48 years after the Japan's occupation and regaining full sovereignty Russia and Japan still do not have a full normalization of relations, because they do not have a peace treaty yet. The USSR did not sign the San Francisco Peace Treaty in September 1951 because it did not recog nize Soviet sovereignty over southern Sakhalin and the Kuriles which the Soviets, according to secret Yalta Agreement of Feb. 11th, 1945, took over in August 1945 to incorporate them into the Soviet territory in September 1946. Tokyo and Moscow started the peace negotiations in London in June 1955 and finished them in October 1956 in Moscow. Unfortunately, they did not agree upon a peace treaty because of the differences on the terri torial problem. As a result of two year peace negotiations The Russo-Jap anese Joint Declaration was signed in Moscow on 19th October 1956. Both states resumed the diplomatic relations and decided to leave the territo rial issue for the future consideration, including the conclusion of the peace treaty. During the peace negotiations Japan insisted that the Soviets should return a group of islands called by the Japanese "The Northern Territo ries", or the South Kuriles by the Russians. This group of islands off northeastern Hokkaido consists of Etorofu, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomais, which are a cluster of small islands. Their total area amounts to 4,996 square kilometers. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century these islands were connected with Japan and that was formally con firmed in the Shimoda Treaty signed by Japan and Russia on 7 Feb. 1855. The line separating the zones of Russian and Japanese influence was established between Etorofu and Urup. It was the first Russo-Japanese border. At the end of World War II, 16,505 Japanese lived on these is lands, most of them working in the fishing industry. The Soviets took this territory between August 29 and September 3 by the army which came from Sakhalin. For many years Japan has insisted on the return of these group of islands as a precondition of full normalization, i.e. signing of peace treaty.