Product, symbol, and possible catalyst for change in the affairs of the three countries are the Kurile Islands - or "Northern Territories," as the southern four islands are referred to in Japan. The dialogue on sovereignty over these islands is between the Soviet Union and Japan, but any change will dramatically alter the military strategic picture for the United States as well.
Takahashi, Rex M.
"The Kuriles: Passage or Obstruction to Regional Peace?,"
Naval War College Review: Vol. 44
, Article 8.
Available at: http://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/nwc-review/vol44/iss4/8