First Advisor

Gil Latz

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Geography




Sea-power -- China, Sea-power -- Japan, Sea-power -- East China Sea, Boundary disputes, Geopolitics -- East Asia




China and Japan are engaged in a territorial dispute in the East China Sea. Sovereignty over a tiny islet, and more importantly, access to substantial hydrocarbon resources are the crux of the dispute. This territorial conflict has broad implications for both China and Japan, and involves a number of complex issues. The objective of this paper is to understand the historical, economic and political factors of this situation, as well as to uncover the elements of the solution, which are contained in the problem. A thorough investigation of the literature on the dispute reveals there is significant potential for the situation to greatly improve or drastically deteriorate. Measures taken by the governments of China and Japan often point toward cooperation, however these are frequently dislodged by an inability to compromise. There are concrete ways in which the two nations are cooperating in the East China Sea, however as of now, these have not extended to resolving the territorial dispute. The two nations must find solutions that address their mutual and distinct interests, which can only occur through compromise. Both nations must also take a more conciliatory approach to resolving the dispute for an equitable resolution to be reached.


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A research paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Geography

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