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Japan recalls ambassador to Russia over Medvedev trip to disputed islands

Disputed Islands between Russia and Japan

The latest news in Japan is Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara recalling ambassador to Russia over Russian President Medvedev’s recent trip to some disputed island between the two countries.

The disputed islands are near the most northern tip of Japan. (Coverages from: Japan Times, China Daily, and Russia Today.)

Map to the left with the ‘A’ flag is one of the islands under dispute. In some ways this is similar to the dispute between China and Japan over Diaoyutai/Senkaku. Perhaps an all-or-nothing approach to ownership is too much of a out dated thinking.

In terms of news coverage, the thing that really struck me is how different Japan, Russia, and China reports than from how the U.S./U.K. media reports. In the case of the latter, they will put so much more spin or propaganda into the news. I am beginning to wonder if I should boycott U.S./U.K. media altogether.

  1. colin
    November 2nd, 2010 at 13:34 | #1

    “I am beginning to wonder if I should boycott U.S./U.K. media altogether.”

    Funny you should say so. I used to be an avid reader of the NYTimes, and had it as one of my top bookmarks before I realized how biased it really was, especially towards the PRC and other entities that are in vogue for bashing in the western media. I basically took off the bookmark and actively to go the NYTimes site because I just can’t stand the overt and covert lies they spew.

  2. colin
    November 2nd, 2010 at 13:38 | #2

    To followup, thank goodness for blogs and the internet. I would consider myself hopelessly brainwashed if the only source of news and analysis were from the mainstream players like NYT, WSJ, businessweek, nbc/abc/cbs, etc. In this day and age, all they are is to serve as mouthpieces for the government and corporate oligarchs.

  3. November 2nd, 2010 at 15:38 | #3

    I actually routinely go to economist.com, nytimes.com, wsj.com, forbes.com, etc. Of all the major U.S. news outlets (I know economist is not American), wsj seems least political – although you wouldn’t know in the last few months.

    I don’t think boycotting helps. I like to “triangulate” my news – that means reading widely and broadly.

    Does anyone know if NYT makes money off of my visiting if I never buy their magazine and read only their online stories?

    About boycotts, I’ve actually boycotted donating to my local public radio and t.v. since 2008. I had been a consistent donor for 10 or so years, but since watching too many biased reports against China in the leadup to the Olympics, I pulled the plug and have not donated (and still do not fathom to donate) anytime soon – even though I still think that in many other areas, they do produce quality programming.

  4. colin
    November 2nd, 2010 at 17:01 | #4

    in post #1, I meant … actively REFUSE to go to the NYTIMES site…

    Yes, sometimes I will read an article or two from there just to see how horribly they are spinning an issue.

  5. r v
    November 2nd, 2010 at 18:18 | #5


    They get money from your visit any ways. Your traffic gets them advertising money.

  6. r v
    November 2nd, 2010 at 18:20 | #6

    Relating to my previous comments on Japan/China disputes,

    See, Japan has plenty of disputes with other nations, and Russia is playing it smart.

    Russia waited until Japan’s fuss with China, and then steps in for a piece of the action.

    I wager, South Korea might wade into this now as well, over their disputed territory with Japan.

  7. November 3rd, 2010 at 07:33 | #7

    I got chance to briefly chat with another Japanese colleague. His view of the dispute (with China and Russia) is primarily about access to the Pacific Ocean.

    We both agreed, in the grander scheme of things, these disputes will eventually settle. The relationships between the countries continue to expand.

    Actually, another friend of mine feel equally the same. So, in a tiny way, I feel encouraged people have have the bigger picture in mind.

    Regarding the Western media, this was another reminder I should continue to get my dosage of international news from around the globe.

    Honestly, being in Japan this past 2 weeks has actually brought some calmness in my daily diet of news around the world. I mean, simply, I’ve been consuming less U.S./U.K. media and more Japanese media.

  8. Karl
    November 8th, 2010 at 00:30 | #8

    Two questions:

    1) Does anyone have any preferred reading lists for relatively balanced reporting of news? I have a long list of blogs and various news services in my reader. Staying across these best equates to the “triangulation” approach outlined by Allen above, I suppose. I am interested if someone has something relatively unbiased in their list that they could recommend.

    2) yinyang, you include the (throwaway?) comment in your post that “Perhaps an all-or-nothing approach to ownership is too much of a out dated thinking.” There are many, many examples where a system of Westphalian Sovreignty has resulted in national boundaries that are easily disputed. In Asia we have examples with Japan, China, South Korea, Russia, India, Pakistan, and others. In Europe, greater administrative interdependence and ease of movement may have suppressed such disputes. But on a recent trip to Poland, it was brought home to me how it was possible to argue for an infinite number of permutations of state borders based on ethnic, historical, political and religious considerations. There are cities that have been at one time or another part of a German, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Hungarian or even (going back far enough), Mongolian “nation”. The current border demarcations are just a result of the latest war or agreement. And, from this point of view, as long as it is an “all or nothing” approach, then the state that perceives it has greater power might always be tempted to throw its weight around for the purposes of strategic gain.

    Is anyone aware of any robust discussion about the diminution of the state in favour of a more fragmented and open territorial arrangement? Obviously such arrangements erode the power of states in therms of their ability to tax and exert control. Has there been a successful application of shared sovereignty arrangement over a disputed region? How have these agreements been worded?

  9. November 8th, 2010 at 06:31 | #9


    “triangulation” takes dedication and extra effort. But nowadays, especially for Americans, I think their view of the world is so warped due to the way the U.S. media spins and propagandizes. China Daily, Japan Times – obviously “pro” their respective countries, but in my view definitely more nuanced and objective.

    We have a section on the right in the blog under the “Perspectives from around the world.” That’s an attempt in listing the mainstream views from some major places around the world – in English.

    Regarding the Westphalian concept of “state” – I think that’s indeed a recent development. It didn’t work this way for much of the world.

    You should look up “suzerainty” and “tributary states.” I don’t understand them well enough to argue if any form is better. My point is that people should keep their minds open and not be stuck in a all or nothing mode – that’s the media’s preference, because it is easier to polarize the population.

    In general, it’s been might makes right. How fair the world order is hugely depends on the mightiest hegemon.

    Japan is very crowded and the population is fairly large for the landmass it occupies. I’d bet a higher priority for them is the natural resources – fishery and potentially energy.

    China’s highest priority may be access to the Pacific Ocean. Russia likely that too. Japan’s dispute with Korea may be tougher to resolve.

    BUT, Korea and Japan are supposedly in beds due to the U.S. military alliance (or occupation if you prefer to look that way). Being “friendly”, they do everything they can to shelf the dispute for the time being.

    Berlin was in a way fragmented. It was a division down the middle. Northern Ireland’s current status within the U.K. in a way is a “solution” towards the territory. The Panama Canal has an interesting arrangement. I am sure there are tons of other examples.

    I see much the same way as you do – greater administrative interdependence and freedom of movement in East Asia could change the nature of the disputes. That’s another reason I like this idea of an East Asian Community or Asian Union like the E.U.. That may provide an outlet for the current impass.

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