Territorial disputes are a key element of Japanese security, directly affecting Tokyo's relations with all three of its closest neighbors: China, Russia and South Korea. Because of its complex history of repeated invasions as well as militaristic expansion, Japan has accumulated a tangled legacy of conflicts and disputes with its neighbors over four contiguous territories, namely Senkaku, Dokdo, the Kuril Islands and Okinatorishima Atoll, claiming or disputing sovereignty over them. The first three of the four disputes in which Japan is involved, are a direct result of Japan's participation in World War II and the lack of clear wording in the resulting treaties on ownership of a particular territory. The fourth dispute, over Okinatori Atoll, is special because it relates to a modern interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The article presents Tokyo's position based on Japanese documents and the positions of Beijing, Seoul and Moscow, mainly based on the Cairo and Postdam declarations and the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The author illustrated his arguments with maps. Physiographic and historical approaches were used during the analysis. The author's examination of these disputes provides a clear picture of how the changing security environment has affected the position of Japan and its neighbors over time. During the analysis the author concludes that Japan has successfully applied the principle of “ryodogaiko” – territorial diplomacy to achieve progress in the disputes over Senkaku and Okinatorishima islands, but has not yet had proper results about Dokdo and the Kuril Islands.
Marina Sholkova, Diplomatic Academy, Russia
About the Presenter(s)
Ms. Sholkova Marina is a postgraduate student of the Diplomatic Academy. She was working as a diplomat in the Russian Embassy in Kazakhstan and the Russian Consulate General in Osaka, Japan. Ms.Sholkova is interested in Japanese policy of security.
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