It is possible to explore territorial disputes in North East Asia from the perspective of the traditional international law of territory, especially as it applies to islands. This “law” is expounded regularly by the International Court of Justice and a few arbitrations. Then one could go on to join in the long standing factual, historical controversies about which, of the various countries, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Russia, Taiwan or the People’s Republic of China, have the best title, in terms of the effective occupation and exercise of state sovereignty in relation to a whole series of largely uninhabited and uninhabitable islands. In addition there is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which adds codified rules on the legal significance of the ownership of islands and uninhabitable rocks in international law. Can such entities claim territorial seas, exclusive economic zones or continental shelves etc?