Dissent on Japan's Northern Periphery : Nemuro, the Northern Territories and the Limits of Change in a ‘Bureaucrat's Movement’

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-244
Journal / PublicationJapanese Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
Online published1 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


This article sheds light on a relatively unexplored aspect of the Northern Territories dispute by examining the views of residents in Nemuro – the symbolic frontline in Japan's Northern Territories Reversion Movement (NTRM). The NTRM began in this northern periphery as a movement of divergent attitudes but was soon coopted by the Japanese government for political reasons. Local opposition to the government's four island en bloc policy existed in some quarters but was largely kept in check by state largesse. However, as a result of demographic and socioeconomic changes, dissent is slowly emerging in Nemuro. There are signs of an emerging disjuncture between national policy and local aspirations. This disjuncture has both theoretical and policy implications. Theoretically, this paper is congruent with politico-institutional arguments emphasizing the impact of the regulatory regime in shaping civil society organizations. From a policy perspective, public opinion in Nemuro indicates a potential avenue for compromise in Tokyo's negotiating strategy, although pressure for change is unlikely to emerge from the bureaucratized NTRM.