Stuck Between Two Allies

The United States and the Dokdo/Takeshima Dispute

In: The Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law
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  • 1 Professor, US Naval War College

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The Asia-Pacific region is home to numerous island and maritime disputes but the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute is unique in that it involves two u.s. allies placing Washington in a uncomfortable position. u.s. policy has long been that it takes no position on sovereignty and will abide by any negotiated resolution of the dispute. Yet when tensions have flared between South Korea and Japan over the issue, there have often been calls for the United States to intervene and help solve the problem. However, any u.s. attempt to exert its leverage to reach a solution would be dangerous. Instead, Washington’s best course of action is to quietly remind both sides of their common economic and security interests while helping Seoul and Tokyo to manage the dispute in a careful and judicious manner.