The USA has been backing Tokyo's claims for 50 years already
The territorial dispute between Russia and Japan still makes headlines in Russia. A scandal has recently occurred in the State Duma, when souvenir shops in the parliament started selling Earth globes, on which the Kuril Islands were marked as the Japanese territory.
The problem of the Kuril Islands has surfaced again in Washington, although it might seem at first sight that the USA has nothing in common with the island dispute. However, as experience shows, the USA finds itself involved in almost every single event, which happens in the world. This is what they think at the US administration, at least.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Japanese Minister for Ecology Yuriko Koike on Tuesday that Washington was ready to assist Japan in returning four of the Russia-owned Kuril Islands. The Pentagon chief assured the Japanese minister (Koike is in charge of the territorial dispute with Russia) that he understood Japan's position on the matter very well. Rumsfeld promised that the USA would help Japan discuss the Kuril Islands issue during US-Russian talks, as soon as an adequate possibility would appear, RIA Novosti reports.
One shouldn't reproach the current US administration for its excessive attention to the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan, though. It is an open secret that the USA has been backing Tokyo's claims for 50 years already. The US Congress passed a special resolution on the matter in 1952. The resolution, however, was approved on account of the Cold War with the USSR, rather than of the USA's initiative to support Japan in its foreign political activities. Furthermore, Directive 677 of 29 January 1946 said that the command of the US occupation troops excluded all Kuril Islands, including the four islands of the current dispute, from the jurisdiction of the Japanese government. It is noteworthy that the above-mentioned four islands were a part of the Hokkaido Island prefecture before and during WWII – they had nothing in common with the Kuril Islands.
The incumbent administration is not likely to repeat the accomplishment of the US Department of State and the US Ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pikering, which they achieved in 1998. It was announced at that time after the talks between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto that the US government recognized Japan's sovereignty over four northern islands.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that Washington does not support Japan in other territorial disputes: Tokyo's claims to China and Taiwan for Senkaku islands, the dispute with Korea regarding the Tokto Islands, for example. That is why USA's selective preferences can't help raising suspicion.