The territorial dispute between Japan and Russia over the Northern Territories/Southern Kurils has been an enduring obstacle to closer relations between the two powers. Despite the passage of more than seven decades, within Japan there remains a resilience of belief that the four islands will eventually be returned.
Dr James Brown will offer an account of why Tokyo believes it still has a chance of securing the return of the islands. He will also provide a summary of the Abe administration’s latest efforts to secure this goal, including the Japanese prime minister’s plans to meet with President Putin in Sochi in May. The overall emphasis, however, will be on outlining how this issue is viewed within Russia and explaining why, despite Tokyo’s best efforts, there is no possibility of sovereignty over all four islands being restored to Japan. Japanese decision makers must think deeply about how to balance their principled commitment not to compromise on territorial issues with more pragmatic considerations of energy security and how to contain the rise of Chinese power.
Dr James D.J. Brown is Associate Professor in Political Science at Temple University, Japan Campus.
Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
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