International Humanity

A Blog Started to Record my thoughts on International News events

Shinzo Abe Claiming Right to Disputed Territory

Posted by alexfrancis on February 8, 2007

This is a link to a news article translated from the Mainichi (Daily News) newspaper from Japan. It describes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to gain support for his assertion that four islands to the north of Japan are actually Japanese territory as defined by an 1855 Japan-Russia friendship treaty which gave Japan rights to these northern islands.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

By taking a more assertive approach to military and foreign policy, Abe displays the importance of a leader’s character traits in politics. Although the remote causes for this claim Abe is asserting on territory date back the end of WWII and even the treaty signed in 1855, without a Japanese leader taking action, the islands would simply remain disputed, or more accurately, in Russian possession.

Even with Abes assertion, however, Japan’s lack of military capabilities which are constricted by their consitution and physical separation from the islands themselves, Japan’s actual regaining of these disputed islands depends largely on Abe’s ability to negotiate well with the government of Russia.

As Japan is a democratic state Abe also needs the support of his people to follow through with his nationalist assertions. Thus he is trying to reform school policy to promote nationalism and foster an “accurate” understanding of the situation surrounding the islands. As in the past, the promotion of nationalism is an attempt by the Japanese government to get people to agree and act upon Japan’s foreign policy.

From Russia’s point of view, perhaps it has Japan’s good favor to gain by returning the disputed territories. Even still, from a realist view, Russia should be worried about making itself weaker by giving territory to a state that could become a future enemy. On the other hand, from a liberalist point of view, if Russia were to instead allow Japan to co-possess these islands, rather than take total control over them, perhaps a relationship of reliance upon one another will develop, thus resulting in peace.

Since there is no government telling Russia and Japan how to deal with the disputed territory, this situation is a prime example of how international relations takes place in the state of anarchy.

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