Washington International Law Journal


Tsuneo Akaha


This article traces the postwar experiences of Japan, the most important fishing nation of the Japan Sea region, in establishing and expanding fishery relations with the Soviet Union/Russia, South Korea, and North Korea. The gradual shift from conflict to cooperation in the exploitation and management of fishery resources shows that pragmatic cooperation among the countries involved has been made possible by their willingness to accommodate mutual economic interests on an increasingly reciprocal basis. International law, particularly the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the legal norms and principles it embodies have aided the parties in arriving at mutually acceptable arrangements. These cooperative regimes, however, have often undercut the requirements of resource conservation and management, driven as they are by the short-term economic interests of the fishing and coastal states. This tendency is particularly alarming in light of the mounting economic crisis in the post-communist Russia: Russia is increasingly seeking immediate financial gain by zealously selling access to its coastal resources to equally eager foreign fishing interests. The article recommends multilateral cooperation in the conservation-oriented management of the fishery resources of the Sea of Japan.

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