Professor Shin puts a period on the dispute over Dokdo sovereignty
Professor Shin puts a period on the dispute over Dokdo sovereignty
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  • 승인 2008.09.26 18:20
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Today I will discuss under the theme of "To whom does Dokdo belong?" looking at the subject in three ways: historically, legally, and graphically. This is the most universal approach to the issue on the dispute over Dokdo.



Historical Analysis



First, whose territory is Dokdo? Referring to the historical record is the most valid historical approach to testify that Dokdo is a Korean territory.



Records about Dokdo in first appear in Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms). After Usan-do was annexed to Shilla Dynasty, Dokdo and Ulleungdo were regarded firmly as Korean territory since Shilla is one of three kingdoms of . This fact was never disputed before 1910.



According to an official document of Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published in 1667, Oki Island marks the northwestern boundary of and Dokdo and Ulleungdo as belonging to Goryeo, an ancient Korean state. All the ancient historical records say that Dokdo and Ulleungdo are territories of Goryeo.



The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1876, directed each local district to draw maps of their own region. A local Japanese governor in Shimane prefecture sent a letter to an officer at Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs whether to include Dokdo and Ulleungdo as Shimane territory. Since including or excluding a territory cannot be done by a local governor alone, the decision making was transferred to the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.



After the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted a thorough research for about five months, it was concluded that Dokdo and Ulleungdo are territories of Chosun, not . But since the territorial issue is a crucial agenda to a nation, the Ministry asked the Daejungkwan, the then highest government organization in , for a final decision. The highest government body ordered the Ministry to notify all Japanese officials not to include Dokdo and Ulleungdo in the Japanese maps since they are not related to .


The document from Daejungkwan most clearly defines that Dokdo is a territory of Chosun and not . There are about 200 documents which testify that Dokdo belong to and all the materials published before 1904 coherently state that Dokdo is Korean territory. So to whom does Dokdo belong? . With what percent can you argue so? One hundred percent? Actually the certainty exceeds 100 percent because if 100 out of 100 say so then it would be 100 percent but there are not just 100 but 200 documents which show that Dokdo is Korean territory.




Legal Analysis



Then, whose territory is it according to international law?



Historically, all Japanese scholars acknowledged that Dokdo is Korean territory except for some officials at the Japanese foreign ministry. So, no big controversy seems to have existed from a historical perspective. However, contentious issues do exist from an international law perspective. According to Eastern international law, Dokdo is Korean territory. In Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam, a document about geography of published in the Chosun Dynasty, Ulleung-do, Dokdo are clearly noted as Korean territory. But after the Western international law began to be adopted (as Asia began to be influenced by Westerners), the sovereignty of a territory depended on which country notified that the territory was theirs to the international community.



In the year 1900, issued an Imperial Decree No. 41 of October 25, 1900, that separated Uldo archipelago from Uljin county. Ulleungdo, which had been subordinate to Uljin Prefecture since the reign of King Sejong, was to be renamed Uldo and elevated to a county. The county hall shall govern the whole island of Ulleungdo, Jukdo, and Sokdo, which indicates Dokdo. The change in the administrative system was due to Japanese ambition toward possessing Dokdo.


The decree was published in Official Gazette No. 1716 on Oct 27 and distributed to the international community, including Imperial Japan. Japanese government protested once or twice, but since it is historically obvious that Dokdo is Korean territory, it could not pose any determinate resistance to 's action.



In 1904, waged the Russo-Japanese War. established a watch tower on Dokdo and saw that no one was living in the islet. Thus, thought that they did not need permission from the Korean government and incorporated the island by a Cabinet decision in early 1905. The Cabinet reached a decision to incorporate Dokdo that there is no evidence showing that the uninhabited island was ever occupied by a foreign country. After the incorporation, named the island as Takeshima.



Then going back to international law, the law requires two conditions for


occupying a territory: first, the territory should not belong to any other countries (terra nullius), and second, the occupation of the territory should be notified to neighboring countries as soon as the territory is incorporated. Thus, although Japanese Cabinet made a decision to incorporate Dokdo, it should have published such action on its official gazette for international notice. Even if the notice was published on the official gazette, the notice becomes null if other countries raise opposition.


After one month of speculation, decided to notify the incorporation of Dokdo in Shimane prefecture publication in February 5, 1900. However, since the publication is an internal material which is only distributed to official in the prefecture, the publication was not an international notification in the international law. Thus, the Japanese incorporation of Dokdo in 1905 does not satisfy the two conditions. First, was Dokdo in February 28, 1905 uninhabited or inhabited? It was recognized as an inhabited land by Japanese Prime Minister since 1876. Then whose territory is it? 's. Thus, it is an inhabited and owned island.



Second, did notify the international community their decision to incorporate Dokdo? The incorporation was conducted incognito to foreign nations including as the decision had never been announced by the central government to the international community. The fact was just notified among Japanese and did not allow to find out about the decision.



is actually denying that Dokdo is historically a Japanese territory. It is because if Dokdo was originally their land, then they would not have any need to incorporate it as its territory in 1905. This self-evidently testifies the fact that Japanese researchers are lying when they say Dokdo is both historically and legally its territory.



When lost in World War II in 1945, became independent. At the end of the war, the supreme commander ruled that the territories that incorporated after 1894 when triggered the Russo-Japanese war, are invalid since those were incorporated because of Japanese territorial ambitions. This made give back Liaoning Province to , Sahalin to and about 3000 other big and small islands to . All of these decision were marked in the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Instruction #677 (SCAPIN NO. 677).


More specifically, 1946 SCAPIN No. 677 listed Utsryo (Ullung) Island, Quelpart (Cheju Island), and Liancourt Rocks (Take Island). The Liancourt Rocks indicates Dokdo since the allied powers did not know the islet's name. The SCAPIN is the prototype of a decision made justifiable in the face of international law.


Though, the latter part of this instruction states that nothing in this directive shall be construed as an indication of Allied policy relating to the ultimate determination of the minor islands. But still, it is said that if opposes the instruction in the SCAPIN No. 677, then it should do so with the constraint of other SCAPIN documents. Further, the modifying the SCAPIN NO. 677 should be consented by allied powers. And after February 1948, Dokdo was internationally regarded as a territory that belongs to Republic of Korea and full sovereignty of was guaranteed. Thus, then, if takes Dokdo, it is not a usurpation but if or do so, then it becomes illegal.



In 1952, the allied powers decided to allow Japanese independence and concluded a peace treaty with . In the first to fifth drafts of the Treaty of San Francisco between and the Allied powers, the Liancourt Rocks was described as part of Korean territory. However, as the fifth draft was leaked to the Japanese government, a continuous lobby of Japanese was on its way to the . Japanese governemtn said that they would give Liancourt Rocks for to station their air force if the makes the Liancourt Rocks as Japanese territoy.


Thus, considering its national interest, the agreed to this suggestion by the Japanese government. The sixth and seventh drafts, made on December 29, 1949 and August 7, 1950, respectively, ruled that Liancourt Rocks belonged to . But the allied powers did not want to be responsible as the subjects planting the seeds to a dispute over a territory merely because of a country's national interest.


Thus, the allied powers decided to get rid of the name Dokdo (Liancourt Rocks) in the seventh, eighth, and ninth draft. So in the 1951 Treaty of Peace with (San Francisco Treaty), Dokdo is not listed as an islet to be given back to . The Article 2 (a) of the San Francisco Treaty states that "Japan recognizing the independence of , renounces all right, title and claim to including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet." With this provision, Japanese government says, “Look at the San Francisco Treaty. Jeju-do, Geomun-do and Ulleung-do are listed and there is no mention for Dokdo. This shows that the allied powers recognized that Dokdo as Japanese territory.”


As a rebuttal, Korean government, absorbing opinions from international law scholars, say that in this case, if an island is very small, the owner of a mother island is the owner of the annexed island. Are Ulleung-do and Dokdo independent islands or Dokdo an annexed island of Ulleung-do? Scholars of all countries in the world say that Dokdo is an annexed island for Dokdo. Korean government further retorts that if the name of Udo that belongs to Jeju-do is not listed in the peace treaty, then does that mean that Udo is Japanese territory? Since the owner of Jeju-do is , the owner for Udo is . In the same line, Dokdo, which is the annexed to Ulleungdo is owned by the owner of Ulleungdo which is . Majority of Japanese scholars agree but the Japanese government does not.



After the San Francisco Treaty, Japanese government admitted that it lobbied to change the possession for Dokdo from Chosun to . In the first page of Peace Treaty with , a book which has up to 600 pages, there is a map describing Dokdo to be outside the territorial sea of Japan.



searched for the method which will firmly guarantee that Dokdo belongs to . So it studied international law in order to it can allege Dokdo as indisputable Japanese territory. But looking back to the SCAPIN NO. 677, found that Dokdo was 100 percent pinpointed as Korean territory and prohibits Japanese from approaching to it.



The Central Intelligence Agency of the first noted Liancourt Rocks as Dokdo, accepting 's request, and noted the owner of the island as Republic of Korea. However, in 1970, the name Dokdo disappeared. In , it is called Dokdo, and in , it is called Takeshima. Recently, in July 24, CIA homepage stated "undesignated sovereignty" for indicating the possession of the island. As there was a complaint from , the changed the notation back to the origin -- noting that Dokdo belongs to . The notation of "undesignated sovereignty" was because of the lobbying from the Japanese government. If there was no opposition from , would have tried to maintain such notation and make it a factual one. Nevertheless, historically, and legally, Dokdo is Korean territory.



Then, geographically, whose territory is Dokdo? Is it an annexed to Ulleungdo or is it annexed Oki Island? Scholars worldwide concluded that Dokdo is an annex island of Ulleungdo.


In sum, either according to history, international law, or geography, it comes to the conclusion that Dokdo is obviously a Korean territory. I think I have to end the lecture here, since the time has passed a lot.


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