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  • Peace in Northeast Asia: Resolving Japan's Territorial and Maritime Disputes with China, Korea and the Russian Federation
  • Kimie Hara (bio)
Peace in Northeast Asia: Resolving Japan’s Territorial and Maritime Disputes with China, Korea and the Russian Federation. Edited by Thomas J. Schoenbaum. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2008. viii, 138 pages. $85.00, cloth and E-book.

Peace in Northeast Asia is a collection of essays on Japan’s territorial and maritime border disputes with its neighboring countries in Northeast Asia. These include disputes over the territorial sovereignty of the Northern Territories/ Southern Kuriles, Takeshima/Dokdo, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands with Russia, Korea, and China, respectively, and the maritime delimitation disputes in the surrounding waters. The volume also includes Okinotori Island (Okinotorishima), for which Japan claims its 200–nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as a separate dispute with China. [End Page 167] These are all significant problems for Japan and its neighboring countries, with important political, economic, and security implications for their bilateral relations and for regional international relations as a whole.

Many studies have already examined and considered solutions for these long-unresolved border disputes from various angles. Yet, facing the reality that there has been no resolution to these disputes, any new study that reexamines them and presents possible settlement ideas is welcome. Peace in Northeast Asia is one such attempt.

The purpose of the volume, according to the introduction by the editor, Thomas J. Schoenbaum, is “to set out the history and basis of all three disputes and to suggest concrete ways they may be resolved” (p. 2). It also aims “to demonstrate how international law and international institutions can provide the basis for peaceful and harmonious settlement of sometimes dangerous international disputes” (p. 2). The volume consists of eight chapters: two are informative essays contributed by Reinhard Drifte and Michael Hahn, and the rest are written by the volume editor himself.

In chapter 2, “The Politics of the East China Sea Gas Dispute: Ongoing Discussion between China and Japan,” Drifte explains the economic stakes of the two countries and traces development of their bilateral negotiations since 1968 to reach agreement about joint development of the energy sources in the East China Sea. In chapter 4, “Options for Dispute Settlement,” Hahn, on the other hand, introduces procedural avenues available under international law, particularly the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to settle the disputes, including bilateral negotiations between the disputant countries, third-party mediation, and international arbitration such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The rest of the volume (by Schoenbaum) provides historical background for these territorial and maritime disputes, discusses them in terms of international law, evaluates the positions of each disputant, and proposes settlement ideas for each dispute, in line with the purpose of the volume.

The book’s “key recommendation,” according to Schoenbaum, is “to propose that the three disputes in question be resolved through the conclusion of three separate negotiated agreements between Japan and each of its neighbors, whereby three separate Zones of Cooperation and Environmental Protection will be established in Northeast Asia” (p. 5). Schoenbaum’s legal analysis supports Japan’s position in the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute (p. 45) as well as its claim for all four islands of the Northern Territories (p. 59), but not for Takeshima/Dokdo, which, he concludes, belongs to Korea (p. 54). His specific proposals for resolving these disputes do not necessarily correspond to his legal analysis. He proposes Chinese recognition of Japanese sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (p. 101) and Japanese recognition [End Page 168] of Korean sovereignty over the Takeshima/Dokdo Islands (p. 115). However, for the Northern Territories, he proposes Japanese renunciation of its claim for the two large islands of Kunashiri and Etorofu, thus limiting its territorial recovery from Russia to Shikotan Island and the Habomais (p. 126).

For the maritime boundary delimitations, he recommends that the Japan-China boundary should be drawn approximately halfway between the equidistance line (Japan’s position) and the Okinawa Trough (China’s position), which would give China “the largest share of the seabed of the East...


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