Strategic islands are important because they control vital sea lanes, airspace and resources. They can also be used to project power and influence over neighbouring countries that is why the relationships between the countries can be shaped by the ownership of these islands.
Kuril and Senkaku islands are strategically important because they control access to sea of Okhotsk and the east China sea.
The sea of Okhotsk is the major Fishing ground and it is also believed to contain oil and gas reserves. The east China is a major shipping lane and it is also home to important fishing grounds.
How it decides the country’s relationships?
The ownership of Kuril and Senkaku island is a dispute between Russia and Japan. Russia controls the Kuril Island while Japan controls the Senkaku island. The dispute over these islands has been a source of tension between Russia and Japan for many years.
The ownership of Kuril and Senkaku is also important to the USA. The US has a strong interest in maintain the stability in the Asia- Pacific region. It sees the control of these islands as essential to that goal.
Thus, ownership of these islands is a matter of pride for Russia and Japan.
Here are some specific reasons why strategic islands decides countries relationships:
- control of sea lanes: this gives the country that control the island s strategic advantage, as it can control the movement of ships and aircrafts in the area.
For example, the Spratly islands are group of islands in the south China sea that are claimed by the China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia etc. these islands are strategically important because they control access to important shipping lanes and fishing grounds.
- Projection of power and influence: strategic islands can be used to project power and influence over neighbouring countries. This is because they can be used to station troops and military operations.
For example, the Korean peninsula is strategically important region because it borders China, Russia and Japan and also home to North Korea which is a nuclear armed country. The US ha a strong interest in maintain peace in the Korean peninsula.
- Access to the resources: the islands can give the countries access to the resources such as oil, gas and fish.
For example, Dokdo islands are a group of islands in the Sea of Japan that are claimed by both South Korea and Japan. The islands are important because of oil and gas resources.
- Historical and cultural significance: they are also important for historical and cultural significance because they may have been inhabited by country’s people for centuries.
For example, the Kuril Islands were part of Japan for centuries before they were taken by Soviet Union in World War II
Thus, in present context strategic islands are even more important than even before. This is because world is becoming increasingly interconnected and the control of islands can give a country significant advantage in terms of trade, security and influence.