The Territory of Japan in Pre-Modern and Modern Times

On 25 January, The Hague Institute, in cooperation with the Japanese Embassy in The Netherlands, hosted a lecture entitled “The Territory of Japan in Pre-Modern and Modern Times” by Professor Masaharu Yanagihara.

Japan transitioned from an isolated feudal society to its current modern form during the Meiji era, between 1868 and 1912. This transformation brought about a shift in the traditional notion of “territory” in Japan, thus making it possible to align itself with the concept of territory as regulated under International Law.

In his presentation, Professor Yanagihara examined the reception of international law in Japan, specifically elaborating on the general theory of territorial titles and the territorial “issues” of Japan, the territory of pre-modern Japan, before the middle of the 19th century, and on the state territory of Modern Japan. Professor Yanagihara also addressed current territorial questions in relation to Japan, including the cases of Takeshima/Dokdo and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

The lecture was followed by a discussion, moderated by Dr. Aaron Matta, Senior Researcher at The Hague Institute.

Masaharu Yanagihara is Professor of Public International Law at the Kyushu University, Japan. He received his PhD (University of Tokyo) in 1981. He was Visiting Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Germany from 2000 to 2001 and at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium in 2002. His fields of interests are History of the Law of Nations in Europe and East Asia, the concept of “territory”, Law of the Sea and Reception of European international law in East Asia. 

Note: The views expressed in the lecture are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Government of Japan, nor of The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

Further Reading

Past Initiative: The Hague Approach

Justice can be a scarce commodity in countries affected by conflicts. The Hague Institute draws lessons from experiences of post-conflict rebuilding activities in Afghanistan…


Rule of Law

The Rule of Law Program fosters accountability and trust in societies in transition by supporting effective formal and informal justice institutions. The overarching goal…