I just learned that Japan and Russia never formally signed a peace treaty after WWII, and according to Wiki

As of 2015 matters remain unresolved

Does that mean that Japan and Russia are still technically at war? And does that make this Japan-Russia "war" the longest active war today? I seem to remember reading that it was the North-South Korean relationship which was technically the longest active war today.

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    By the way: There was also no official peace treaty between Germany and the Allies either until the two-plus-four agreement in 1991. And there are a few people who claim that this agreement isn't a proper peace treaty either so WWII is technically still not resolved (I would call these people conspiracy nuts, though).
    – Philipp
    May 30, 2015 at 10:34
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    Being technically at war seems to be a bit meaningless term if there is technically no difference to being technically at peace. Aug 15, 2017 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


Surprisingly International Law is much less clear than one would think, but this doesn't seems to be the case.
For one Russia did not exist at that time and so it cannot be at war with anybody since World War II. This also explains why, however you look at it, the Korean War is the longest active war.

But the main reason is that while Soviet Union and Japan never signed a peace treaty they did sign a joint declaration of the end of the state of war that also reestablished normal diplomatic relations. Which is something that North and South Korea have not done. In the same declarations formally decided that they would have started negotiations to sign a peace treaty. It's like you and some other person agree that something you have done together was a mistake but you disagree on whose fault it was.
Let's put this way: they are not a war but they don't know what peace they want yet.

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    Russia existed as the Russian Soviet Republic. However you got a point that the USSR is often confused with Russia, similarly to how the UK is often confused with England. Since Russia is the diplomatic successor of USSR, the OP's question is still valid.
    – Bregalad
    May 29, 2015 at 8:05
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    I think it all boils down to the question if Russia and Soviet Union are considered the same thing, by foreign diplomats and/or their people. I would say no. You could say yes. Still Japan and Russia are not at war and don't behave toward each other as if the were.
    – gabriele
    May 29, 2015 at 9:58
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    Sorry, #1 is 100% totally false. AFAIK, Russian Federation fully assumed 100% of international relationships from USSR.
    – user4012
    May 29, 2015 at 16:49
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    Nobody dispute that Russia is the successor state of the USSR, but does this count for measuring records ? I am not sure about that. For instance it doesn't count in international sports competitions, such as the Olympics. I doubt there is an official international law that settle the issue.
    – gabriele
    May 29, 2015 at 18:19
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    @gabriele: Yes it does count. USSR -> Russia was an example of an orderly state succession. Russia inherited all USSR:s legal responsibilities and privileges except for border agreements obviously. Aug 16, 2017 at 18:03


The state of war between Japan and Allied Powers was terminated at the signing of San Francisco Treaty of 1951.

USSR refused to sign the treaty, due to dispute over Kuril Islands (which were promised to USSR during Yalta Conference, but not Potsdam, and the treaty was based on Potsdam for reasons discussed on Wikipedia)

The U.S. maintains that until a peace treaty between Japan and Russia is concluded, the disputed Northern Territories remain Japanese territory under Russian control via General Order No. 1. (reference: Bruce A. Elleman, Michael R. Nichols and Matthew J. Ouimet, A Historical Reevaluation of America's Role in the Kuril Islands Dispute, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 71, No. 4 (Winter, 1998-1999), pp. 489-504)

This Asia Times article has a good look at the issue of Kurils.

As of 2015, the issue is still unsettled and therefore Russia and Japan are not in a state of peace yet.

  • What about my comment on North/South Korea? May 25, 2015 at 4:17
  • @DavidGrinberg - they are a separate question and as such should be asked separately :)
    – user4012
    May 26, 2015 at 2:41
  • it's on the same topic, I really don't think this merits a new question. This isnt a help vampire situation. If you are really demanding a separate question I will, but it's going to be 90% duplicate May 26, 2015 at 4:22
  • @DavidGrinberg - I'm not "demanding" but as I don't see them as the same question, I won't be putting an answer to the second one here
    – user4012
    May 26, 2015 at 5:05
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    "...Russia and Japan are not in a state of peace yet." For all practical purposes it looks like they are. How would you call a war where nobody goes and nobody does something about it if not peace? At the most it's a bit of verbal bickering, not a war. Aug 15, 2017 at 11:56

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