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.
This analysis evaluates the key factors involved in Japan's three territorial disputes with Russia, China and South Korea. First, the analysis provides a brief background for each dispute, examining their origins in Japan's pre-World War II Imperial expansion and the post-war settlement.