An informed reader begs to differ with something I typed up a few days ago:
"* Yes, yes, I am aware that a return of the Southern Kuriles to Japan would be a real blow to the commanders of the Pacific Fleet, reducing the ability of Russian submarines to slip in or out of the Sea of Okhotsk undetected."
Actually, the Soviet subs transit to the Sea of Okhotsk via the La Perouse or Soya Strait between Hokkaido and Sakhalin Island. And it's so shallow and dangerous they typically have to do it on the surface, w/ an escort ship.
In fact, supposedly the USS Wahoo, a very famous WWII sub, was just found where it was thought to have been sunk, during a transit through the Soya Strait into the Sea of Japan.
Probably sunk during a night transit, on the surface, under a half moon. Caught by shorebased seaplane bombers.
See Amazon.com for "Wake of the Wahoo: The Heroic Story of America's Most Daring WWII Submarine, USS Wahoo"
and this is why Stalin wanted at least the northern half of Hokkaido.
The Kuriles help seal the bastion in the Sea of Okhotsk from outside
The Russian occupation of the Northern Territories keeps the Sea of Okhotsk free of pesky intruders--and, of course, the islands themselves free of golf courses.
* A recent fair and balanced assessment from a regular Shisaku reader.