3. The 1965 Korea-Japan Treaty and Dokdo
Korea-Japan Normalization TreatyKorean President Park Chung-Hee signing the Korea-Japan Normalization Treaty on June 22, 1965
The Korea-Japan Normalization Treaty, including the Treaty of Basic Relations, was signed in June, 1965. In the process of negotiations, Japan insisted that the issue of Dokdo be referred to the International Court of Justice. Iseki Yujirō, the head of the Asia division of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time, remarked during the talks in September, 1962, “Takeshima [Dokdo] has no value. It would make no difference even if we bomb and get rid of it.” This statement indicates that Japanese government officials did not take the issue of Dokdo territorial rights very seriously. In response to the Japanese negotiators’ insistence on raising the issue of Dokdo in November, 1962, their Korean counterparts proposed the idea of mediating the issue through a third country. But this was not an established position by the Korean government. For this reason, the Korean government withdrew the proposal subsequently, to which the Japanese side did not accede, either. Afterward, the Korean government refused to discuss the issue with the position that “Dokdo is Korea’s inherent territory.” In the end, the issue of Dokdo was not mentioned at all in the Treaty of Basic Relations and the Normalization Treaty documents. Although Japan argued that it had agreed with the Korean side to discuss the issue later, there is no documentary evidence backing up the claim. That means that Korea’s de facto territorial rights to Dokdo were established by the Korea-Japan Normalization Treaty.