A.L. Anisimov – On some directions of falsification of the history of the Soviet-Japanese war of 1945


The article analyzes such directions of falsification of the history of the Soviet-Japanese war of 1945 as: US President F.D. Roosevelt sought to “draw the USSR into the war against Japan”; during the war in the Pacific and Europe, Japan “did not think of a ‘northern option’ of aggression; The Soviet Union began the war in 1945 out of “mercantile” interests, sought to detach from Japan Southern Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, the lease of Port Arthur; the allies in the Atlantic Charter and the Cairo Declaration put forward the principle of “not expanding territories”, so the accession of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands to the Soviet Union is illegal; Roosevelt did not know about the Japanese ownership of the Kuril Islands and did not carefully read the documents on the Kuril Islands prepared for him by American specialists, so he agreed to give the Japanese islands to the USSR, not taking into account their strategic importance.


Key words:

falsification, history, Soviet-Japanese war, 1945, Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, Roosevelt, Stalin, Japan, USA, Soviet Union.


In today’s world was formed a system of informational confrontation, one of the purposes of which is to reformat the Russian public consciousness, as this has already been done in Ukraine, Georgia and in numerous states of the post-Soviet space. Falsification of history has its own purpose – that is – to weaken the modern Russia by depriving its people of true historical memory, by understating the historical role of Russia as a guarantor of stability in Eurasia, by limiting its influence on world processes, by destroying economic and political ties with other states, especially with the former countries of the USSR, by creating internal political instability.

The falsification of history is, on the one hand, a deliberate misrepresentation of historical facts, their biased interpretation, selective quotation and manipulation of sources in order to create a distorted image of historical reality; and on the other hand, it is a historical myth-making.

Let us give some examples of a biased interpretation of historical facts, manipulation of sources, historical myth-making on the example of falsification of the history of the Soviet-Japanese war of 1945.

Thus, the Russian historian I.V. Mazurov in the article “Pages of the Diplomatic History of the Soviet-Japanese War of 1945” [6, p. 42-56] claims that US President F.D. Roosevelt sought to “drag the USSR into the war against Japan” [6, p. 43].

In order to estimate the reasons and the motives for the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan during the Second World War properly, it is necessary to know about the assistance that the United States of America provided to the USSR during the most difficult periods of the war with Germany (1941-1942).

Let us provide some facts. On July 3, 1941, Washington transmitted to Moscow reliable, in its opinion, information about Japan’s intention to cancel the neutrality pact and to attack the USSR as soon as it bleeds to death in battles with Germany. US President F. Roosevelt expressed his willingness not only to continue helping in the fight against Germany, but he also stated that in this case the United States would terminate all economic relations with Japan, although Washington was not in a state of war with Tokyo then.

On July 10 of the same year, Washington reported again on the oncoming aggression of Japan against the USSR, the first step of which was to close the Sangarsky and La Perouse straits for Soviet ships (in fact, the straits were soon closed). The second step was to invade the USSR. On October 6, 1942, the US representative, Bradley, at the negotiations in Moscow asked on behalf of Roosevelt whether Stalin needed help in case of Japanese aggression, as the American intelligence agency had information about it. In response to this proposal and the information, Stalin replied that despite the assurance of neutrality and adherence to the pact, Japan could violate it and attack the USSR at any moment.

In spite of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the mood of American society, Roosevelt saw the main enemy during this period not in Japan, but in Germany – reported the American side to the USSR Foreign Minister Molotov on July 1, 1942 [10, p. 247, 194.52 – 53, 62 – 63.]

The very next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 8, 1941, US Secretary of State K. Hull had a conversation with the USSR Ambassador to Washington, Litvinov, during which he asked the Soviet government to allow the United States to use airbases on Soviet territory for basing American bomber aircrafts, which could act against Japan. In fact, it was about the entry of the USSR into the war against Japan. Three days later, after consulting with the leadership, Litvinov replied that the USSR was not in a position to enter the war, as it waged a “huge struggle with Germany.” Therefore, the Kremlin did not rule out the possibility of war with Japan on the side of the United States, but only after the victory over Germany. Hull expressed understanding and emphasized that the United States and the USSR were fighting against “world aggression by international gangsters who would not voluntarily stop their aggressive efforts, and … someone had to stop them.”

Hull also warned that he had information that Japan had a strong commitment to Germany to attack the USSR when Hitler demanded it [1, p. 370-371; 2, p. 415, 417].

So, since December 1941, neither the British nor the Americans doubted that their ally, the USSR, would wage a war against the Far Eastern aggressor, Japan. The only question was the time limitation. This is not at all similar to Roosevelt’s desire to “drag the USSR into the war against Japan,” as I.V. Mazurov claims.

The United States and Britain were not the only ones wishing the USSR to wage war in the Pacific. Another member of the coalition, China, was also interested in this. On December 9, 1941, Chiang Kai-shek, President of the Republic of China entrusted to the Chinese ambassador in Moscow, Hu Shi, and to his brother-in-law, T. Sun, seek for the simultaneous declaration of war on Japan by the Soviet Union and China [1, p. 371].

By the beginning of 1943, it became clear that the war in the European theater would end with the victory of the anti-Hitler coalition, and in January 1943, as Roosevelt’s advisor W. Legy was recalling, Stalin informed the American General Harley that after the defeat of Germany, the USSR would take part in the war against Japan and repeated this promise to the Secretary of State Hull in October 1943, at a conference of the Foreign Ministers of the USSR, the USA and Great Britain in Moscow.

Churchill also understood that the USSR could not start war with Japan before the defeat of Germany, but the Prime Minister had no doubts that it would fight Japan. So he tried to convince the American public opinion in this. Churchill wrote that Hitler was the enemy number 1, that militaristic Japan played the ‘role of a hyena’, and if Germany was defeated, the fate of Japan would be foredoomed.

Yet in December 1941, the supreme military-political leadership of the United States and Great Britain began to plan the upcoming offensive operations against Japan, involving the USSR. Thereby, at the Washington Conference of 1941, in a memorandum to the heads of their states, the US Chiefs of Staff Committee and the British Chiefs of Staff Committee noted the need to have a Primorsky Territory in the Russian Far East to deploy an offensive against Japan.

At the II Washington (May 1943) and I Quebec (August 1943) conferences, in the final reports of the United Anglo-American Staff Committee approved by Roosevelt and Churchill, it was noted that the goal was “to achieve the unconditional surrender of the ‘axis’ powers together with Russia and other allies as soon as possible.” The strategic plan provided for interaction with Russia in the fight against Japan after the defeat of the Axis powers in Europe to achieve the purpose of the war [1, p. 420; 11, p. 392, 391].

Thus, the allies waged a common war both in Europe and in the Pacific against a common enemy – Germany, Japan and their allies. The war in the east, involving the USSR was being prepared for a long time, and only events in Europe kept Moscow from entering the war with Japan.

I.V. Mazurov insists that during the war in the Pacific and in Europe, Japan “did not think about the ‘northern option’ of aggression, but sought to rely on the agreement with the USSR in order to get out of the deadlock into which it drove itself.” [6, p. 42] The facts say otherwise. In the summer of 1941, the General Staff of Japan developed a plan under the codename “Kontokuen” (“Kwantung Army Special Maneuvers”) to attack the USSR. The attack was supposed to be unexpected, but the implementation of this plan was postponed due to the defeat of Germany near Moscow.

In January 1942, Japan, Germany and Italy signed a military agreement on joint actions against their opponents, on the delimitation of zones of hostilities, on operational-strategic interaction, on the exchange of military information, on cooperation in economic and psychological warfare. Let us remind you that at that time the Soviet Union was in a state of war with Germany, and had signed neutrality pact with Japan.

In January 1942, Japan developed a plan to create a ‘sphere of prosperity’, including Siberia and the Soviet Far East. In the top secret project of the same year “the Program of total war of the first period of building East Asia” it was envisaged to inflict “the most powerful first strike” on the Soviet Union in the Far East area. In addition, there were developed special plans for the colonization of Siberia, according to which it was planned to introduce a military occupation administration and  to resettle the Japanese to Siberia.

In the summer of 1942, a plan for a strategic offensive by German and Japanese forces against the allies, including the USSR, was drawn up. In 1943 this plan was supplemented by an agreement on cooperation in economic sphere, according to which the partners agreed to help each other “with all available economic means to establish a new order in Europe and East Asia as soon as possible.” The plan was also supplemented by a secret protocol in which Japan and Germany proclaimed the establishment of their hegemony over the world. According to the protocol, the Japanese-German border was to pass through the Urals. In the same year Germany and Japan signed an agreement on the exchange of intelligence data on the Soviet Union. Japan passed on to its ally information about the military potential of the Soviet Far East. German military representatives in Tokyo admitted that “the information received from Japan was of great importance for the German army and was used by it in military operations against the USSR.”

At the Tokyo trial generals of the Japanese army M. Keisaku, S. Ryuzo, M. Tokamatsu, K. Seiin, O. Kajima and others confirmed the existence of plans for an attack on the Soviet Union. They stated that such plans and preparation for them were carried out until mid-1944.1

Japan was not only developing plans for an attack on the USSR, but was almost completely ready to implement these plans. There is a lot of incontrovertible evidence of this, in particular, the correspondence between the foreign ministers of Japan and Germany. But the Japanese leadership wanted to start a war against the USSR when it was weakened (so called ‘ripe persimmon’ strategy), however, more favorable times for Japan never came because of the success of the Soviet forces over Germany.

Another thesis of I.V. Mazurov is following: The Soviet Union started the war in 1945 out of “mercantile” interests, it sought to seize South Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, the lease of Port Arthur, the CER and the SMR from Japan [6, p. 45-47].

But the documents say otherwise.

On October 30, 1943, in a conversation with Hull in Moscow, on his own initiative, Stalin raised the issue of war with Japan, stating that the USSR would take part in the defeat of Japan and at the same time, as Hull recalled later, “he did not ask for anything in return,” and this Stalin’s promise “was not conditioned by anything” [2, p. 417, 415, 428, 434, 436].

On the other hand, back in the spring of 1943, Roosevelt and his associates believed that after the defeat of Japan, the southern part of Sakhalin should have withdrawn to the USSR, as was reported to Moscow by the USSR Ambassador to Great Britain Maisky on April 13, 1943, referring to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of England A. Eden [1, p. 395].


1 For more details on Japan’s preparation for a war against the USSR, see: [8; 7; 3, v. 2-4; 4] and others.


When at the Tehran Conference Roosevelt raised the question of the participation of the Soviet Union in the war with Japan, Stalin implicitly spoke in favor of joint actions. He welcomed the success of the Anglo-American forces in the Pacific Ocean and expressed regret that the USSR “cannot yet join its efforts to the efforts of our Anglo-American friends, because our own forces are occupied in the west and we do not have enough strength to take any operations against Japan… To carry out offensive operations this strength must be increased at least threefold. This can take place when we force Germany to surrender. Then attack – with a common front against Japan. ”

At the same time, preliminary planning of the war in the Pacific was agreed upon after the outbreak of hostilities between the USSR and Japan [11, p. 372]. It was not about “trying to drag the USSR into a war against Japan,” but about coordinating the joint efforts of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition against the aggressor states.

After Tehran, Roosevelt himself proposed to Stalin to formulate the political interests of the Soviet Union in the war with Japan. In December 1944, Stalin made some specific proposals to Harriman regarding the USSR’s claims in the Far East.

Back in 1941, even before the attack on the United States or during the planning of war against the Soviet Union, the Japanese leadership should have understood that in this case Japan would have to fight the entire anti-Hitler coalition. The fate of the pact with the USSR was decided by Japan itself on December 7, 1941. The leadership of the Japanese Empire showed an incomprehension of the situation, an inability to assess and predict. With the beginning of a radical turning point in the war in 1943 and the strengthening of the anti-Hitler coalition (after Tehran), the war of all powers against Japan was only a matter of time, which was confirmed by the further development of events. Wherein, it was about the surrender of Japan, and not about peace, especially a separate one, which the leadership in Tokyo hoped for. Even at the II Washington and I Quebec conferences, the United States and England set as a common goal to achieve “unconditional surrender of Japan together with Russia, using the enormous resources of the United Nations” [11, p. 372].

At the Moscow conference of the foreign ministers of the USSR, the USA and Great Britain, in October 1943, following the suggestion of a member of the British delegation, General Ismay, the goal of the coalition war with Japan was set: to force it to surrender. The rest of the participants supported this idea [12, p. 536].

I.V. Mazurov believes that the allies under the Atlantic Charter and the Cairo Declaration have put forward the principle of ‘not expanding territories’, therefore the joining of Sakhalin and the Kuriles to the Soviet Union is illegal. And the decisions of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences have no legal force for Japan, since they are only “agreements of intent” [6, p. 53]. But, strictly speaking, both the Atlantic Charter and the Cairo Declaration are also “agreements of intent” and are not binding, unlike the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, according to which Japan renounced all the Kuril Islands. This treaty is binding on Japan and must be abide by it.

The countries of the anti-Hitler coalition had other principles: punishment of the aggressor, prevention of future aggression from its territory and compensation for damage and costs of the war.

Due to this, even in the case of Germany, a precedent was created when East Prussia was torn away from it and transferred to Poland and the Soviet Union, as well as Silesia, Pomerania and other lands, which were transferred to Poland, despite the principle of  ‘not expanding territories’. Other approaches played a role here, and they turned out to be more significant. Germany agreed to this (it could not help but agree, as it signed an act of unconditional surrender and handed its fate into the hands of the winners). It recognized the post-war borders, its territorial losses as payment for aggression, for genocide, for material damage caused to European countries, primarily to Poland and the Soviet Union. And no one in this case demands repentance from Russia, and even more so from Poland, no one demands the return of the “northern”, “eastern” or “southeastern”, “originally German” territories.

This precedent was extended to Japan, which lost all of its island possessions in Oceania, territories conquered in China and Korea, South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands (it was the Kuriles that were the base from where Japan attacked the United States in December 1941). Here the principles of punishing the aggressor, preventing new aggression from its territory in the future and compensating for losses also turned out to be more significant. All of these actions are consistent with Anglo-Saxon law, which underlies modern international law.

On September 2, 1945, Japan signed a surrender pact (Shigemitsu Ma-moru and Uiezu Yoshijiro, Douglas MacArthur, I.V. Nimitz, Su Yunchan, Bruce Frazer, Kuzma Nikolaevich Derevyanko), in which, in paragraph 1, it was said that they accept “the terms of the declaration published on July 26 in Potsdam by the heads of the United States, China, Great Britain and the subsequently joined USSR.” In p. 6 it was said that “we hereby give an obligation that the Japanese government and its successors will honestly fulfill the conditions of the Potsdam Declaration” [3, vol. IV, p. 296, 297].

The 8th condition of the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945 stated that “the Japanese sovereignty will be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and those smaller islands that we indicate” [3, vol. IV, p. 261; 9, p. 358]. Thus, it was clearly stated that the Kuril Islands would not belong to Japan, which was confirmed in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty.

In addition, these territorial changes of Japan were formalized strictly in accordance with the standards of international law – in the 1951 peace treaty signed by Japan without any reservations or claims. The author of this treaty was not the Soviet Union, but the United States. Under the agreement, Japan renounced any rights, legal grounds and claims to South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, not the North or South, but all the Kuril Islands.

I.V. Mazurov says that Roosevelt was not aware of the Japanese identity of the Kuril Islands and did not carefully read the documents on the Kuril Islands prepared for him by American specialists, so he agreed to give the Japanese islands to the USSR, not taking into account their strategic importance [6, p. 47]. But the islands were finally taken by Truman in 1951 by the decision of the San Francisco Conference. As for Roosevelt, he was very well aware of the strategic importance of the islands. It was from Kunashir Island that the Japanese United Squadron left for Pearl Harbor, it was on the Kuril Islands that Japanese pilots practiced the attack on this American base, and it was from the Kuril Islands that Japanese forces landed on the Aleutian Islands, belonging to the United States.

Roosevelt’s understanding of the strategic position of the Kuril Islands was also manifested in his plans to use them as a support base for operations against Japan. He made such an offer to Stalin back in Tehran.

Roosevelt also knew about the division of the Kuril Islands into North and South. In the “Preliminary planning of naval operations in the north-western part of the Pacific Ocean”, which he handed over to Stalin in Tehran, dated November 29, 1943, it was said about possible assistance from the Soviet Union “if the United States launched an offensive on the northern group of the Kuril Islands” [11, p. 456].

The President of the United States also realized the strategic importance of the Kuril Islands for the USSR. According to the memoirs of Hopkins, Roosevelt was convinced that Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were “absolutely necessary for the maintenance of security of Russia in the Far East” [1, p. 395].

The social aspect of the falsifications of the history of the Soviet-Japanese war of 1945 is associated with the fact that the falsification is intended for wide sections of the population, who will not check every fact under archives or academic works. The purposes of falsification are to change the national consciousness, to manipulate it, to benefit from economic, political and geopolitical spheres, to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation and isolate it, and to carry out ‘orange’ revolutions.

It is necessary to counteract any attempts to falsify history and not only history, to pay sufficient attention to information warfare, both within the country and in the international arena, with the aim of the country’s economic growth, political and geopolitical influence in the world.

A.L. Anisimov

Phil. in History, Professor,

Department of Humanities, Social and Economic Sciences,

Far Eastern Law Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

of the Russian Federation, Khabarovsk

Source: Вестник ЦИМО в АТР. № 6. 2021

Терминологический словарь 

  • falsification of history – фальсификация истории
  • biased interpretation – тенденциозная трактовка (фактов)
  • selective quotation – выборочное цитирование
  • manipulation of sources – манипуляция источниками
  • distorted image – искаженное изображение
  • historical myth-making – историческое мифотворчество
  • negotiations – переговоры
  • neutrality pact – пакт о нейтралитете
  • assurance of neutrality – заверение о соблюдении нейтралитета
  • bomber aircrafts – бомбардировщики
  • to wage war – вести войну
  • strong commitment – прочное обязательство
  • European theater – Европейский театр военных действий
  • anti-Hitler coalition – антигитлеровская коалиция
  • offensive operations – наступательные операции
  • memorandum – памятная записка (прим. политический термин)
  • axis powers – страны «оси»
  • ‘northern option’ of aggression – «северный вариант» агрессии
  • deadlock – тупик / безвыходное положение
  • delimitation of zones of hostilities – разграничение зон боевых действий
  • operationalstrategic interaction – оперативно-стратегическое взаимодействие
  • exchange of military information – обмен военной информацией
  • cooperation in economic and psychological warfare – сотрудничество в области ведения экономической и психологической войны
  • ‘sphere of prosperity’ – сфера процветания
  • ‘ripe persimmon’ strategy – стратегия «спелой хурмы»
  • joint actions – объединенные усилия
  • outbreak of hostilities – начало военных действий
  • aggressor states – страны-агрессоры
  • radical turning point – коренной перелом
  • war of all powers – война всех держав
  • unconditional surrender – безоговорочная капитуляция
  • principle of ‘not expanding territories’ – принцип «не расширения территорий»
  • agreement of intent – договор о намерениях
  • costs of war – военные затраты
  • post-war borders – послевоенные границы
  • territorial losses – территориальные потери
  • to underlie modern international law – лежать в основе современного международного права
  • to fulfill the conditions – выполнять условия (декларации)
  • standards of international law – нормы международного права
  • legal grounds – правооснования
  • to be aware of – быть осведомленным
  • take into account – принимать во внимание / учитывать
  • strategic importance – стратегическая важность
  • Japanese United Squadron – японская Объединенная эскадра
  • strategic position – стратегическое положение
  • support base – опорная база
  • maintenance of security – поддержание безопасности
  • to benefit from – извлекать выгоду из
  • to impose sanctions – вводить санкции
  • orangerevolutions – «оранжевые» революции
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