, Ekarma, Shiashkotan, Mussir, Raikoke, Matua, Rastua, little islands Sredneva, Ushisir, Ketoy, Simusir, Broton, Cherpoy and Brat Chirpoyev, Urup).

The treaty changed the provisions of Treaty of Shimoda 1855 under which Sakhalin had been in joint ownership of two countries.

The inhabitants of the exchanged territories were allowed to return to their fatherland or stay. They were guaranteed the freedom of religion, property and the right for trading under the condition that they took out citizenship of the country which had taken the territory. Russia authorized Japanese ships to use Korsakov port in Southern Sakhalin where the Japanese consulate was established during 10 years without paying any custom duties. Japanese ships, merchants and fishing industrials were provided with favorable conditions in the ports and waters of Okhotsk Sea and Kamchatka.

On August 10 (22), 1875 in Tokio was adopted an additional article to the Treaty which regulated the rights of those inhabitants who stayed in ceded territories.

The Russian-Japanese treaty of 1875 produced various responses in both countries. There were many Japanese who denounced it believing that the Japanese government exchanged the important from political and economical point of view Sakhalin for a ‘small ridge of stones’ as they thought of Kuril. Others declared that Japan simply exchanged ‘one part of its territory for another’. The same assessments sounded from the Russian side too: many believed that both territories belonged to Russia by right of discoverer. The St. Petersburg Treaty of 1875 was not the final act of territorial demarcation between Russia and Japan and did not prevent both countries from further conflicts.

St. Petersburg Treaty had remained in force up to 1905 when the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed as a result of Russo-Japanese war. Under the treaty Russia ceded to victorious Japan all the Kuril Islands and the Southern Sakhalin.

Lit.: Елизарьев В. Н. История Сахалина и Курильских островов в российско-японских отношениях Южно-Сахалинск, 2002; Иконникова Т. Я. Очерки истории взаимоотношений России и Японии в конце XIX в. — 1917 г. Хабаровск, 2001; Кузнецов А. П. Вклад И. А. Гошкевича в становление русско-японских отношений в XIX в. СПб., 2007; Русские Курилы: история и современность: Сб. док. по истории формирования рус.-яп. и совет.-яп. границы / В. К. Зиланов, А. А. Кошкин, И. А. Латышев [и др.]. М., 1995; Русско-японские договоры и соглашения // Большая советская энциклопедия. Т. 22. М., 1975; Сенченко И. А. История Сахалина и Курильских островов: к проблеме русско-японских отношений в XVII-XX вв. М., 2005; Сысоева Е. А. Сахалин и Курильские острова в русско-японских отношениях 1855-1875 гг.: От Симодского трактата до Петербургского договора. Дис. ... канд. ист. наук. Владимир, 2004; Строева М. В. Петербургский договор 1875 г. и его роль в истории русско-японских отношений XIX в. Автореферат дис. ... канд. ист. наук. СПб., 2010; Шишов А. В. Россия и Япония: История военных конфликтов. М., 2000.

From the Presidential library materials:

Еллинский Б. Сахалин: чёрная жемчужина Дальнего Востока. М., 1928;

The end of Yalta conference of the heads of governments of the USSR, USA and Great Britain // On this day. 11 February;

История Российского государства: территории и границы. СПб., 2010 Эпизод 11: Россия во второй половине XIX — начале XX в.;

The USSR and Japan signed the Basic Convention // On this day. 20 January.