July 30, 2015
Treatment of Takeshima in the San Francisco Peace Treaty
The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed in September 1951, stipulated 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, Port Hamilton and Dagelet.”
Upon learning of this section drafted by the United States and the United Kingdom, in July 1951 the ROK submitted a letter to Dean G. Acheson, the Secretary of State of the United States, from Yang Yu Chan, ROK Ambassador to the United States. This letter contained the following statement: “My Government requests that the word ‘renounces' in Paragraph A, Article Number 2, should be replaced by ‘confirms that it renounced on August 9, 1945, all rights, titles and claims to Korea and the islands which were part of Korea prior to its annexation by Japan, including the islands [of] Quelpart, Port Hamilton, Dagelet, Dokdo and Parangdo'.”
In response to this request from the ROK, in August of the same year the United States submitted a letter (an excerpt of which is shown below) from Dean Rusk, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, to Ambassador Yang, and in it clearly denied the claims of the ROK.
“...the United States Government does not feel that the Treaty [the San Francisco Peace Treaty] should adopt the theory that Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration on August 9, 1945 constituted a formal or final renunciation of sovereignty by Japan over the areas dealt with in the Declaration. As regards to the island of Dokdo, otherwise known as Takeshima or Liancourt Rocks, this normally uninhabited rock formation was according to our information never treated as part of Korea and, since about 1905, has been under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The island does not appear ever before to have been claimed by Korea.”
Based on this correspondence, in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, it is obvious that Takeshima was affirmed as a territory of Japan.
The report by Ambassador Van Fleet after visiting the ROK in 1954 and returning to the United States also states that the United States concluded that Takeshima was a territory of Japan and the island was not included among the islands that Japan released from its sovereignty under the San Francisco Peace Treaty.
- Abstract from the San Francisco Peace Treaty (PDF)
- Letter from ROK Ambassador to the United States, Yang You Chan, to the United States Secretary of State, Dean G. Acheson (PDF)
- Letter to ROK Ambassador to the United States, Yang Yu Chan, from the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, Dean Rusk (PDF)
- Report by Ambassador Van Fleet (PDF)