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  • Riben de guojing wenti: Diaoyutai, dudao, beifang sidao (The Territorial Issues of Japan: The Senkaku/Diaoyu Island, Take/Dok Island, and the Northern Territories) by Magosaki Ukeru
  • Sidney Xu Lu
Riben de guojing wenti: Diaoyutai, dudao, beifang sidao (The Territorial Issues of Japan The Senkaku/Diaoyu Island, Take/Dok Island, and the Northern Territories), by Magosaki Ukeru, translated from the Japanese by Dai Dongyang. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2014. 211pp. US$20 (Paperback). ISBN 9789629965792.

“Territory is a monster. Once awakened, it will fan the fires of nationalism to erupt in flames.” In this manner Magosaki Ukeru, former director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Analysis in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and professor emeritus of the National Defense Academy of Japan, begins his book on Japan’s territorial disputes. A prolific writer and commentator on contemporary Japanese diplomacy, Magosaki has been a long-term critic of postwar American policy toward Japan and a passionate advocate of Japan’s independence from the U.S.- Japan military alliance. The Territorial Issues of Japan: The Senkaku/ Diaoyu Island, Take/Dok Island, and the Northern Territories is one of his most recent monographs. From an insider’s perspective on Japanese diplomacy, he reminds Japanese readers that instead of the temporary possession of a certain territory, the ultimate goal of diplomacy is to create a peaceful environment for national prosperity. In order to maximize Japan’s national interests for the long term, Japan needs to adopt realistic diplomatic policies, putting aside its current territorial disputes with its neighbors, avoiding potential military conflicts, and improving its relations with its neighbors based on principles of coexistence and mutual trust.

The book includes an introduction and six chapters. The introduction outlines Japan’s current diplomatic disputes with China, Korea, and Russia over the sovereignty of Senkaku/Diaoyu Island, Take/Dok Island, and the Northern Territories respectively. Challenging the validity of a series of Japan’s territorial claims that the domestic public has taken for granted, Magosaki urges his readers to re-think these disputes by considering alternative perspectives.

Chapter 1 analyzes the Sino-Russian conflict over Zhenbao Island in 1969 and the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s as two important lessons for Japanese diplomacy with respect to territorial disputes. These episodes, Magosaki points out, demonstrate that in order to solve an international territorial dispute, it is crucial to reach a temporary agreement, as it is almost impossible to achieve a permanent agreement in the short term. [End Page 276] If two sides cannot reach a temporary agreement, the avoidance of military conflict through a reconciliation of differences should be the top priority of negotiations.

Chapter 2 is an account of Sino-Japanese interactions regarding the sovereignty of Diaoyu Island since the end of World War II. Based on an examination of the evolving diplomatic strategies of both sides, Magosaki concludes that the recent intensification of the territorial dispute is due to the Japanese government’s failure in 2010 to uphold its unspoken promise to put aside the dispute, established between the two nations decades ago.

Chapter 3 examines the history of the Russo-Japanese dispute regarding the Northern Territories (the Kuril Islands). Magosaki considers the currently unsolvable dispute to be the result of an American conspiracy to sustain antagonism between Japan and Russia. As a corollary to this argument, he reminds his readers that Japan cannot count on the United States as a loyal ally.

In Chapters 4 and 5, he further urges his domestic audience to give up the illusion that the United States will support Japan with a military intervention if war breaks out between Japan and its neighbors. For Magosaki, the United States is not a loyal ally of Japan but rather a selfish trouble-maker. As a small nation, Japan does not have many diplomatic options in this big nation-dominated world. Outside assistance upon which Japanese leaders think the nation can reply, such as American military intervention and favorable arbitration by the United Nations, may not materialize or help if it becomes engaged in a war with China or Russia. Therefore, Japan must adopt a pragmatic diplomacy.

Diplomatic realism, Magosaki continues, is a recognition that the...


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