Alright! Let's start some catch-up on the topic from the last blog that we left incomplete. We have talked about the earliest Japanese attempt in acquistion of Dokdo Island, how their attitudes have changed, and what motivated the change. Now we will be talking about how this small territorial conflict from early 1900s happened to continue until today without a clear resolution but a constant dispute.
As we are aware now, the Russo-Japanese War initiated the public awareness of Dokdo, because many of the naval battles between the Russian and Japanese fleets took place in the area of Ullungdo and Dokdo. Now that the importance of island was evident, Japanese Government has encouraged Japanese civilians to live in this area Nakai Yozaburo, Japanese imperialist, approached the Japanese Government to secure exclusive rights to Dokdo for the complete acquisition of the islands. With this, I think it's safe to conclude that Japanese incorporation of Dokdo into SHimane Prefecture was a result of Japan's imperialist aggression in the early 1990s.
Now let me remind you that Korea has gained her independence from Japan in August 15 of 1945. However, the conflict on Dokdo has never ceased. Even today, the Foreign Ministry of Japan clings to his belief that the territories it acquired in the period of 1894-1910 were "internationally recognized", and therefore were acquired validly. It is bizzard that Japan would still continue to hold onto a claim of territorial sovereignty that was enacted at a time when Japan was engaged in imperial expansion, after more than 5 decades since Korea has been granted independence. Why does Japanese continue with this nonsense? Why does it enrage Korean people? Why is it still a source of conflict? Now let me elaborate my theories.
Why is Japanese Claim for Dokdo Unjustified?
The Cairo Conference of 1943 announced that "Japan will be expelled from all territories which she has taken by violence and greed since the time of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95" Japan´s annexation of Dokdo in 1905 and all other Korean territories by 1910 definitely fall into the definition of territories taken by greed, as clarified by the Cairo Declaration. Do you see the irony here? If Japan believes that its methods in acquiring Dokdo in 1905 were legitimate, as she claims now, then Japan must also believe that it can still, by the same logic, claim sovereignty over the rest of the Korean Peninsula, alas! (Reference: http://www.kncolorado.com/bbs/board.php?bo_table=korea_town_news&wr_id=49)
Why are Koreans enraged by this conflict?
It's fairly understandable that Koreans are enraged by the territorial conflict, which has been dragged on for 50 years when it should have ended with Korean independence. To them, Dokdo conflict is a trigger that brings sad memories back from Japanese colonial period; something that they hate Japan for.
What actions have Korea and Japan taken?
In the 1950's, South Korean President, Yi Seung-man, took active measures to stake its claim; he sent a research vessel to Dokdo. Even though the result was just the aforementioned bombing incident, it helped capturing the public's attention on the dispute in Korea and Japan for the first time. The tension of the conflict over Dokdo increased significantly in 1953-1954, as President. Yi has established the "Peace Line," in which South Korea placed a territorial boundary line that extended out into the East Sea/Sea of Japan to include Dokdo. Over these years, Japanese patrol vessels frequently approached within close distance of the island and tried to, and often actually landed on the island, provoking reactions from the Korean volunteer coast guards.
There was one significant incident that followed soon after. On June 27, 1953 Tomizo Sawa led the crews of two Japanese coast guard vessels to drive six of the Korean coast guards from their base on the East Islet to the West Islet. Then they landed on the island, and erected a Japanese territorial marker on the shore. At the time, this action seemed to have only a trivial effect in Korea because the early government was too busy trying to end the Korean War. However, it was not forgotten. President Yi sent a letter to North Kyongsang Province police chief Kim Jong-won, promising him the support of weaponry such as bombs to scare off the Japanese. Then the chief has over-interpreted the order and fired Japanese ships arriving at Dokdo on July 12, 1953, sinking one boat and causing 16 casualties and deaths. Japanese response to South Korea's military aggression is highly noteworthy; Japanese Foreign Ministry angrily denounced the Korean "illegal actions" in a letter to Seoul on November 30th, demanding an official apology from the South Korea and the removal of the Korea's voluntary coast guard. But, being strong as they always have been, the Koreans never gave in.
Then, Japanese right-wing groups hoped to send the armed reaction force in an effort to "free Takeshima" from the Koreans. Despite of the failure of such wish, this only enlarged the hatred of both sides andundoubtedly slowed down rapprochement. In 1954, Koreans built a concrete lighthouse and building, and a helicopter landing pad on the East Islet. Ever since, the islands have been under the protection of Korean maritime guards.
How did you enjoy the post today? Did you feel the intensity and tension? As the post is getting longer than I expected, I'll divide it and do a follow-up post(which is hopefully, final) on the actions taken from 1960s to today. If there's any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to post them!