On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Tokyo recalled its ambassador to Moscow a day after Russian President Dmitri Medvedev visited Kunashiri island (pictured left), part of the contested Kurile islands chain that were once administered by Japan but were seized by the Soviet Union following WWII. The recent territorial dispute between Russia and Japan comes just weeks after a showdown between China and Japan over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain fishing near the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands (referred to as the Diaoyu islands in China) that sparked a tense diplomatic dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.
According to The New York Times, “Russia refers to the disputed islands as the Southern Kuriles, while Japan calls them the Northern Territories,” which according to the Times are “rich with minerals and fish.”
While I don’t anticipate the dispute between Russia and Japan to reach the level of vitriol we saw with the dispute between China and Japan (see the reporting on the intense protests in Beijing that accompanied the dispute), the incident serves as another reminder that natural resources, including contested territories rich in resources, will increasingly play a role in foreign policy across the globe.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia.org.