3. Dokdo after National Liberation
Examine the instructions set by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) after World War II.
Explain the protective measures taken toward Dokdo after Korea gained independence.
- Critical Thinking
In the process of resolving territorial issues by the Allies near the end of World War II, an agreement was made to expel Japan from territories it had gained through “violence and greed.” Dokdo was included in this region. However, Japan claims that Dokdo is excluded as it was part of Japanese territory prior to 1910. How was Dokdo perceived by the Allies while preparing the Japanese Instrument of Surrender?
Dokdo and World War II
As World War II was drawing to an end, leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China held a conference in Cairo, Egypt (November 22–26, 1943). Korea’s independence was one of the topics discussed during the conference. Signed by the Allies, the Cairo Declaration explicitly stated, “Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed.” A direct reference to Korea stated, “The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.”
Leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China at the Cairo Conference
The Cairo Declaration is cited in Clause 8 of the Potsdam Declaration (July 26, 1945) which stated, "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.” On August 15, 1945, the Empire of Japan accepted the provisions outlined by the Potsdam Declaration and declared unconditional surrender. The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on September 2, 1945.
Japan continues to dispute that Dokdo was not originally Korean territory and that Dokdo was not taken by “violence and greed.” Furthermore, Japan claims that the territories to be ceded after World War II apply to Korean territories at the signing of the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910. However, Dokdo applies to “territories that [Japan] has taken by greed.” Japan must rightfully be “expelled from” territories taken by force in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration it has accepted and signed.
The Supreme Commander for the Allied Power Index Number 677 and 1033
From the end of World War II (September 2, 1945) to the formalization of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (April 28, 1952), Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers.
Dokdo (“TAKE”) as it appears on a map included in SCAPIN 677
On January 29, 1946, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) issued the SCAPIN 677 with provisions for the “Governmental and Administrative Separation of Certain Outlying Areas from Japan.” Through this declaration, Japan was ordered to forfeit executive and political control over colonies and occupied territories in “Certain Outlying Areas from Japan.”
Clause 3 of SCAPIN 677 defined the scope of Japanese domain to be “the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku) and approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands.” This clause explicitly excludes “Utsuryo (Ulleungdo) Island, Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo), and Quelpart (Jeju) Island” from Japanese territory. Dokdo was classified as Korean territory along with Ulleungdo and Jejudo.
On June 22, 1946, SCAPIN 1033 was issued. A provision under Clause 3 explicitly states, “Japanese vessels will not approach closer than twelve (12) miles” to Dokdo.
SCAPIN 677 and SCAPIN 1033 are clear indications of the Allies’ recognition of Korean sovereignty over Dokdo. Dokdo was relegated to the control of the United States military until the formal establishment of the Republic of Korea on August 15, 1948, when it was transferred back to the Korean government.
The Dokdo Bombing Incident
Prior to the establishment of the Republic of Korea, the United States Air Force based in Okinawa, Japan, conducted bombing exercises on Dokdo (June 8, 1948). Ulleungdo fishermen in the area suffered a large number of casualties. At the time, most of the fishermen gathering seaweed around Dokdo were from Ulleungdo and Gangwon-do. The death toll was between 14 and 16 people, and approximately 20 small and large vessels were either sunk or damaged.
The Dokdo Fishermen Memorial
Korean fishermen did not know that the United States-Japan Joint Committee had designated Dokdo as a military training zone. A statement from the United States Far East Air Forces declared this to be an “accidental incident,” and Dokdo area was to be immediately excluded from military training activities.
On July 6, 1951, a second bombing incident occurred after Dokdo was designated as a bombing range through SCAPIN 2160. Around 11 a.m. on September 15, 1952, an exploration team organized by the Korean Alpine Club and about 23 divers and fishermen were killed in a bombing exercise by an American military aircraft in which four bombs were dropped near Dokdo. Another similar incident occurred on September 22. The research group went to Ulleungdo and returned to Dokdo on September 24. Continued bombing exercises prevented the group from going ashore.
To prevent further bombing incidents on Dokdo, the Korean government protested to the United States Embassy. On December 4, 1952, a response from the Embassy stated that Dokdo would no longer be used as a bombing range. And a report from the United Nations Command stated that Dokdo was excluded from further military exercises (January 20, 1953).
A newspaper article about the bombing incident (Gyeonghyang Sinmun, June 16, 1948)
Dokdo and the San Francisco Peace Treaty
After seven years of Allied occupation, Japan and some of the Allied Powers signed the and became incorporated into a new international order. The treaty was drafted in early 1946 under the guidance of the United States and the United Kingdom. More than 20 different revisions were made until the treaty was finalized in August 1951.
Signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951)
The initial draft of the treaty was completed with the cooperation of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and the Soviet Union. However, the United States and the Soviet Union came to gradually oppose each other’s ideologies and China became a communist state, the United States and the United Kingdom intended to utilize Japan as a protective measure against communism in East Asia. During this process, the strict and punitive contents in the treaty became more hospitable toward Japan.
Early drafts from March 19, 1947, to November 2, 1949, regarded Dokdo as Korean territory. Revisions from December 8, 1949, expressed Dokdo to be Japanese territory, and references to Dokdo were completely removed by August 7, 1950.
The final version of the San Francisco Peace Treaty was completed on August 13, 1951. Article 2, Section (a) stated that “Japan should recognize the independence of Korea, and that Japan should renounce all rights, titles and claims to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart (Jejudo), Port Hamilton (Komundo), and Dagelet (Ulleungdo).”
Japan continues to claim Dokdo, stating as evidence that although Japan approved of Korea's independence in accordance with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, it does not explicitly express Dokdo’s provisions under Article 2, Section (a).
South Korea’s argument to this claim is that although Article 2, Section (a) explicitly mentions Jejudo, Geomundo, and Ulleungdo, countless other Korean islands are not mentioned, and the Korean sovereignty of such islands has never been disputed. Thus, if Dokdo is to be considered Japanese territory due to this reason, all Korean islands other than Jejudo, Geomundo, and Ulleungdo must be considered Japanese territory. This is a logical fallacy.
Dokdo and the Peace Line
On January 18, 1952, President Syngman Rhee declared “the sovereignty of the adjacent coast” through State Council Notice No. 14 and devised the Peace Line. The Peace Line established boundaries in the surrounding seas of the South Korean peninsula using the “restriction area” set by Japan in 1929 as a basis. Japan protested the Peace Line after discovering that Dokdo was in the South Korean side of the boundary. The Japanese refer to the Peace Line as the Syngman Rhee Line.
The “declaration of sovereignty over the adjacent coast” published in the official Gazette (1952)
After the end of World War II, the so-called ““ was established around the Korean Peninsula. This maritime border was established as a response to the over-fishing activities of the Japanese fishing industry.
The MacArthur Line was abolished when the San Francisco Peace Treaty went into effect on April 28, 1952. The Peace Line was devised prior to this date in anticipation of overfishing by Japanese fishing vessels near South Korean fisheries. The Peace Line was designed to protect the fish stocks near Dokdo and to exercise sovereignty over Korean territorial waters and its continental shelf. The South Korean government instituted a policy to capture Japanese fishing vessels trespassing beyond the boundary and made clear domestically and internationally the government’s intent to exercise jurisdictional control.
Dokdo and the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea
After the end of World War II, the newly-established Korean government began negotiations with Japan to address issues concerning the return of cultural property, fishing rights, legal status of Korean residents in Japan, and war damage reparations.
Starting with Japan’s protests against the establishment of the Peace Line, sovereignty claims over Dokdo proved to be a major obstacle during the negotiation process. Negotiations between the two countries officially began on October 20, 1951, and lasted more than 14 years, until the signing of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea on June 22, 1965.
During the negotiation process, Japan requested that sovereignty claims over Dokdo should be resolved in the International Court of Justice. However, Korea has resolutely refused this request.
Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement (1965, 1998)
From the establishment of the Peace Line in January 1952 until the signing of the Treaty on Basic Relations in June 1965, 326 Japanese fishing vessels were seized and 3,094 Japanese fishermen detained. Negotiations for the Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement officially began in February 1952 and were finalized and the agreement signed in Tokyo 14 years later on June 22, 1965.
Ⓐ Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement Territorial Waters Map (1965)
Ⓑ New Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement Territorial Waters Map (1998)Source : National Geographic Information Institute
The main topics covered under the Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement include the establishment of the ““ 12 nautical miles from each country’s coastline, and the “joint regulation zone” beyond the EFZ where the applies. Each country would be responsible for the policing of its own vessels in the “joint regulation zone.” The Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement would automatically renew every five years and be abolished one year after the declaration to terminate that agreement.
After the establishment of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1994, the previous definitions for territorial waters and international waters were changed to: territorial waters (12 nautical miles), (24 nautical miles), exclusive economic zone (200 nautical miles), continental shelf (200-350 nautical miles), and international waters (anything outside of the territorial waters is technically considered to be international waters). Due to the UNCLOS, the South Korean peninsula ended up having no international waters. Revisions to the Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement, which established a twelve-nautical mile exclusive fishery zone, were inevitable. On November 28, 1998, both countries signed into action the New Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement.
Regarding the intermediate zone that resulted from both countries declaring their EEZ in 1996, South Korea made its provisional measures prior to EEZ demarcation clear through the New Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement. South Korea was able to place an equivalent area of the EEZ under its jurisdiction due to the New Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement.
- International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is one of the principal instruments of the United Nations. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, it is comprised of 15 judges each with a nine-year term. An agreement between the litigating parties is required to establish the ICJ’s legal jurisdiction.
- Activity 1
Some people correlate sovereignty over Dokdo with its location within the intermediate zone in accordance with the New Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement. Examine the pros and cons of this debate.