International Law and Justice in Island Disputes in East Asia

Event date: 
30 Mar 2015
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Staff common room, level 2, UNSW Law
Island Disputes in East Asia
Prof Tetsuya Toyoda
Deputy Director of the Center for East Asia Research at AIU
Any questions? Contact us on 9385 1803.

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 invasion of 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, Professor Toyoda 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 in the near future, the solutions therefore have to be political, taking perceived justice and injustice in consideration.

Tetsuya Toyoda is the deputy director of the Center for East Asia Research at Akita International University (AIU) in Japan. He has been teaching international law and international organisations at AIU since 2007, with an interruption from August 2013 to April 2014 for his fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at Washington, D.C. Before joining AIU, 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 and obtained his Diplôme d'études approfondies from the University of Paris II-Panthéon-Assas. He is a visiting professor at the Far Eastern Federal University in Russia since October 2012, and also has given lectures and talks at Wuhan University (2009), Moscow State University (2011), Seoul National University (2012), UC Berkeley (2013), Georgetown University (2013), Vietnamese National University of Humanities at Hanoi (2013), National University of Laos (2013), Hong Kong Baptist University (2014) and Stanford University (2014).