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History and Territory in Northeast Asia: What Role for the United States?

Tensions over unresolved territorial issues and problems of wartime history in Northeast Asia are again on the rise. Japan and China are locked in an increasingly dangerous face-off over competing claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu island group, marked by street demonstrations in China and mobilizations of maritime forces. The long-standing dispute between Japan and the Republic of Korea over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands has also resurfaced, overlain with problems over how to compensate the so-called "comfort women" from World War Two. Japanese claims to the Northern Territories/Southern Kuriles are back at the forefront of relations between Japan and Russia. In all of these, the United States played a role as the historical author of the post-war San Francisco Treaty system which left these territorial and historical issues unresolved. These tensions, particularly those between U.S. allies, threaten peace and security in the region. Should the U.S. intervene in these disputes? What role does the U.S. have, both in historical terms and in its current policy? A three-part fall Contemporary Asia seminar series will address these questions.