Zdzislaw Śliwa (Baltic Defence College, Tartu, Estonia) “China – Japan Relations in the Shadow of Islands Disputes”


The situation in Asia is currently of interest in the world with the economic development of the continent and the US shifting toward the Asia–Pacific region. However, the security domain of the continent is still fragile and worsened by unsolved bilateral and multilateral territorial disputes. Currently the relations between China and Japan are among real challenges that could negatively influence the whole region. China’s multidimensional development, including military domain, is causing some worries in Japan. At the same time the latest changes in the interpretation of Japanese law, close alliance relations with the US, and the implementation of offensive weapon systems are observed carefully in China. History is playing a significant role regarding the relation between those two regional powers, and that factor is used by both sides. History is also related to the ambitions of both to play not only a regional but also a global role. There are some disputes between those two nations, namely with the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which possesses military, raw resources and prestige importance, and none of the sides wish to give them up. For China it is also related to the security concept development of ‘two island chain’ and ‘anti-access / area denial’.

The paper will focus on the current status of relations between China and Japan and the possible challenges related to those fragile relationships. It will also mention the importance of territorial issues and history, an important factor among the Asian nations in shaping their mind but also used pragmatically for political reasons. In that context the island-related disputes will be analyzed deeper. The military build-up will be discussed and the role of security organizations and treaties will also be covered as an important security factor involving not only both regional actors, as ‘outside powers’ and nations are playing a role. It will allow to provide conclusions and to draw a picture of possible developments between those nations and their influence on Asian security.