2. Declaration of Maritime Sovereignty by Korean President Rhee Syngman
Korean President Rhee Syngman
The declaration of maritime sovereignty by Korean President Syngman Rhee in January, 1952 and the Peace Line (also called the Syngman Rhee Line) was made by Korea before diplomatic relations between Korea and Japan were restored. Given the situation at the time, it is difficult to consider the declaration illegitimate as the Japanese contended. If the declaration was illegal, it would be impossible to explain why it was retained until the normalization of the bilateral relationship between the two countries in 1965. Although Japan protested, the government in effect acquiesced in the state of affairs until 1965. Korea at the time was neither a United Nations member nation nor a signed member to the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Still, it declared maritime sovereignty and set the Peace Line as an independent nation officially recognized by the United Nations in August, 1948. The Peace Line succeeded the MacArthur Line that was in force into January, 1952, and it was made clear that this line would not interfere with the peaceful sailing of foreign vessels in international waters. The declaration of maritime sovereignty by the Korean government was intended to make clear its territorial rights in waters within the Peace Line while protecting and conserving natural resources in those waters. Given that there were international precedents, such as similar declarations by Latin American nations, the Japanese government’s claim of the declaration’s illegality is difficult to understand.
This was simply an assertion of Korea’s territorial claims on Dokdo, which the Korean government has had since independence and which legally succeeded the MacArthur Line. Any claim otherwise by Japanese is groundless.