The existence of territorial and diplomatic disputes in East Asia raises serious concerns and, if escalated, could risk the region’s stability and prosperity. Focusing on three territorial and diplomatic disputes involving Japan, the Northern Territories, Takeshima, and the Senkaku Islands, this article explores ways to manage those disputes so as to maintain regional stability and prevent the situation from escalating in consistent with international law, practice and norms. The most basic principles to be adhered in this regard include, first, allowing the other party (or parties) to disagree, and second, maintaining the status quo not trying to change it by force. While these measures cannot by themselves solve the disputes, we at least need to prevent the current tensions from escalating into armed conflicts amongst the involved parties.
Michito Tsuruoka, Dr Michito Tsuruoka is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), Ministry of Defense, Japan. In 2013-2014, he is also a Visiting Fellow at Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), London.
*The views expressed in this article are strictly the author’s alone and in no way represent those of the NIDS, the Ministry of Defense, the Government of Japan or RUSI.