Dokdo Island, or Takeshima, has been a long standing territorial dispute between Korea and Japan. The division of Korea did not let this island slip off the priority list of the koreans, but instead puts two Korean governments laying territorial claim to the island. However, North Korea’s claim is weak in comparison to South Korea’s claim, because North Korea has taken limited action on this topic (Cummings). For the purposes of this paper, the focus of the Dokdo-Takeshima Island dispute will focus on the dispute between South Korea and Japan.
The arousal of this issue to public awareness again is due to the Free-Trade Agreement talks occurring between Japan, South Korea and China (Kyodo). This Free-Trade Agreement would benefit the three nations, making them one of the world’s largest market (South). In order for this to occur the territorial despite of Dokdo-Takeshima needs to be settled. The Dokdo-Takeshima territorial dispute officially began in 1952 with the San Francisco Peace Treaty (Profile). However the dispute is rooted deep with in history some argument going back to the sixth century (Dokdo).
Some view the dispute of the island as the residue of grievance between South Korea and Japan from Japan colonization (Profile). The geographical location of the island is central to the dispute as it is close to both nations. The resources that the nation would gain from the island ties into the economical issues of the dispute. The waters surrounding the island supply the fishing industries of both nations and makes the issue an economic one. Those waters also offer military defense positions and makes the issue even more political. The culture of both the South Koreans and the Japanese make surrendering the island a symbol of shame.
The territorial dispute of Dokdo-Takeshima is relevant today to the free trade agreement that could exist between Japan, China and South Korea; the best solution politically and economically is for Japan to surrender its claim and for South Korea to allow fishing rights to the Japanese fisheries. Historical and Cultural Relevance: Korea claims Dokdo first appeared in Korean history in the sixth-century. A professor of Seoul National University, Shin Yong-ha asserted that Dokdo was in the Three Kingdoms period record when the tribal state of U-san was suppressed.
This brought the Dokdo Island and Ul-reung Island into Korean territory and is shown in the document, “The History of Three Kingdoms” that is recognized as the oldest official record in Korean history (Dokdo). Japan refutes this assumption in stating that Takeshima was not part of the state of U-san, because there is a lack of direct notation to indicate Takeshima in this document. Japan also asserts that there is an omission of Takeshima in the antique Korean map “The Map of the Great Eastern State” (The Issue).
Korea rebuttals with stating that the Japanese government drew their maps in January 1699 with Dokdo as Korean Territory. Reflecting an agreement evident in a diplomatic document the Japanese government gave the Korean government rechecking Dokdo as Korean territory in January of 1696 (Dokdo). Japan then claims that in 1876, Korean and Japanese fisherman came across one another in the waters surrounding Takeshima. The result of the interaction brought the governments of Japan and Korea made a treaty called “The Japanese Fishermen Treatment Rules.
At that time, Japanese fisherman who lived in Shinema made their work in the waters of Takeshima and do to this day. In 1905, the Japanese Meiji government included Takeshima as to be defined as one of the satellite islands of Shinema (The Issue). At this time Korea did not have the right of diplomacy, because of the Treaty of Protectorate which was concluded by force of Japan (Dokdo). During World War II Japan had taken control of many territories that were stripped away in the surrender to the Allied Powers by the Cairo Declaration in 1943.
Japan asserts that Takeshima was not apart of the lands it won by force and needed to surrender, because it was their territory dating back to 1876 (The Issue). In response, Korea declared the sovereignty of Dokdo unilaterally before Japan regained sovereignty in January 1952 after coalition forces produced a document in San Francisco in 1950 that stated that Dokdo was a Korean Island. Korea also points out that Japanese maps have not included Dokdo since 1969 (Dokdo). Japan invited Korea to have a solution from International Court Justice in 1954, but Korea rejected it.
So Japan planned a way through an invitation of the U. N. Security Council. However as both countries are not members it is not possible to solve the problem in this way. But the U. S. A doesn’t like Japan’s plan and suggested solving the problem through the direct negotiation of the countries involved. Therefore only ‘serious international disputation or worse disputation’ can be a topic of U. N. Security Council. So it depends on the intention of Japan as to whether it should be a topic for U. N. Japan is working for support from other nations. Korea is also preparing for it.
Korea can insist that this incident happened while Korea was a colony of Japan. Then it will help Korea make a basic logic to solve this problem (Lee). Geographical Relevance: The Dokdo-Takeshima Island is 87. 4 km from Korea’s Ulleung Island and can be visible from Ulleung on a clear day. Near the island cold and warm currents meet, which provides a vast array of resources. This has earned the nickname for Dokdo-Takeshima to be called the Korean Galapagos. Experts have confirmed that there is a large supply of natural gas and it is suspected that petroleum could possibly hidden underground.
The waters surrounding the island are unpolluted and therefore well supplied for fishing purposes (Dokdo). Political Relevance: The claim laid to Dokdo-Takeshima Island by both South Korea and Japan have been on the international world stage for the past sixty years. As the issue was present in the Cairo Peace Treaty, the San Francisco Treaty, brought before the UN and has been presented to the UN Security Council (Dokdo). International law doesn’t solve the problem, but does require the two countries to use a peaceful means to find a solution.
Article Number 4 of a treaty about the basic relationship between Korea and Japan declares the guide. In this guide, this subject is associated with Article Number 2 of the Charter of the United Nations. According to it, both countries have a duty to respect the boundary of the other country and they can’t threaten each other. But it doesn’t provide any specific methods as to how they can resolve concerns. The waters surrounding Dokdo-Takeshima island provide a nautical military advantage for both countries and therefore a stalemate is the stance between South Korea and Japan (Lee).
Economical Relevance: The waters surrounding Dokdo-Takeshima Island provide the perfect fishing ground for fishers. They have been jointly controlled fishing zones for centuries as the economies of both South Korea and Japan depend on this fishing supply coming in. It was accounted that sixty percent of the whole squid-haul of Korea came from the waters surrounding Dokdo (Dokdo). The city of Shinema is dependent upon the supply of fish coming from those same waters (The Issue). Therefore, the waters surrounding the Dokdo-Takeshima Island are of great economical value to each nation.
The current Free Trade Agreement talks also show the economic factor of the Dokdo-Takeshima island. The Free Trade Agreement would benefit South Korea and Japan as they would be aligned with China and become one of the largest markets in the world. This Free-Trade Agreement would benefit the three nations, making them one of the world’s largest market, “as together they account for 20 percent of the global gross domestic product and 17. 5 percent of all global trade,” (South). However, if there can not be a settlement on the Dokdo-Takeshima issue the Free Trade Agreement may not occur at all.
Conclusion: The Free-Trade Agreement is a great advantage for South Korea and Japan. It also provides a need for the territorial dispute over Dokdo-Takeshima to be resolved. However, Japan is in a tight pinch in the Free-Trade Agreement talks. Japan has a dispute over the Senkaku Islands with China and this disrupts the Free-Trade Agreement Talks as well (South). This presents a grand problem for Japan, because it leaves room for Japan to be left in isolation (Torres). It would be in Japan’s best interest to resolve it’s territorial disputes and to start with the Dokdo-Takeshima Island.
All Japan truly needs from the Dokdo-Takeshima island is the ability to continue fishing in the waters surrounding the island for it’s economy (specifically for the city of Shinema). It would be in the best interest of Japan to approach South Korea and offer a surrender of it’s rights to Takeshima as long as it may preserve fishing rights. This would lead to peace between Japan and South Korea which would lead to the Free-Trade Agreement becoming a reality and the economies of both countries swelling to proportions they never could have imagined.
Courtney from Study Moose
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