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Current Affairs

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Dokdo & East Sea

Wrapping-up Review of each issue

Q1. Can Dokdo be the subject of territorial dispute between Korea and Japan?

The Republic of Korea exercises its irrefutable territorial sovereignty over Dokdo, legislatively, administratively, and judicially. Korea's territorial rights over Dokdo is indisputable. Accordingly, Dokdo is not a subject of territorial dispute between Korea and Japan.


Q2. What is controversial about Japan's proposal to hand over the Dokdo territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice?

The dispute over Dokdo is a historical problem that arose from Japan's expansionist invasion of Korea, and thus it is not a dispute that can be fought out in court. Historically, Dokdo, together with Ulleungdo, formed Usanguk during the Silla Period. Usanguk was subjugated in the 13th year of King Jujeung's reign. Thereafter, through the Goryeo and Joseon Periods until the current era, Dokdo has consistently been Korea's territory and under Korea's management. Therefore, the proper solution to the Dokdo dispute is for Japan to reconsider its history of past aggression and to cease its assertions of territorial rights over Dokdo that rest on Japan's history of Korean invasion.


Q3. Based on Shimane Prefecture Notification No. 40, Japan asserts that it lawfully incorporated Dokdo in compliance with international laws. What is problematic about this assertion?

The incorporation of a territory can only involve territories for which no owners exist. However, Korea's possession of Dokdo had already been proven by An Yong-bok's activities at the end of the 17th century and by the 1870 Japanese diplomatic document entitled "A Confidential Inquiry into the Particular of Korea's Relations." In addition, an 1877 order by the Daijokan, the Great Council of State in Japan, clearly confirms that Dokdo is not a part of Japanese territory. Furthermore, a 1900 Royal Order No. 41 by Gojong of Korea allowed the Ulleungdo magistrate to govern Dokdo. Japan's assertions that Shimane Prefecture incorporated Dokdo, an indisputable Korean territory, are a clear violation of international laws.


Q4. What is the relevance of the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations in the context of Dokdo's restoration to Korea?

Since the Potsdam Declaration (1945) is merely a joint declaration by the four Allied Powers, it is not legally binding. However, the Potsdam Declaration outlined the terms of surrender for Japan and the restoration of Japan's occupied territories after the war, which Japan agreed to implement in the Cairo Declaration (1943). The Potsdam Declaration was thus a provision for Korea's independence and the return of Manchuria and Taiwan to China.

The Potsdam Declaration, containing a clause stipulating Japan's return of all territories acquired by violence and force, was accepted in full through Japan's declaration in the Cairo Declaration. Accordingly, Japan was required to return Dokdo, which Japan had acquired through violence and force. The Declaration explains that since Dokdo was plundered in February 1905 due to Japanese violence and greed, Dokdo must be excluded from Japanese territory and restored as a territory of Korea.

Q5. What is the relevance of No. 677 and No.1033 of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Instruction (SCAPIN) to territorial rights over Dokdo?

After Japan's defeat in August 1945, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers began the restoration and investigation of territories expropriated due to Japan's violence and greed. On January 29, 1946, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, through SCAPIN No. 677, confirmed Dokdo, Ulleungdo, and Jejudo as territories of Korea. On June 22 of the same year, under SCAPIN No. 1033, Clause 3, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers ordered that authorized areas for Japanese fishing and whaling could not come within a 12 nautical mile radius of Dokdo.


Q6. Explain Article 2 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed in San Francisco.

After World War II, the Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed in San Francisco in September 1951 to form a resolution on the defeated nations. Article 2 of the Treaty stipulates that Japan must agree to Korea's independence and forfeit all rights, titles and claims to Korea, including Jejudo, Geomundo and Ulleungdo; Dokdo was omitted. Based on the omission, Japan asserts that the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers recognized Dokdo as Japan's territory. Although Dokdo was initially indicated as a part of Korean territory, Japan had lobbied strenuously to include Dokdo as Japanese territory. As a result, Dokdo was omitted from the final draft of the Treaty. However, before the Treaty's conclusion, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers had published SCAPIN No. 677, which clearly excludes Korean territories including Jejudo, Ulleungdo and Dokdo from Japanese political and administrative rule in the postwar period. These measures were an affirmation, by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, of the terms requiring Japan to restore land captured by violence and force, as already set forth in agreements such as the Cairo Declaration. Moreover, the San Francisco Peace Treaty fully evokes Japan to bear responsibility for the war and its illegal colonial rule. It is thus erroneous for Japan to cite the Treaty to assert its rights over Dokdo, which it had expropriated from Korea during colonization.

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