Historical Injustice and Territorial Disputes in East Asia

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room
  • Tetsuya Toyoda

There are four serious island disputes in East Asia: from north to south, the Southern Kurile dispute (Russia vs. Japan), the Liancourt dispute (two Koreas vs. Japan), the Pinnacle dispute (Japan vs. two Chinas) and the Paracel-Spratly dispute (two Chinas vs. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei). All of these territorial disputes involve a perception of historical injustice by one of the parties. Japan's territorial claim against Russia is closely linked to the rancor over the Siberian Deportation (1945-56); Korea's territorial claim against Japan reflects the rancor over Japan's colonization (1910-45); Chinese territorial claims against Japan are rooted in the response to Japan's major invasion of mainland China going back to the Manchurian Incident (1931-45); and Vietnamese passion for the territorial claim against China is linked to the Sino-Vietnamese War (1979-89), among other things.

In this talk, the speaker will argue that the four territorial disputes over relatively unimportant islands in East Asia have persisted for such a long time not because of the contest for natural resources or the inherent importance of those territories but because of perceived historical injustice. If these disputes are to be settled now, the solutions therefore have to be political, taking perceived justice and injustice in consideration

Tetsuya Toyoda, has been teaching international law and constitutional law at Akita International University since 2007. Before that he was a project researcher at the University of Tokyo (2006-2007) and an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994-2000). He graduated from the University of Tokyo (Faculty of Law) and obtained his Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies from the University of Paris II-Panthéon-Assas. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.