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date: 03 December 2022



  • Naoki AmanoNaoki AmanoFaculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Yamagata University, JAPAN


The modern history of Sakhalin Island, a border island between Russia and Japan, has been one of demarcation, colonization, re-demarcation, and refugee resettlement, with a total of four demarcations and re-demarcations since the late 19th century, the first through diplomatic negotiations and the remaining three through war. One of the most significant features of the modern history of the border island is that each time the sovereignty of the islands changed, the population was completely replaced.

Four major events shaped the history of Sakhalin Island: the Treaty of St Petersburg of 1875, which de-bordered the island from the traditional international system of East Asia and incorporated it into the modern international system of the West; the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, which resulted in the Japanese acquisition of the southern half of the island; the end of the five-year military occupation of northern Sakhalin by the Japanese in 1925; and the Soviet occupation of southern Sakhalin in 1945. Through each of these occasions, a holistic picture of the modern history of the Russo-Japanese border island can be discerned by focusing on the mobility of its inhabitants, how the inhabitants became displaced and were forced to leave their homes, and how the island was settled by the new sovereigns who replaced them.


  • Borderlands
  • Central Asia
  • Japan

Sakhalin/Karafuto: A Border Island between Empires

Approximately 27 miles from Cape Soya, the northernmost point of the Japanese archipelago, there is a long and narrow north–south island. It is Sakhalin Island. Straddling the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk, the narrowest part of the island is about 18 miles from east to west, and the widest part is less than 100 miles. It is 589 miles from north to south and is situated between 45° and 54° north latitude. With an area of 46,239.33 square miles, Sakhalin Island is the twenty-third-largest island in the world, after Ireland and neighboring Hokkaido.

Sakhalin Island, together with the Kuril Islands, now constitutes the Sakhalin Oblast of the Russian Federation. As of January 2021, there are 464,190 inhabitants on the island, which represents more than 95% of the oblast’s population.1 Thanks to its key industries, oil and natural gas, the Sakhalin Oblast ranks fourth among all federal subjects in terms of gross regional product per capita. The average salary of a citizen of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is 99,000 rubles, which is second only to the city of Salekhard (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug) in the ranking of income levels by city, and higher than that of Moscow, which is third.2

Walking through the center of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, one will come across unique buildings that look out of place in Russia. One such building is the Sakhalin Regional Museum, a place for citizens to relax, a place for wedding couples to take photos, and a major tourist attraction. The building was constructed in 1937 and was then called the Karafuto-chō (Karafuto Office) Museum. From 1905 to 1945, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, south of 50° north latitude, was Japanese territory and called Karafuto, the capital of which is now Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, or Toyohara as it was then named.

Figure 1: The Sakhalin Regional Museum Constructed as the Former Karafuto-chō Museum

(Photo by Author, September 2019, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk).

Since the late 19th century, Sakhalin Island has been re-bordered several times by the empires: Japan, Russia, and the USSR. Each time the boundaries have changed, the local population has been forced to leave the island or be ruled by a new foreign power. The historical experiences of such boundary changes are engraved in the construction of a unique cityscape, in the identity of the present inhabitants, and in the memories of the former islanders. In this article, the modern history of this border island between empires is outlined, focusing on boundary changes and the displacement of its inhabitants.

Figure 2: Map of Sakhalin/Karafuto.

Courtesy of Taisho Nakayama

From the Traditional Chinese Tribute System to the Modern International System between Russia and Japan Until 1875

It is only since 1870 or so that national boundaries have been drawn around Sakhalin Island. The island is located at the junction of Eurasia and the Japanese archipelago. Before it became a border island between Japan and Russia, Sakhalin Island functioned as a bridge between Japan and China. The indigenous people of the island, such as Ainu and Nivkh, were actively engaged in inter-regional trade. As early as the 7th century, it is recorded that a tribute envoy from Sakhalin Island visited Tang dynasty capital Chang’an.3

In the late 17th century, the Ainu, Ulcha, and other peoples began to develop trading activities across Ezo Island (present-day Hokkaido), Sakhalin Island, and the lower reaches of the Amur River. The Ainu exported pelts of marten, otter, and foxes captured on Sakhalin Island, as well as Japanese iron pots and small knives, to China via the Ulcha. The Ulcha exchanged these products for Chinese silk fabrics, and the Ainu brought the silk to Japan. The fact that Chinese mandarins often actively intervened to resolve disputes during the trade shows that Qing China’s effective rule extended to Sakhalin Island.4

This inter-regional trade continued until 1867 when Japan and Russia signed the Tentative Regulations Relative to the Island of Sakhalin under which Sakhalin Island became a Russo-Japanese joint possession. From this time onward, Sakhalin Island was integrated into the system of modern international relations from the Chinese traditional tribute system.

After eight years of joint Russian–Japanese possession, Sakhalin Island became part of the Russian Empire under the Treaty of St Petersburg signed in 1875. The treaty stipulated that the indigenous people had three years to decide whether they wanted to belong to Japan or to Russia, and if they chose to belong to Japan, they had to leave Sakhalin Island and settle in Japan.

In 1873, there were 2,372 Ainu living in the south of Sakhalin Island. Of these, about 35%, or 841 people, chose to immigrate to Japan. They had worked for many years alongside Japanese fishermen in the fishing grounds of Sakhalin Island and were therefore accustomed to living with the Japanese. The Sakhalin Ainu were ordered to settle in Tsuishikari, near Sapporo in Hokkaido. The Sakhalin Ainu were forbidden to form their own settlements and engage in fishing and were forced to engage in agriculture. After Japan took possession of southern Sakhalin Island in 1905, the Tsuishikari Ainu were allowed to return to Sakhalin Island. However, less than half of the initial 336 were able to return, and only 12 remained at Tsuishikari.5

Figure 3: Memorial Tomb for the Sakhalin Ainu Who Died in the Epidemic in Tsuishikari

(Photo by Author, September 2020, Ebetsu City, Hokkaido).

From a Russian Penal Colony to Russo-Japanese Sakhalin/Karafuto: 1875–1905

Japan and Russia first opened diplomatic relations in 1855 with the Treaty of Shimoda, which postponed the demarcation of the Sakhalin Island. The Russian Empire began to exile prisoners to Sakhalin Island as early as 1858. The empire applied its traditional colonial policy of exile settlements in Siberia to the border island. Following the Tentative Regulations of 1867, the Russian Empire officially declared Sakhalin Island a penal colony and sent eight hundred prisoners there in 1869. In contrast, at that time, the Japanese involvement with the island was exclusively in the fishing industry, with most visitors only working during the fishing season and few settling on the island. According to the 1873 survey, 1,162 Russians were settled on Sakhalin island, while the total number of Japanese, both settled and sojourners, was only 660. The Treaty of St. Petersburg of 1875, under which Sakhalin Island became Russian territory, reflected the fact that the island was becoming a Russian settlement.6

The transfer of convicts to Sakhalin Island gained momentum in the 1880s, as the Russian Volunteer Fleet, or Dobroflot, which operated as merchant ships in times of peace and warships in times of war, began to transport convicts. By 1903, Dobroflot transported some twenty thousand convicts to Sakhalin Island.7 The center of the Russian penal system on the eastern frontier changed from Siberia to Sakhalin Island.

The Russian lands east of the Urals, that is, Siberia, the Russian Far East, and Sakhalin Island, are often recalled and referred to in connection with words such as exile, gulag archipelago, and internment. The eastern frontiers have been regarded as non-Russian in the eyes of the European part of Russia, the center of the country. Therefore, from the time of the Russian Empire until the Stalin era, these areas were treated as places of deportation.

However, there is a big difference between the Gulag Archipelago and the penal colonies. The Gulag Archipelago was the basis of the Soviet economy in the Stalin era. Prisoners were forced to work as “unpaid” laborers in the construction of roads, ports, canals, railways, and other infrastructure, as well as in the mining of precious metals to pay for the purchase of modern foreign machinery and equipment. The prisoners were used for the development of Siberia and the Far East, where the environment was harsh and the infrastructure inadequate, but the resources were enormous.8

In contrast, the overriding aim of exile colonization in the Russian Empire was to settle thinly populated frontiers. Since the presence of Russians in a barrenly populated area was an end in itself, no emphasis was placed on them producing anything. Forced labor was imposed on the exiles, but whether they made a profit or not was secondary, and no attempt was made to increase their productivity. On Sakhalin Island, the development of coal was undertaken by the convicts immediately after the start of their exile. The coal industry on Sakhalin Island remained in the red until the collapse of the Russian Empire.9

Table 1: Population of Sakhalin Island under Russian Empire, 1882–1902 (excluding indigenous people).




Hard labor convicts




Convict settlers








Convicts’ family




Officials and their family




Other settlers








Source: Ishchenko, Russkie starozhily Sakhalina, 38.

So how did the settlement of Sakhalin, the purpose of the penal colonization, proceed? Table 1 provides a graphical representation of the number of exiles on Sakhalin Island. Hard-labor convicts refers to those who were held in prison and engaged in forced labor, such as coal mining and road building. They were generally sentenced to eight to twelve years’ imprisonment, but in practice, they were often released two or three years before their sentences expired. This was to ensure that the prisoners were physically and mentally fit to endure the colonization work after their sentence had expired.

Upon completion of their hard-labor sentence, the convicts are incorporated into convict settlers. They were settled on land selected by the administration and engaged in agriculture mainly in the central inland region of Tymovsk. Although they did not have freedom of movement, life in the settlements was no different from that of ordinary farmers. They were encouraged to build their own homes, get married and start families, but they had to make their own living.

As a rule, after ten years, or six years if there was an amnesty, the convict settlers became peasants-formerly-exiles. They were allowed freedom of movement and could leave the island and settle on the continent, except that they were forbidden to return to their homeland and to move to St. Petersburg or Moscow.10 Anton Chekhov, who visited Sakhalin Island in 1890, described the exile as a hellish place of toil in his book A Journey to Sakhalin (1895).11 But by the time Chekhov’s book was published in 1895, Sakhalin Island had been transformed into a land of peasants. Many of them had the right to leave the island, but they chose to stay and make their homes there with their families. Sakhalin-born and Sakhalin-raised young people began to form their own identity as Sakhalintsy (Sakhalinians). However, the life of the Sakhalin peasants and Sakhalintsy was not to last.12 The Russo-Japanese war re-bordered their home island.

The Russo-Japanese War began in February 1904. The main battlefields were the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria. The only battlefield in the belligerents’ territories was Sakhalin Island. Japanese troops landed in the village of Merei (present-day Prigorodnoe Village) on Sakhalin Island in the final stages of the war on July 7, 1905. Most of the soldiers of the Russian Army on Sakhalin Island served as prison guards in peacetime. Convict settlers and peasants-formerly-exiles were also called up as volunteer soldiers. In other words, the Russian army on Sakhalin Island consisted of former guards and prisoners of the penal colony.

The Japanese forces succeed in capturing Sakhalin Island by the end of July without encountering much resistance. According to official records, the Russian death toll was 88, but this does not include the deaths of ex-prisoner volunteers. It is also known that the Japanese massacred Russian prisoners of war (POWs) and Sakhalin civilians, but their deaths are also not recorded in the official military history.

Figure 4: Monument to the Landing of the Japanese Army on Sakhalin Island

(Photo by Author, October 2014, Prigorodnoe Village).

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, the population of Sakhalin Island numbered about forty thousand. Of these, nearly fifteen thousand people, including about eight thousand POWs, were deported from the island. Under the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, Sakhalin Island was divided into Russian territory to the north and Japanese territory to the south along the 50th parallel. As of December 1905, the population of North Sakhalin was 5,487, while the number of Russians who remained in South Sakhalin as it became the Japanese territory of Karafuto was 425. The whereabouts of other some twenty thousand Sakhalintsy are still unknown.13

From Russian North Sakhalin to Japanese Kita Karafuto, 1920–1925

A major feature of Siberian and Far Eastern society after the Russo-Japanese War was the rapid increase in emigration from Europe, promoted by Prime Minister Petr Stolypin: in the ten years between 1906 and 1916, 3,079,000 people crossed the Urals to the eastern frontier. In the Russian territory of Sakhalin, which had been reduced to north of 50° north latitude, the system of exile was abolished in 1906, and free emigration to the border islands was also actively encouraged.14

The population of Russian Sakhalin, which had been reduced to about 5,500 (excluding the indigenous population) during the Russo-Japanese War, had only recovered to 10,506 by 1914, including 2,279 indigenous people. Of these, only just over half, about 5,300, were Russians. The total population included 613 Chinese and Koreans who were engaged in commerce or worked in the coal mines.15

On February 26, 1914, Tsar Nicholas II decided on the reorganization of Sakhalin Oblast, which included the city of Nikolaevsk and the Udskii District on the lower Amur River. Sakhalin Oblast became a region straddling the Tatar Strait.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the civil war spread to the city of Nikolaevsk, which the Japanese occupied in 1918. In March 1920, the Japanese attacked the Red Army partisans who had entered the city, but were repulsed. In May, when Japanese reinforcements approached Nikolaevsk, the partisans unleashed a mad terror, killing at least 3,000 local people and about 130 Japanese POWs, burning the city to the ground, and fleeing.16

In response to this incident, known as the Nikolaevsk Incident, the Japanese government declared that it would occupy North Sakhalin as a guarantee until a legitimate government was established in Russia and the incident was resolved. The fact that both Nikolaevsk and North Sakhalin belonged to the Sakhalin Oblast justified this occupation. The Japanese Army’s military occupation of North Sakhalin began in August 1920 and lasted until May 1925.

This military occupation was only temporary until the establishment of a legitimate government in Russia; in fact, once the Soviet regime had won the civil war and taken power, Japan had no choice but to lift the occupation. The Treaty of Beijing, or Soviet-Japanese Basic Convention, signed in February 1925, restored diplomatic relations between Japan and the Soviet Union, and the treaty provided for the end of the occupation of northern Sakhalin. However, many ordinary Japanese thought that the border at 50° north latitude had been breached, that Karafuto had been extended northward, and that the whole island of Sakhalin had become Japanese territory, and many Japanese settled in “their new territory,” called Kita Karafuto (meaning Japanese North Sakhalin).17

Table 2: Population of North Sakhalin before and after Japanese Occupation, 1919–1926.

















































Source: M. S. Vysokov, “Itogi veka, Sakhalin n Kuril'skie ostrova, khroniki XX stoletiia: 1919,” Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk, 07. 05. 1999;

Takeno, “Hoshōsenryō-ka Kita Karafuto niokeru nihonjin no katsudō (1920–1925),” 35;

Gridiaeva et al., eds., V.Ia. Aboltin, Ostrov sokrovishch, 89.

Table 3: Japanese and Russians in Aleksandrovsk City under Japanese Occupation, 1919–1925.
























Source: Takeno, “Hoshōsenryō-ka Kita Karafuto niokeru nihonjin no katsudō (1920–1925),” 35.

Table 2 shows the demographic situation on North Sakhalin during the Japanese military occupation: from just 38 Japanese in 1919 to 4,790 in 1922, two years after the start of the occupation. After July 1922, when Japanese troops withdrew from their intervention in the civil war on the continent, some Japanese began to feel insecure about Japan’s position in North Sakhalin and began to repatriate, resulting in a gradual decline in the population. At the beginning of 1925, when rumors of the lifting of the occupation intensified, the population fell below two thousand. Even after the end of the occupation in 1926, most of the Japanese who remained in North Sakhalin were involved in coal mining and oil exploration.18

As can be seen from Table 3, in the city of Aleksandrovsk, the political and economic center of North Sakhalin, the Japanese population greatly outnumbered the Russians, and the city became a booming Japanese town. Since the days of the penal settlements, the Russian population of North Sakhalin has been larger in the central inland region of Tymovsk than in Aleksandrovsk, which faces the Tatar Strait, since the Tymovsk region was settled by exiled convicts and exiled peasants.

The Russians living in Aleksandrovsk were mainly people working in the executive branch or engaged in commerce. After the start of the military occupation, the Japanese army was headquartered in the city and many of the Russian residents made their living by working for the Japanese.19 Therefore, when the occupation ended and the Soviet regime was established in North Sakhalin, the Russian collaborators could be in danger. In fact, it is a fact that in the 1930s, during the Stalin era, some inhabitants were purged for their collaboration with Japan.20 With the lifting of the occupation, between three and four hundred Russian collaborators were evacuated to the Japanese mainland, and fewer than fifty moved across the reestablished 50° north latitude border to South Sakhalin, Japanese Karafuto.21

From Japanese Karafuto to Soviet Sakhalin, 1905–1945

In March 1907, the Japanese Government established the Karafuto-chō (Karafuto Office) at Toyohara (present-day Iuzhino-Sakhalinsk City) as the governing authority for Sakhalin Island south of 50° north latitude. The governor of the Karafuto-chō had a wide range of powers, including authority over police, construction projects, tax collection, and education. The authority of the Karafuto governor was greater than that of an ordinary prefectural governor and less than that of the governors-general of Korea and Taiwan, which were colonies of the Japanese Empire. Karafuto, like Taiwan and Korea, belonged to a different legal zone within the empire, to which the laws of mainland Japan did not directly apply. However, the governor-general of Korea and the governor-general of Taiwan had the authority to issue their own laws and regulations, while the Karafuto-chō issued orders in the form of its ordinances that were identical to the laws of the mainland.22 In this sense, Karafuto can be regarded as a quasi-internal colony of Imperial Japan.23

The reason why the Karafuto-chō was able to quickly establish a quasi-internal type of administration on the former Russian lands was that the Russian population was almost completely wiped out from the southern part of Sakhalin Island during the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Immediately after the end of the war, Japanese fishermen arrived en masse on the island, which had become virtually empty, or de facto Terra nullis. The main industry during the first ten years of Japanese South Sakhalin rule was fishing, most notably herring fishing, and the biggest source of income for the Karafuto office was the license fee for fishing operations. From the start of the occupation until 1915, fishing accounted for more than 50% of Karafuto’s gross regional product, and fishing fees accounted for about 30% of the office’s revenue.24

However, the Karafuto-chō was not satisfied with being a fishing ground. This was because many of the fishermen were seasonal workers who came to work only during the summer fishing season and did not intend to become permanent residents. The aim of the office’s administration was to turn Sakhalin Island south of 50° north latitude from a quasi-internal colony into a space on par with the other mainland prefectures of Japan. It was therefore imperative for Karafuto-chō to attract industries that would enable the island to attract permanent residents.25

The Karafuto-chō described its settlement promotion strategy as “Letting capital bring settlers.”26 The office transferred the island’s abundant natural resources to large companies at low prices in order to attract workers to mine the resources, while the companies also built factories to process the raw materials in order to attract factory workers for settlement. The natural resources utilized to let capital bring settlers were forests and coal.

Forest development in Karafuto began in the late 1910s. The Karafuto-chō sold off large areas of forest to large companies at low prices on the condition that they would build factories to produce pulp and paper from the wood. The price of forest land sold off in such a way was one-third that of neighboring Hokkaido. The Karafuto-chō divided the forests in the southeast, southwest, middle-east, northeast, and northwest parts of the island into separate areas, and the five companies that purchased the divided forests built a total of eight pulp and paper factories on the island by the late 1920s. Until the mid-1910s, the population of Sakhalin was concentrated in the administrative center of Toyohara and the fishing center on the southern coast, but the development of forestry and the operation of pulp and paper mills led to the settlement of settlers all the territory up to the north. Forestry and pulp and paper production remained the main industries of the island until the end of Japanese rule on Sakhalin.27

Figure 5: A Former Japanese Pulp and Paper Mill

(Photo by Author, March 2017, Kholmsk City).

The period of settlement and rapid population growth in the whole region of Sakhalin coincided with the period when the Japanese intervened in the Russian Civil War, attempted to expand their sphere of influence in the Russian Far East and North Sakhalin, and eventually withdrew and shrank their sphere of influence. With this shift in the sphere of influence of Imperial Japan, some of the Korean workers were also forced to move.

During the Japanese intervention in the Russian Civil War, a number of Japanese forestry companies moved into the Russian Far East and employed many workers from Korea; when the Japanese troops withdrew from the Russian Far East in 1922, the Korean workers moved across the Tatar Strait to Japanese-occupied North Sakhalin, where they worked in coal mines. When the Japanese army withdrew from North Sakhalin in 1925, many Koreans moved across the 50th parallel to the north to the Japanese territory of Sakhalin. The colonial workers settled in Shiritoru (present-day Makarov City) in the central-eastern part of Karafuto and Esutoru (present-day Uglegorsk City) in the northwestern part, where pulp and paper mills had been set up.28

While the pulp and paper industry flourished, the fishing industry declined from the late 1910s onward, largely due to overfishing. Industrial polluted water discharged into the sea from the pulp and paper mills also caused serious damage to fishery resources. The fishermen complained to the Sakhalin Agency, but the agency, which prioritized the factories as important for its policy of promoting settlement, did not listen to the complaints of fishermen suffering from water pollution.29

Table 4: Share of Production by Industry in Karafuto, 1910–1938.

Note 1: Pulp and Paper account for more than 90% of manufacturing.

Note 2: T&C means government receipts from transportation and communication.

Source: Toshiyuki Mizoguchi and Mataji Umehara, eds., Kyū-Nihon shokuminch keizai tōkei (Tokyo: Toyō keizai shinpōsha, 1988), 308.

Forest resources were also overexploited, and the Karafuto administration feared that the forests would be depleted. In the 1930s, the Karafuto-chō began to develop a new settlement promotion industry to replace the forestry and pulp and paper industries. This was the coal industry. As Table 4 shows, the coal industry developed rapidly from the mid-1930s. The development of the coal industry led to an explosive increase in the population of the northwestern region near the 50° north latitude border.

A typical coal mining town that developed rapidly was Esutoru. The population of Esutoru was only just over six hundred in 1920. This began to increase rapidly in the late 1920s with the arrival of paper and pulp mills, and the development of the coal industry in the late 1930s spurred the growth. The population of Esutoru increased sixty-five-fold in the twenty years between 1920 and 1940, overtaking the population of the capital, Toyohara, to become the largest city in Karafuto.

Table 5: Population of the Major Cities of Karafuto, 1920–1941.










































Karafuto Total






Source: Karafuto-chō, Karfuto-chō kokusei chōsa kekka houkoku Shōwa 10-nen (Toyohara: Karafuto-chō, 1937), statistics chapter, 4–9; Karafuto-chō, Karafuto-chō tokeisho Shōwa 16-nen (Toyohara: Karafuto-cho, 1943), 23.

Coal-mining labor was also drawn from the Korean Peninsula; from July 1939 onwards, Imperial Japan began to mobilize Korean workers. From July 1939 onward, Imperial Japan began to mobilize Korean workers. The exact number of people mobilized is not known, but the Sakhalin Agency planned to mobilize about 6,400 in 1939 and 13,000 in 1940, and it is estimated that 60% of the mobilized Koreans were forced to work in the coal mines.30

In the early 1940s, Imperial Japan modified its geopolitical structure: in 1940, the Japanese government declared the creation of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, aiming to expand the sphere of influence of the empire and to establish an autarky within the empire. In 1942, the Ministry of Colonies was abolished, and a new Ministry of Greater East Asia was established, which was responsible for the affairs of China and Southeast Asia. With this reorganization, Taiwan, Korea, and Sakhalin, which had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Ministry, were transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Korea and Taiwan remained under a different jurisdiction from the suzerainty, but Karafuto was removed from the different legal field and incorporated into the same jurisdiction as the other mainland prefectures. The Karafuto-chō at last achieved its goal of becoming an interior prefecture instead of a quasi-internal colony.31

An imperial colony was a kind of status. The empire protected and maintained colonies for their strategic importance, economic benefits, or political prestige. But to become a normal interior province meant losing this imperial protection. The coal industry in Sakhalin was directly affected by this deprivation of protection. Karafuto coal was to compete with coal from North China in the outer reaches of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The empire preferred northern Chinese coal to Karafuto coal. The main reason was that the coal of North China was indispensable as metallurgical coking coal, the raw material for the steelmaking necessary for the conduct of the war. As a metallurgical coke coal, the coal of North China was superior to that of Karafuto. The number of ships transporting coal from Karafuto fell sharply in the 1940s. Imperial Japan, with its policy of southward expansion, could no longer afford to allocate transport ships to a less attractive resource base at the northern end of the territory. As a result, more and more piles of unshipped coal accumulated in Karafuto ports. The political and legal incorporation of Karafuto into the mainland made it economically isolated from the core of the country.32

In August 1944, the Japanese government moved the Karafuto coal miners to the main coal mines on the mainland. This measure, known as “rapid conversion,” resulted in the transfer of more than nine thousand Japanese and Korean workers, mainly from the Esutoru area, to the main coal mines on the mainland.33 This led to family separation such as the case of a Japanese woman who was in her mother’s womb at the time when her father was transferred to a coal mine in Kyushu region due to the rapid conversion. Before her first birthday, Japan was defeated, and a new de facto border was drawn between Sakhalin Island and the Japanese mainland. Her father was unable to cross the border to his “foreign” homeland. After the war, her mother remarried a Korean, and she was registered as a “Korean” living in the Soviet Union. She grew up to marry a Korean also living in Sakhalin. Yet with the help of many people, she was eventually able to prove her “Japanese” identity and “returned” to Japan permanently in 2000.34

On August 8, 1945, the Soviet Union, violating the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Treaty, declared war on Japan. The following day, Soviet troops on Sakhalin Island crossed the 50th parallel border and began an invasion of the Japanese Karafuto territory. On August 10, the Karafuto-chō decided to urgently evacuate children, women, and older adults to Hokkaido. It planned to evacuate 160,000 of the approximately 380,000 inhabitants of Sakhalin. However, less than half of these people, 76,618, were successfully evacuated. On August 22, three ships carrying the evacuees were attacked by Soviet submarines, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,700 people.35 The evacuation ended on August 25 when the Soviet Union blockaded the La Pérouse Strait between Hokkaido and Sakhalin Island, that is, successfully occupying the whole of Japanese Karafuto.36

Figure 6: Monument to the Breakthrough of the 50°N Border Line of the Soviet Army on 11 August 1945

(Photo by Author, September 2019, Iuzhnaia Khandasa Village).

From August 1945 to 1949, 95% of the Karafuto citizens were forced to leave their native island. There were three routes of repatriation off the island. The first route was the emergency evacuation in August 1945. The second route was “smuggling,” an attempt to reach Hokkaido by crossing the Soya Strait, which had been blocked by the Soviet Union and had de facto become the “border” between Japan and the Soviet Union. Before the defeat in the war, the crossing of the straits had been a domestic journey, but now it was effectively a foreign journey, and the Karafuto islanders referred to this clandestine escape from the island under the watchful eye of the Soviet authorities as “smuggling.” By 1946, when the official repatriation began, some twenty-four thousand people had succeeded in smuggling off the island.37

The third route was the official repatriation, which was carried out in accordance with an agreement signed between the United States and the USSR on November 27, 1946. The first repatriation ship left Maoka on the west coast on December 5, 1946. All the repatriates landed in Hakodate port in southern Hokkaido. By the time the official repatriation ended in July 1949, 263,875 islanders had left Karafuto.38 For various reasons, 1,482 Japanese chose to remain on the island and live in Soviet Sakhalin. About 60% of them, 881, were women. Many Japanese women who remained on Sakhalin after the war often formed households with Korean men who could not be repatriated.39

Of the indigenous people living in Japanese Karafuto, almost all of the 1,254 Ainu were forced to leave the island again. As the Imperial Japanese government had granted Japanese citizenship to the Karafuto Ainu, they were put on official repatriation ships as Japanese. On the other hand, the empire of Japan had not given citizenship to Uilta and Nivkh. About 90% of them remained on the Soviet-administered island of Sakhalin, and only forty-seven decided to immigrate to Japan.40

Upon Japan’s defeat in the war, about twenty-five thousand Koreans ceased to be subjects of Imperial Japan.41 Most of them were from the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, where the Republic of Korea was established after the Second World War. In the 1950s, some fifteen thousand Sakhalin Koreans were “returned” to the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, which had been recognized by the Soviet government. In 1990, diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea opened, and the return of Sakhalin Koreans to Korea began in 1992. In 1990, the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea opened diplomatic relations, and the return of Sakhalin Koreans to Korea began in 1992. By 2015, 3,354 Koreans had returned to the Republic of Korea.42

According to the 2010 Russian census, 22,828 Korean and 167 Japanese live in Sakhalin Oblast, while no Sakhalin people claim themselves to be Ainu. Koreans are the second-largest ethnic group next to Russians in Sakhalin Oblast, where more than one hundred ethnic groups resided.43

Concluding Remarks

On January 2, 1947, the Sakhalin Oblast of the Soviet Union was founded, comprising Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands. Already the previous year, 1946, a campaign of immigration from the mainland to the islands had begun. Many of the migrants came from the western regions of Russia, which had been overrun by German troops during the war and whose towns had been devastated. By 1951, the population of Sakhalin Oblast had already surpassed half a million, and it would seem that the outflow of the repatriated Japanese population had been compensated for. However, many of the newcomers did not become permanent residents.44

In order to promote migration, the Soviet government attached the highest level of privileges. Migrants were given land and housing, higher salaries, and tax benefits. A condition for the granting of such privileges was that they had to live in Sakhalin Oblast for at least three years. As a result, more than half of the migrants left the oblast after three years: in the ten years from 1952 to 1961, the number of people who migrated to Sakhalin Oblast was 509,900, and the number of people who moved out was about 590,900.45

The backbone of the postwar Sakhalin Oblast economy was the fishing industry. For resource-poor Japan, Sakhalin’s onshore resources, such as forests and coal, were valuable, however. However, they were not scarce for the resource-rich Russia, and the island region was dependent on marine resources where it could play to its strengths. During the Karafuto period, the Karafuto-chō ignored complaints from fishermen that polluted effluent from the pulp and paper mills was polluting the sea. In contrast, during the Soviet times, the Sakhalin Oblast authorities instructed foresters to transport timber by land vehicles, instead of floating it by river, on the grounds that the use of rivers to transport felled timber would adversely affect the spawning of salmon in the rivers. The change in territorial sovereignty changed the priorities of industry on this border island. Coal was consumed exclusively within Sakhalin Oblast, including as a power source for pulp and paper mills, which used the same mills from the Karafuto era, and was never transferred off the island. With regard to oil production, two-thirds of Sakhalin Island’s oil reserves are located on the continental shelf, but marine exploration only began in the 1960s, and during the Soviet era, oil extraction was carried out exclusively in onshore fields.46

Oil production from Sakhalin’s onshore oil fields declined significantly by the end of the 1980s. The output of the fishing, forestry, pulp and paper and coal industries all turned negative in 1990. This was due to a lack of skilled labor and a failure to modernize the industry. The Soviet Union collapsed just as the Sakhalin economy, as a whole, entered negative growth. The economic crisis in the Russian Federation following the collapse of the USSR was particularly acute in Sakhalin Oblast, where prices in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk were the highest of all Russian cities. The Sakhalin Oblast economy did not become one of the strongest in the Russian Federation until the beginning of the 21st century, when oil and natural gas production on the coastal continental shelf began in earnest.47

The Japanese government renounced its territorial rights over South Sakhalin in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty.48 However, as the Soviet government did not sign this treaty and no peace treaty has been concluded between Japan and Russia to date, the official attitude of the Japanese government is that it is “not in a position to state” to which country the former Karafuto territory belongs. On a political map prepared by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japanese territory is colored pink and the territory of the Russian Federation is colored grey, while the southern half of Sakhalin Island is not colored, meaning that its belonging is undecided.49

A Consulate General of Japan was opened in 2001 in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, which, according to the Japanese government’s view, is not known to which country it belongs but is at least not Japanese territory. Japanese tourists to the city obviously need a visa issued by the Russian Federation.

Discussion of the Literature

Anyone interested in the history of the Russian Far East, including Sakhalin Island, should first read the three books by the excellent American historian John J. Stephan, emeritus professor of University of Hawaii: Sakhalin: A History (1971), The Kuril Islands: Russo-Japanese Frontier in the Pacific (1974), and The Russian Far East: A History (1994).50

Sakhalin: A History, is the first, and at present the only, book on the total history of Sakhalin Island, written by a single author using both Japanese and Russian sources. Stephan’s narrative of the history of Sakhalin Island under Russian and Soviet rule relied on Soviet-era sources, which greatly distorted the facts, and his understanding of Sakhalin history now needs much revision. Nevertheless, it is a great book that should be read first, especially by those who can read neither Russian nor Japanese.

Today, it is Sakhalin and Japanese historians who are leading the way in the study of Sakhalin Island history. Since the end of the 1980s, Sakhalin historians have begun the “perestroika (reconstruction)” of the history of their homeland, particularly that under Russian imperial rule. It was Mikhail Vysokov, the late Aleksandr Kostanov, and Marina Ishchenko who led this movement and trained many of its successors. The culmination of their research is M. S. Vysokov et al., eds., Istoriia Sakhalin i Kuril’skikh ostrovov s drevneishikh vremen do nachala XXI stoletiia (History of Sakhalin and the Kuril Island from ancient times to the early 21st century).51

Their successors have actively opened up new aspects of Sakhalin Island history. Nataliia Potapova has written a number of monographs on the activities of the Christian churches on the island. Marina Gridiaeva has been actively discovering and reprinting valuable historical documents and photographic collections. Iuliia Din has used her Russian and Korean skills to reveal the historical experience of the Sakhalin Koreans.52

Japanese specialists in the study of Sakhalin Island history joined together to establish the Association for Sakhalin/Karafuto History in 2008. The members are actively collaborating with Sakhalin researchers, breaking down the barriers between Japanese and Russian history, and trying to get a complete picture of the border island between Japan and Russia. The most important result of the association is Karafuto 40-nen no Rekishi (Forty years history of Karafuto) published in 2017, the first whole history of Karafuto in Japan.53

Many Japanese researchers, such as Masafumi Miki, Manabu Takeno, and Taisho Nakayama, are experts in the history of Japanese Sakhalin. However, there are others, such as Teruyuki Hara and Naoki Amano, the editors of the Karafuto 40-nen no Rekishi, who have published works on both the Russian and Japanese periods.54

Although not so many historians from English-speaking countries are involved in researching Sakhalin/Karafuto history, some remarkable works are appearing. First and foremost, Andrew Gentes’s comprehensive and up-to-date monograph Russia’s Sakhalin Penal Colony, 1849–1917 must be mentioned.55 Gentes has collected a wide range of material from archives throughout Russia and has succeeded in providing a comprehensive account of the history of Sakhalin during the Russian Empire. Speaking of other leading researchers, Sharyl Corrado has done an outstanding job of elucidating the imagined geography of Sakhalin Island during the Russian Empire, while Steven Ivings and Jonathan Bull have written excellent articles on the pre-war and postwar mobility of people around Japanese Karafuto, using Japanese-language sources.56

Anyone serious about studying Sakhalin Island needs to master Russian, Japanese and if possible Korean. It is not easy to overcome language barriers, but there have been some achievements in overcoming these barriers through collaborative research.57

Primary Sources

Primary sources on Russian Sakhalin are located in Sakhalin, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vladivostok. The largest number of primary sources from the Russian Empire period can be found in the archives of St. Petersburg, RGIA (Russian State Historical Archive). Aleksandr Kostanov, a contributor to the renewal of the study of Sakhalin history, died in 2014 while serving as the director of this archive.

In the archives of Vladivostok, RGIA DV (Russian State Historical Archive of Russian Far East), one can also read a lot of useful material about the history of Sakhalin before the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. To learn about the repatriation of Japanese after the Russo-Japanese War of 1945, one should go to Moscow, GARF (State Archive of the Russian Federation).

Some of the Russian primary sources on the history of the Russo-Japanese war of 1945 can be found not only in the Sakhalin archive GIASO but also on the digital site Pamiat’ naroda 1941–1945 operated by TsAMO (Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation).

The archive in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, GIASO (State Historical Archive of Sakhalin Oblast) holds the documents of the Karafuto-chō (Karafuto Office), which were seized by the Soviet authorities after the Second World War. The documents of the Karafuto-chō, which were transferred to the Japanese mainland before the war, can be read in the Archives of Hokkaido located near Sapporo in Hokkaido.

It is possible to read some published collections of Russian archival documents on various periods of Sakhalin history: Pobeda sovetskoi vlasti na Severnom Sakhaline (1917–1925 gg) (Soviet victory in Northern Sakhalin [1917–1925]) (1959); Sotsialisticheskoe stroitel’stvo na Sakhaline (1925–1945 gg.) (Socialist construction on Sakhalin [1925–1945]) (1967); Istoricheskie chteniiia: Trudy Gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Sakhalinskoi oblasti 1–2 (Historical Readings: Documents of the Sakhalin Oblast State Archives 1–2) (1994–1997); Sakhalinskie koreitsy: istoriia i sovremennost’ (Sakhalin Koreans: History and present day) (2006)58 It may be difficult to find these books in ordinary university libraries. However, as they are essential for the study of Sakhalin history, it is necessary to request them from the libraries of universities with strong Russian studies programs, such as Hokkaido University in Japan, through nearby university libraries.

The conditions for collecting primary sources of Japanese history have improved dramatically in recent years. Access to the website JACAR (Japan Centre for Asian Historical Records) allows you to read documents from three official Japanese archives: The National Archives of Japan, the Diplomatic Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the National Institute for Defense Studies of the Ministry of Defense of Japan. Border barriers to the study of Japanese history are now almost nonexistent. It is now possible to carry out a professional study of Japanese history anywhere in the world.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has compiled a collection of important primary documents on Japanese diplomacy called Nihon gaikō bunsho, including Russo-Japanese relations, which can now be read on the website of the Misnistry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. You can also find annual reports and statistical materials published by the Karafuto-chō on the website of the National Diet Library Digital Collection.

Further Readings

    • Amano, Naoki.“Karafuto as a Border Island of the Empire of Japan: In Comparison with Okinawa,” Eurasia Border Review 10, no. 1 (2019): 3–19.
    • Bull, Jonathan. “Karafuto repatriates and the work of the Hakodate Regional Repatriation Centre, 1945–50,” Journal of Contemporary History 53, no. 4 (2018): 788–810.
    • Chekhov, Anton. A Journey to Sakhalin. Translated by Brian Reeve. Cambridge: Ian Faulkner, 1993.
    • Corrado, Sharyl. “The Monster in the Corner of the Map: Russian Visitors Describe. Nature on Sakhalin Island (1850–1905),” Environment and History 26, no. 4 (2020): 461–493.
    • Doroshevich, Vlas. Russia’s Penal Colony in the Far East: A Translation of Vlas Doroshevich’s “Sakhalin.” Translated and annotated by Andrew A. Gentes. London: Anthem Press, 2009.
    • Gentes, Andrew A. Russia’s Sakhalin Penal Colony, 1849–1917: Imperialism and Exile. London and New York: Routledge, 2021.
    • Howell, David L. Capitalism from Within: Economy, Society, and the State in a Japanese Fishery. Berkley: University of California Press, 1995.
    • Ivings, Steven. “Colonial Settlement and Migratory Labour in Karafuto 1905–1941.” PhD thesis, London School of Economics.
    • Paichadze, Svetlana, and Philip Seaton, eds. Voices from the Shifting Russo-Japanese Border: Karafuto/Sakhalin. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.
    • Stephan, John J. Sakhalin: A History. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1971.
    • Stephan, John J. The Kuril Islands: Russo-Japanese Frontier in the Pacific. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1974.
    • Stephan, John J. The Russian Far East: A History. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.
    • Urbansky, Sören, and Helena Barop. “Under the Red Star’s Faint Light: How Sakhalin. Became Soviet.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 18, no. 2 (2017): 283–316.
    • Gridiaeva, M. V., L. V. Dragunova, and S. A. Charochkin, eds. Na styke dvukh mirov: Iuzhnyi Sakhalin v pervye poslevoennye gody [At the Meeting Point of the Two Worlds: Southern Sakhalin soon after World War II]. Voronezh, Russia: Kovcheg, 2017.
    • Ishchenko, M. I. Russkie starozhily Sakhalina: Vtoraia polovina XIX—nachalo XX vv. [Russian Old Inhabitants in Sakhalin: From the Second Half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century]. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 2007.
    • Shcheglov, V. V. Opyt sakhalinskikh pereselenii (1853–2002 gg.) [The Experience of Migration in Sakhalin (1853–2002)]. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskaia oblastnaia tipografiia, 2019.
    • Vysokov, M. S., A. A. Vasilevskii, A. I. Kostanov, and Ishchenko, M. I., eds. Istoriia Sakhalin i Kuril’skikh ostrovov s drevneishikh vremen. do nachala XXI stoletiia [History of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands from Ancient Times to the Beginning of the 21st Century]. Yuzno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 2008.
    • Akizuki, Toshiyuki, Nichiro-kankei to Sakhalin-to: Bakumatsu Meiji-shonen no ryodo-mondai [Russo-Japanese Relations and Sakhalin Island: The territorial problem in the end of the Tokugawa shogunate period and the beginning of Meiji. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1994.
    • Hara, Teruyuki, and Naoki Amano, eds. Karafuto 40-nen no rekishi [Forty years history of Karafuto]. Tokyo: Karafuto Renmei, 2017.
    • Miki, Masafumi. Ijū-gata shokuminch Karafuto no keisei [Study of Japanese settlement colony of Karafuto. Tokyo: Hanawa shobo, 2012.


  • 1. As of January 2021, the total population of Sakhalin Oblast is 485,621, of which 4.4%, or 21,501 people, live outside Sakhalin Island, that is, on the Kuril Islands. The Kuril Islands are an archipelago of more than thirty islands, of which four are inhabited. From the north, 2,691 people live on Paramushir Island, 6,799 on Iturup Island, and 12,011 on Kunashir and Shikotan Islands.

  • 2. Reiting gorodov Rossii po urovniu zarplat—2021,” RIA Reiting, April 10, 2021.

  • 3. Toshihiko Kikuchi, Okhotsk no kodaishi (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2009), 194–197.

  • 4. Shiro Sasaki, “A History of the Far East Indigenous Peoples’ Transborder Activities between the Russian and Chinese Empires,” Senri Ethnological Studies 92 (2016): 161–193.

  • 5. See, Karafuto Ainu-shi kenkyūkai, Tsuishikari no hi: Karafuto Ainu kyōseiizhū no rekisi (Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido Shuppankikaku Center, 1992).

  • 6. Akizuki Toshiyuki, Nichiro kankei to Sakhalin-tō: bakumatsu meiji-shonen no ryōdo-mondai (Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1994), 215; Gaimushō, ed., Dainihon Gaiko Bunsho, vol. 2, book 2 (Tokyo: Gaimushō, 1936), 476.

  • 7. Naoki Amano, “Sakhalin rukei-shokuminchi no image to zittai: henken to tekiō,” Kyōkai kenkyū 1 (2010): 121–122.

  • 8. To get an idea of the history of the camp archipelago, read Solzhenitsyn’s classic work and Applebaum’s comprehensive study. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, translated from the Russian by Thomas P. Whitney (Parts I–IV) and Harry Willetts (Parts V–VII); foreword by Anne Applebaum (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2007); and Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History (New York: Anchor, 2004)

  • 9. Naoki Amano, “Sakhalin sekitan to tōhokuazia kaiikishi,” in Kindai tōhokuazia no tanjō, ed. Yukimura Sakon (Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido University Press, 2008), 83–109; and Naoki Amano, “Pochemu ne udalos’ dobit’sia uspekha v razrabotke ugol’nykh mestorozhdeii Sakhalina do russko-iaponskoi voiny?: Torgovlia uglem v Severo-Vostochnoi Azii,” in Rossiia i ostrovnoi mir Tikhogo okeana, ed. Mikhail. S. Vysokov, vol. 1 (Iuznno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 2009), 315–324.

  • 10. Naoki Amano, “Sakhalin / Karafuto: The Colony between Empires,” in Borders and Transborder Processes in Eurasia, eds. Sergei V. Sevastianov, Paul Richardson and Anton A. Kireev (Vladivostok, Russia: Dalnauka, 2013), 122–123.

  • 11. Anton Chekhov, A Journey to Sakhalin, trans. Brian Reeve (Cambridge, UK: Ian Faulkner, 1993).

  • 12. Marina I. Ishchenko, Russikie starozhily Sakhalina: vtoraia polovina XIX—nachalo XX vv. (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskoe Knizhnoe Isdatel’stvo, 2007), 38, 319–320.

  • 13. Naoki Amano, “Misuterareta shima deno sensō: kyōkai no ningen / ningen no kyōkai” in Nichiro-sensō to Sakhalin-tō, ed. Teruyuki Hara (Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido University Press, 2012), 35–64; and Naoki Amano, “Voina na zabroshennom ostrove v 1905 godu: prichiny i fakty iz istorii odnoi rezni,” in A. P. Chekhov i Sakhalin: vzgliad iz XXI stoletiia, eds. Igor’ A. Samarin and Elena I. Savel’eva (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Kolorit, 2011), 77–80.

  • 14. Mikhail. S. Vysokov, Aleksandr A. Vasilevskii, Aleksandr I. Kostanov and Marina I. Ishchenko, eds., Istoriia Sakhalin i Kuril’skikh ostrovov s drevneishikh vremen. do nachala XXI stoletiia (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhainskoe kniznoe izdatel’stvo, 2008), 376–377.

  • 15. Viktor V. Shcheglov, Opyt sakhalinskikh pereselenii (1853–2002 gg.) (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskaia oblastnaia tipografiia, 2019), 52–59.

  • 16. Anatolii Ya. Gutman (Anatoly Gan), The Destruction of Nikolaevsk-On-Amur: An Episode in the Russian Civil War in the Far East, 1920 (Russia and Asia, No. 2), trans. with an introduction by Ella Lury Wiswell, ed. Richard A. Pierce (Kingston, ON, and Fairbanks, AK: Limestone Press, 1993).

  • 17. Naoki Amano, “Asimmetrichnye peregovory: kak vidiatsia iz Iaponii peregovory po detal’nomu soglasheniiu o Severnom Sakhaline,” in V.Ia. Aboltin, Ostrov sokrovishch: Severnyi Sakhalin, eds. Marina V. Gridiaeva, Iulia I. Din and Kim Chan Ok (Moscow: Buki Vedi, 2016), 34–46.

  • 18. Manabu Takeno, “Hoshōsenryō-ka Kita Karafuto niokeru nihonjin no katsudō (1920–1925),” Keizaigaku kenkyū 62, no. 3 (2013): 34–36.

  • 19. RGASPI (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial’no-politicheskoi istorii), f. 372, op. 1, d. 39, l. 43–44.

  • 20. GIASO (Gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv Sakhalinskoi oblasti), f. P-4789, op. 2, d. 186, l. 19–47.

  • 21. Yuka Kurata, “Roshia hinanmin to Nihon no ukeiresaku,” Roshia-shi kenkyū 103 (2019): 36–37.

  • 22. Hiroyuki Shiode, Ekkyōsha no seizishi: Azia-Taiheiyō niokeru nihonjin no imin to shokumin (Nagoya, Japan: Nagoya University Press, 2015), 171–179.

  • 23. Teruyuki Hara and Naoki Amano, eds., Karafuto 40-nen no Rekishi (Tokyo: Karafuto Renmei, 2017), 89.

  • 24. Koichi Hirai, Nihon shokuminchi zaiseishi kenkyū (Tokyo: Minerva shobo, 1997), 182.

  • 25. Sakhalin/Karafuto-shi Kenkyukai [Association for Sakhalin & Karafuto History], ed., Ritsumeikan 100-nenshi hensanshitsu shozo Nakagawa Kojuro bunsho Karafuto kanrenbubun DVD, file no. 1574.

  • 26. Karafuto-chō Keisatsu-bu, Karafuto zairyū Chōsen-jin ippan (unpublished documents in possession of Hakodate Municipal Library, 1927), 7.

  • 27. Masafumi Miki, Ijū-gata shokuminch Karafuto no keisei (Tokyo: Hanawa shobō, 2012), 242–247.

  • 28. Naoki Amano, “Karafuto niokeru kokunai-shokuminchi no keisei: kokunaika to shokuminchika,” in Teikoku Nihon no idō to dōin, eds. Imanishi Hajime and Kazuyuki Iizuka (Osaka: Osaka University Press, 2018), 128–130.

  • 29. Amano, “Karafuto niokeru kokunai-shokuminchi no keisei: kokunaika to shokuminchika,” 118–122.

  • 30. For more information on the history of Karafuto coal development, see Miki’s work. Miki, Ijū-gata shokuminch Karafuto no keisei, 305–364.

  • 31. Hara and Amano, eds., Karafuto 40-nen no rekishi, 277–284.

  • 32. Naoki Amano, “Karafuto as a Border Island of the Empire of Japan: In Comparison with Okinawa,” Eurasia Border Review 10, no. 1 (2019): 15–17; and Hokkaido tankō kisen kabushiki-kaisha, Sekitan kokka tōsei shi (private edition, 1958), 375–388.

  • 33. See, Makio Yano, Shōwa 19-nen natsu, Karafuto no tankō heizan (Sapporo, Japan: Karafuto no rekishi wo manabu kai, 2006).

  • 34. Mooam Hyun and Paichadze Svetlana, photo by Haruki Gotō, Sakhalin zanryū: nikkannro hyakunenn niwataru kazoku no monogatari (Tokyo: Kōbunken, 2016), 98–119.

  • 35. See Noriyuki Nakao, Umi wataru koe (Sapporo, Japan: Hakurosha, 2019). The USSR and Russian Federation have not yet recognized that the torpedoes were launched by Soviet submarines.

  • 36. Hara and Amano, eds., Karafuto 40-nen no rekishi, 288–302.

  • 37. Yumi Kimura “Dasshutsu toiu hikiage no houhou,” Hokkaido Tōhoku-shi kenkyū 9 (2013): 5–23.

  • 38. Manabu Takeno, “Karafuto karano nihonjin hikiage (1945–1949),” in Nihon-Teikoku houkai-ki hikiage no hikaku kenkyu, eds. Yumiko Imaizumi, Yū Yanagisawa, and Kenji Kimura (Tokyo: Nihon-keizai-hyōronsha, 2016), 252–253.

  • 39. Taisho Nakayama, Sakhalin zanryū nihonjin to sengo nihon: Karafuto jūmin no kyōkai chiiki-shi (Tokyo: Kokusai shoin, 2019), 148–150.

  • 40. Masato Tamura, “Karafuto ainu no ‘hikiage’,” in Nihonteikoku wo meguru jinkō idō no kokusai shakaigaku, ed. Sinzo Araragi (Tokyo: Bensei shuppan, 2008), 463–502; and Masato Tamura, “Sakhalin senjūmin Uilta oyobi Nivkh no sengo-reisenki no kyoshū,” in Teikoku-igo no hito no idō: Postcolonialism to Globalism no kōsakuten, ed. Shinzo Araragi (Tokyo: Bensei shuppan, 2013), 209–248.

  • 41. Naoki Amano, “Kobetsuteki aiminshugi no teikoku: sengo Soren no Sakhalin chōsenjin tōchi 1945–1949,” in Hokutō-azia no Korean diaspora: Sakhalin/Karafuto wo chūshinni, ed. Hajime Imanishi (Otaru, Japan: Otaru University of Commerce Press, 2012), 127.

  • 42. Iulia. I. Din, Koreiskaia diaspora Sakhalina: problema repatriatsii i integratsiia v socetskoe i rossiiskoe obshchestvo (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskaia oblastnaia tipografiia, 2015), 107–212.

  • 43. Vserossiiskaia perepis’ naseleniia 2010, tom. 4, Natsional’nyi sostav i vladenie iazykami, grazhdanstvo (Moscow, Russia: IITs Statistika Rossii, 2012), 138–139.

  • 44. Elena I. Savel’eva, Ot voiny k miru: grazhdanskoe upravlenie na Iuzhnom Sakhaline i Kuril’skikh ostrovakh 1945–1947 (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Ministerstvo kul’tury Sakhalinskoi oblasti, 2012).

  • 45. Shcheglov, Opyt sakhalinskikh pereselenii (1853–2002 gg.), 146–147.

  • 46. Zi-kou Bok and Mikhail S. Vysokov, eds., Ekonomika Sakhalina: uchebnor posobie dlia vuzov (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: Sakhalinskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 2003), 99–125.

  • 47. Naoki Amano, “Exorcising Phantoms: Development at Border Islands in Northeast Asia,” in Geo-Politics in Northeast Asia, eds. Akihiro Iwashita, Yong-Chool Ha and Edward Boyle (London and New York: Routledge, 2022), 144–146.

  • 48. Under the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan renounced its territorial claims to South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The Kuril Islands are called the Chishima rettō (Chishima Islands) in Japanese, but the Kuril Islands referred to by the Russian Federation and the Chishima Islands referred to by Japan are strictly different. General political maps produced outside Japan, as well as Russian ones, classify the Kuril Islands as extending from the northernmost island of Shumsh, about 8 miles south of the Kamchatka Peninsula, to the southernmost island of the Habomai Archipelago, about 2.2 miles east of Cape Nosappu in Hokkaido. However, the Japanese Government claims that the Chishima Islands, which it renounced under the San Francisco Peace Treaty, refer only to the islands from Urup to the north, up to the island of Shumsh. According to the Japanese government’s view, the Habomai Archipelago, Shikotan, Kunashir, and Itrup Islands are neither Kuril Islands nor Chishima Islands, and Japan claims their territorial rights under its own regional division called “Hoppō ryōdo (the Northern Territories).” For more information on territorial disputes between Japan and Russia over the Northern Territories, see Akihiro Iwashita, Japan’s Border Issues: Pitfalls and Prospects (London and New York: Routledge, 2016).

  • 49. Gaimushō, “Hoppō ryōdo mondai no keii.”

  • 50. John J. Stephan, Sakhalin: A History (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1971); John J. Stephan, The Kuril Islands: Russo-Japanese Frontier in the Pacific (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1974); and John J. Stephan, The Russian Far East: A History (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994).

  • 51. Vysokov et al., Istoriia Sakhalin i Kuril’skikh ostrovov s drevneishikh vremen do nachala XXI stoletiia. (See note 14)

  • 52. Let me enumerate only some notable works. Natal’ia. V. Potapova, Veroispovednaia politika Rossiiskoi imperii i religioznaia zhizn’ Dal’nevo Vostoka vo vtoroi polovine XIX—nachale XX vv. (na primere Sakhalina) (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Izdatel’stvo SakhGU, 2009); Natal’ia V. Potapova, Sakhalin v eparkhial’noi presse kontsa XIX—nachala XX v. (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Izdatel’stvo SakhGU, 2015); Gridiaeva et al., eds., V.Ia. Aboltin, Ostrov sokrovishch: Severnyi Sakhalin (see note 17); Marina V. Gridiaeva, Kim Chan Ok, Larisa V. Dragunova, Petr F. Brovko and Sergei A. Charochkin, eds., Na styke dvukh mirov: Iuzhnyi Sakhalin v pervye poslevoennye gody (Voronezh, Russia: Kovcheg, 2017); and Din, Koreiskaia diaspora Sakhalina (see note 42).

  • 53. Hara and Amano, Karafuto 40-nen no Rekishi (see note 23).

  • 54. Miki, Ijū-gata shokuminch Karafuto no keisei (See Endnote No. 28); Manabu Takeno, Karafuto nogyō to shokumingaku: kinenn no kenkyūdōkō kara (Sapporo: Sapporo University, 2005); Nakayama Taisho, Akantai shokuminch Karafuto no imin shakai keisei: shuen-teki national identity to shokumichi ideology (Kyoto: Kyoto University Press, 2014); and Hara, ed., Nichiro sensō to Sakhalin-tō (see note 13).

  • 55. Andrew A. Gentes, Russia’s Sakhalin Penal Colony, 1849–1917: Imperialism and Exile (London and New York: Routledge, 2021).

  • 56. Sharyl Corrado, “The Monster in the Corner of the Map: Russian Visitors Describe Nature on Sakhalin Island (1850–1905),” Environment and History 26, no. 4 (2020): 461–493; Steven Ivings, “Recruitment and Coercion in Japan’s Far North: Evidence from Colonial Karafuto’s Forestry and Construction Industries, 1910–37,” Labor History 57, no. 2 (2016): 215–234; and Jonathan Bull, “Karafuto repatriates and the work of the Hakodate Regional Repatriation Centre, 1945–50,” Journal of Contemporary History 53, no. 4 (2018): 788–810.

  • 57. Svetlana Paichadze and Philip Seaton, eds., Voices from the Shifting Russo-Japanese Border: Karafuto/Sakhalin (London and New York: Routledge, 2015); and Sören Urbansky and Helena Barop, “Under the Red Star’s Faint Light: How Sakhalin Became Soviet,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 18, no. 2 (2017): 283–316.

  • 58. Tsentral’nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv RSFSR Dal’nego Vostoka, Pobeda sovetskoi vlasti na Severnom Sakhaline (1917–1925 gg) (Yuzhino-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1959); Tsentral’nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv RSFSR Dal’nego Vostoka, Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Sakhalinskoi oblasti, and Partiinyi arkhiv sakhalinskogo obkoma KPSS, Sotsialisticheskoe stroitel’stvo na Sakhaline (1925-1945 gg.) (Yuzhino-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskaia oblastnaia tipografiia, 1967); Gosudarsvennyi arkhiv Sakhalinskoi oblasti, Istoricheskie chteniiia: Trudy Gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Sakhalinskoi oblasti 1–2 (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: Sakhalinskoe oblastnoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1994–1997); and A. T. Kuzin, ed., Sakhalinskie koreitsy: istoriia i sovremennost’ (Yuzhino-Sakhalinsk, Russia: Sakhalinskoe oblastnoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 2006).