Territorial problems between countries are sources of permanent tension and conflict. In the past, wars and military victories were considered the main tools for solving such problems. Although the probability of applying such tools these days has essentially decreased, we still hear about military drills and other actions related to territorial disputes, which have little chance of being resolved satisfactorily after they’ve continued for many years.
A recent joint statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations calling for the creation of rules to peacefully resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea could decrease the chance of military incidents, but does not provide a real solution.
Strategic, political, economic and other factors supported by a culture of embedded distrust are behind the territorial problems. On both sides of the dispute, this culture is often used by political opponents, nationalists and extremists to block even initial steps toward a conciliatory solution. The time has come to find the right nations and the right places to demonstrate a model breakthrough style for solving such problems.
Our proposed solution is for Japan and Russia with regard to the disputed Northern Territories, or Southern Kurils:
Japan declares the disputed territories a special zone of Japan-Russia collaboration and friendship.
Russia declares the disputed territories a special zone of Russia-Japan collaboration and friendship.
A joint administration for managing the territories is assigned and common rules applicable to the zone are introduced.
This solution could have a great positive effect on Japan-Russia relations while providing a good example for other countries.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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