Kuril Islands dispute-between Japan and Russia
Kuril Island dispute is a dispute between Japan and Russia over sovereignty of the southernmost Kuril Islands. The disputed islands, which were occupied by Soviet forces during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of World War II, are currently under Russian administration as part of the Sakhalin Oblast, but are claimed by Japan, which refers to them as the Northern Territories or Southern Chishima.
At present, Japan and Russia are jointly involved in three major energy projects: the Sakhalin I and Sakhalin II projects, the construction of an oil pipeline for the transportation of the energy resources from East Siberia and a project to construct a network of gas pipelines in Northeast Asia, which is no more than an idea for the future. Recently, construction of an oil pipeline from East Siberia became a main topic of intergovernmental talks between Japan and Russia and also Russia and China. The reason for such strong interests in this project lies in the role of energy in ensuring long-term prosperity for these countries as well as the geo-strategic significance energy can provide in the region. Cooperation in the energy sector is a ‘win-win’ situation for both countries. For Russia, Japan would be a profitable market for its mineral resources as 90 percent of its oil and gas is sold to Europe. It also benefits from Japanese technology and investment in order to exploit untapped resources in the unfriendly Siberian region. On the other hand, Russian oil and gas could reduce Japan’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil, as 89 percent of its oil and gas comes from the Middle East and passes through the vulnerable Malacca Strait.
Today, energy has become more of a geopolitical product than a commercial good. Countries are involved in fierce competition for controlling hydrocarbon resources to promote their energy as well as security interests. Of late, a competition between Japan and China has emerged for securing the role of primary partner for Russian energy exports from the Far East. China expects a China bound pipeline carrying Russian oil to the Pacific coast would leverage its position in the energy starving East Asian region. While Japan fears that if China gets a major sway in the Russian hydrocarbon sector, it could instigate vulnerability in its energy security. In this regard, the competition for Russian oil and gas is not only for ensuring energy security of the respective countries but also is an element in a deeper geopolitical contest driven by the differing strategic imperatives of each country.
Actually, the ‘Pacific Pipeline’ will provide Tokyo with an economically viable source of energy and would ensure less vulnerability in its energy security, which also helps reinvigorate a strategic partnership with Moscow. Japan has offered considerable economic aid and investment in the energy sector of the far eastern region in order to successfully complete the ‘Northern Route’ pipeline at the earliest time possible. On the other hand, Russia sees both pipelines as an opportunity to maximize its position by leveraging its energy ranking from a ‘zero-sum’ game into a ‘win-win’ situation. Russia exploits energy as a strategic weapon to win friends, as it has partially been successful with regard to Europe. It may thus hope to do the same in Asia, too. Significantly, Russia expects no real threat or challenge from Japan (other than the unresolved territorial dispute). On the other hand, it views China more as a rival power, at least in Asia. Despite its rather reluctant partnership with Beijing, Moscow is consumed by a fear of Chinese expansion and penetration into the vulnerable Far East of Russia.
Japan's current view of the dispute is given in the official pamphlet of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration do not apply to the Northern Territories because the Northern Territories never belonged to Russia even before 1904-1905. Russia has not claimed the disputed islands since diplomatic relations with Japan began in 1855; thus they were not acquired by Japan "by violence and greed". The Yalta Agreement "did not determine the final settlement of the territorial problem, as it was no more than a statement by the then leaders of the Allied Powers as to principles of the postwar settlement. (A peace treaty should settle territorial issues.) Furthermore, Japan is not bound by this document, to which it did not agree.” Although by the terms of Article of the 1951 San Francisco treaty Japan renounced all rights to the Kuril Islands, the treaty does not apply to the islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and the Habomai rocks since they are not included in the Kuril Islands. In addition, the Soviet Union did not sign the San Francisco treaty.
Russia maintains that all of the Kuril Islands, including the disputed islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and the Habomai rocks, became a part of Russia as a result of World War II, that Russia's rights to the islands are guaranteed by the international agreements including the Yalta Agreement and the Treaty of San Francisco, and that Russia has unquestionable sovereignty over these islands.
The maritime dispute between Russia and Japan over the Kurile Islands in the Pacific waters can be seen as less problematic and non-militaristic. Both Japan and Russia have begun cooperating in various sectors while dealing with this long-standing territorial dispute on the negotiating table. Both have agreed to exploit marine resources jointly near the waters of Kuril Islands and have decided that the dispute must be resolved through non-military means. Medvedev, the new Russian President, has already declared that he will carry forward the agenda set by his predecessor Putin in its relationship with Japan and will seek to conclude a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. A closer and better relationship between Japan and Russia could bring more stability, economic progress and inclusive growth in Northeast Asia.
Senkaku Islands dispute between Japan, Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China
The Senkaku Islands, also known as the Pinnacle Islands, are a group of disputed, uninhabited islands currently controlled by Japan, but also claimed by the Republic of China (ROC. as part of Toucheng Township in Yilan County, Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China(PRC). The islands are located roughly northeast of Taiwan, due west of Okinawa, and due north of the end of the Ryukyu Islands in the East China Sea. Their status has emerged as a major issue in foreign relations between the People's Republic of China and Japan and between Japan and the Republic of China. Japanese government regards these islands as a part of Okinawa prefecture. While the complexity of the PRC-ROC relation has affected efforts to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the islands, both governments agree that the islands are part of Taiwan province. The islands were claimed by Japan in January 1895 (with no previous owners apparent) and were registered in the land registry of Yaeyama-gun (administrative center: Ishigaki Island) in 1896. They are currently administered by Japan as a part of Ishigaki City, Okinawa prefecture. According to both the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), the islands are part of Taiwan Province, where they were registered after the start of the dispute.
This dispute was not an issue until the UN "suggested" that there might be oil deposit in the Senkaku area in early 1970s. Before that time, the three governments seemed to be less than enthusiastic about the Diaoyutai Islands. The issue is related to the ownership of natural resource and the territory it is on.
However, as mentioned above, this dispute was not simply about "oil". It also involved other circumstances in the three countries. Clearly, the Senkaku has a strong implication of nationalism. National pride concerning the islands is an issue for the three countries, especially for the Chinese and Taiwanese given the recent history of Japanese aggression.
An even more important significance of the Senkaku Islands is its implication for other island and maritime disputes involving China, Japan and Taiwan. For the PRC, the Senkaku issue is linked to China's other maritime claims, particularly with regard to the South China Sea. The reason that Beijing government cannot soften their attitude toward the Senkaku is clear. If they soften their posture over the Senkaku, they might be considered as softening on their position on the Spratly and Paracel islands disputes in the South China Sea. We also should not forget that because the Senkaku Islands are part of Taiwan, China's sovereignty claim on Senkaku also implies that Taiwan is part of China.
For the Japanese, any softening on the Senkaku might have implications for the more serious territory dispute with Russia over the question of the "Northern Territories". In addition, the islands have become an important nationalist symbol that is used by the right-wing parties to attack the current government. The most critical point is that the right-wing groups can make gestures about the Senkaku Islands at any time and so can cause serious problems for Japan's relations with both China and Taiwan. This is also a concern of the Japanese government.
For Taiwan, the government also wants the issue to die down because Taiwan's trade with Japan is vital to its economy. The absence of diplomatic ties with Japan makes it difficult for Taiwan to lodge protests. If Taiwan uses some economic measures such as sanctions, Taiwan will hurt itself because of the heavy dependence on Japanese products. From an economic perspective, this probably is the key reason that Taiwan wants to abate the dispute.
Dokdo-between Japan and Korea
International disputes are mostly generated by reasons of religion, race or energy resources. The island, Dokdo has been a problem for the two countries declaring sovereignty over them. Japan continuously wants our land Dokdo, after 1996 when the UN allowed a 200 nautical miles EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Their imperialistic level of diplomacy is getting worse. Because Japan is also processing territorial disputes against China, Taiwan, and Russia, reaction to dominium and an elaborate plan is quite different from Korea’s. If Korea possesses Dokdo for a hundred years, it will be Korea’s territory by international law even though it was Japan’s territory. Japan intentionally wants to make Dokdo a disputed territory but we should keep effort to make it longer period of possessory right. Both countries claim the islands because their sailors and fishermen used them as rest stops centuries ago. South Korea has the advantage of controlling the islands now. Seoul has stationed Maritime Police officials on the rocky outcroppings since 1954. Japan has often asserted its rights to the islands and sent its own Self-Defense Forces to patrol the area. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >
The real issue is potential wealth from the sea. Waters surrounding the islands contain rich fishing grounds and possible mineral deposits. For Ulleung Island residents living on fishing, the Dokdo islets are a livelihood in themselves, with some 60 percent of their catch coming from waters around Dokdo. The entire catch of Ulleung Island last year was 4,903 tons (worth W12.9 billion or US$12.9 million), of which 2,900 tons (W7.6 billion) were caught around Dokdo. However, Dokto has tremendous value beyond even the fishing. Some estimate the islets' value at tens and hundreds of trillion won. Not a few analysts say Japan covets them because of their boundless economic value. Some 600 million tons of gas hydrate - natural gas condensed into semisolid form - are believed to be deposited along the broad seabed extending from Dokdo to Guryongpo, North Gyeongsang Province. Gas hydrate is a next-generation energy source that could translate into liquid natural gas if adequate technology is made available. The 600 million tons of liquid natural gas this would produce are 30 times Korea's LNG imports last year. Converted into money, they are worth $150 billion (W150 trillion). Dokdo also has resources of deep ocean water, which is more expensive than oil. Imported from Japan, it is sold at more than W 8,000 (US$8.04) a liter. Located 200 meters under Dokdo, the deep ocean water is rich in nutrients like nitrogen and phosphor but free from microbes as the temperature is low and sunlight does not penetrate. Countries around the world are trying to make food with deep ocean water, and the volume of its market is estimated at W2 trillion a year in Japan. International studies suggest the region is a massive reservoir of methane hydrate, a potential energy resource.
The heart of this disagreement is economic. Both countries want sovereignty over the isles in order to maximize the fishing and mineral rights they can claim. The United States takes no position on the dispute, which is one of several sources of discord between these two important U.S. allies in Northeast Asia. The United States has endeavored to avoid direct involvement. U.S. policymakers seem to judge that American interests in stability, free navigation and good relations with Asian allies and friends are best served by this low-key approach.