The Kuril Islands dispute between Russia and Japan is very old. It comes from 1855, when both nations sign the Treaty of Shimoda, in order to establish the borders between both nations. Despite the many treaties signed from then (1875, Treaty of Saint Petersburg; 1905, Treaty of Portsmouth; 1945, Yalta agreement; 1945, Potsdam Declaration; and 1951, Treaty of San Francisco), this dispute currently exists.

Although Japan occupied parts of Russia's Far East during the Russian Civil War following the October Revolution, Japan did not formally annex any of these territories and they were vacated by Japan by the mid-1920s.

There was practically no hostile activity between the USSR and the Empire of Japan after the Battle of Khalkin Gol ended the Japanese-Soviet Border Wars in 1939 and before the USSR declared war on Japan (Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation) on August 8, 1945. The Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact was signed in Moscow on April 13, 1941 but was unilaterally renounced by the Soviet Union in 1945. On August 14, 1945 Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration and on the following day announced unconditional capitulation. The Soviet operation to occupy the Kuril Islands took place between August 18 and September 3. Japanese inhabitants were repatriated two years later.

The expedition, which is organized with participation of a department for memorials to fatherland defenders, the Russian Search Movement, the Russian Geographical Society and the Culture Ministry, will search for remains of soldiers, care for burial places and gather WWII-time military equipment that will be restored and handed over to museums, the general said.

The main part of the 80,000-strong Japanese army in the Kuriles was based on Shumshu. An infantry division, a tank regiment, an air defense regiment and two airbases were located underground. The garrison had 60 tanks, 27 artillery and 310 machine gun emplacements and about 200 other gun points.

Wartime military hardware found on the island at the time has been shipped to the Russian mainland and is being restored.

Here I leave some pictures of the research Russian expedition developed during the summer 2015, who searched for the remains of Soviet and Japanese soldiers who died during the Invasion of the Kuril Islands in August 1945 - in the last great battle of the Second World War. The remains of 13 Soviet and 13 Japanese soldiers were found. The finds of the expedition, as well as unique examples of Japanese military equipment, is still preserved on the island Shumshu.

One of the Japanese gun emplacements [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Wreck of heavy coastal gun [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Height 171, where happened the heaviest fighting [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Wreck of Japanese light tank. On it, the expedition members counted more than 20 holes from PTR bullets. In the background - height 171 [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

The landscape view from height 171 [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Wreck of Japanese light tank [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Remains of Soviet soldiers - height 171 [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Remains of a Soviet paratrooper [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Searches are conducted with the help of deep metal detectors [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Another dead soldier [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Handgranades and munitions [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Remains of Japanese soldiers at height 171 [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Helmet remains [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

Monument to the Heroes of the Kuril landing on the island Shumshu [Credit photo: Peter Kamenchenko - Via]

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