Yet, Japan was not content with this position and dreamed of regional hegemony. With the end of the war, Japan was stripped of all its overseas holdings, bombed out, and on the verge of political and economic collapse. The country was occupied by British and American units under the American Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. In the last days of the war, the Soviet Union invaded Manchuria, southern Sakhalin, and the entire Kurile chain (Weinstein 6-7). Disputes over Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands remain to this day, and the shift in power from the Soviet Union to a new Russia has not changed that argument. An examination of Japanese defense policy toward the Soviet Union first and Russia currently shows the nature of the dispute and the way Japan has approached these issues.
The Soviet Union held sway for some 70 years before the different regions held together largely by military might disintegrated in 1989, leaving a large portion of what had been the Soviet Union as Russia. No one is certain what will happen with the newly independent Russian states or with Russia itself. Russia could simply disintegrate over the next few years, and this remains a distinct possibility given the degree of change that has to be wrought in the economy to make it strong enough to enter the international marketplace and compete with more fully developed capitalist nations. This does not seem a very likely scenario because the U.S. and c