By Doh See-hwan

Recently, two notable studies have been reported in relation to the Japanese Society of International Law. First, the Takeshima documents study group, which has claimed Japan's sovereignty over Korea's Dokdo, is openly researching the Daijokan directive, which can be said to be the Achilles' heel of its sovereignty claim over Dokdo. Second, the issue of the theory of protectorate related to the Korea-Japan Treaty of 1905, which has been debated several times and remains controversial, is being discussed again. The key themes of both are the invasion of Dokdo and the Korea-Japan Treaty of 1905, ultimately both pointing to 2025. Moreover, it is noteworthy that 2025 marks the 120th anniversary of Japan's invasion of Dokdo and the coercion of the treaty by Japan, and that such discussions are being led by the Japanese Society of International Law.

On that premise, when I examine the state practices of Japan, a late-imperialist country, before and after the invasion of Dokdo sovereignty in 1905, I can see that it is building a legal foundation for international law in foreign policy by mobilizing the Japanese Society of International Law, established in March 1897. The Japanese Society of International Law was established mainly by international law faculty from Tokyo Imperial University and the Army and Naval Universities, and working-level officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also participated.

On the surface, the Japanese Society of International Law presented its purpose as academic research into international law, but in reality, its true purpose was to utilize international law as a tool to adjust interests between imperialist countries.

Moreover, seriously, the Japanese Society of International Law is problematic in that it has taken the lead in presenting a paper that seeks not to simply justify or legalize Japan's foreign policy, specifically the policy of aggression against Korea, after the fact, but to proactively develop a policy and logic of invasion and urge its realization.

The "International Law Journal," published since February 1902, contains many discussions about the Japanese government's policy of invading Korea, especially before the Korean Empire's declaration of neutrality on Jan. 21, 1904, and the forced annexation on Aug. 10, 1910. Even taking into account the time it takes to publish in academic journals, the distortion of international legal principles through treaty coercion related to Korea's protectorate status and forced annexation were presented several years in advance and insisted on their realization.

However, ultimately, even though international law before and after 1905 was at a point where Japanese-style legal positivism as an extreme form of nationalism associated with aggressive state practices was in decline and the normativity of universal international norms was being enhanced, it went directly against this and was used as an argument for invasion. We cannot help but point out that the mobilization of international law itself is an illegal act that is invalid under international law.

At this point, it is urgent to identify the distortion of international law principles based on Japanese colonialism of Temporary Investigation Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs linked to the Japanese Society of International Law, which provided the international legal basis for the aggression policy against Korea. The Japanese government concealed the Temporary Investigation Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which existed from March 1904 to February 1906 and referred to it as an institution established solely to investigate the theory of protectorate.

Moreover, it is worth noting that its duration not only coincides with the period of Dokdo's invasion and treaty coercion in 1905 but also its members were international law scholars who led the theory of subsequent forced annexation after the denial of the Korean Empire's neutrality declaration.

Then, it will be necessary to review the founder and members of the Temporary Investigation Committee. It was organized by Yamaza Enjiro, the director of the political affairs bureau who planned to invade the continent starting with Dokdo. Yamaza wanted to establish the foundation for the Japanese invasion policy by mobilizing international law to enhance Japanese colonialism in that he formed a committee with international law scholars, not ‘Seven doctors at Tokyo University,’ who declared the theory of opening a war against Russia on June 10, 1903. It is composed of all international law scholars, including Tokyo Imperial University professors Toru Terao, Sakutaro Tachi and Tetsukichi Kurachi, Kakushuin University professor Shingo Nakamura and diplomat Sakuye Takahashi, to embody Yamaza's plan to conquer Korea as the basis for invasion of the continent.

Most of all, in relation with the purpose of the concealed committee, as Sakue Takahashi, a member of the committee, mentioned in the Tokyo Nippon newspaper in 1904, the temporary investigation committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs linked to the Japanese Society of International Law presupposes the development of nominal international law research but emphasizes the purpose of the establishment as the link between the ministry and international law scholars to resolve international law issues in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War in favor of Japan.

In order to neutralize the ‘Peace Line Declaration' announced by our government on Jan. 18, 1952, the Japanese government sent a verbal note claiming Japan's sovereignty over Dokdo four times since 1953. However, it can be confirmed that the 17th century inherent territory theory, first insisted by the Japanese government in the fourth verbal note in 1962, did not even exist at the time of Japan's invasion of Dokdo in 1905.

On the other hand, regarding the claim that Japan denied the link between the invasion of Dokdo and Japan's compulsory protection and annexation, it is necessary to pay attention to the invasion of Dokdo and the coercion of the treaty subsequent such as the Korea-Japan Protocol and the Korea-Japan Agreement in 1905, which are illegal and invalid under international law, starting from the occupation of Jinhae Bay and Masan City on Feb. 6, 1904, on the Korean Empire, which declared wartime neutrality on Jan. 21, 1904.

Ahead of 2025, the 120th anniversary of Japan's usurpation of Korea's Dokdo sovereignty, I am tracking and reviewing attempts to distort not only historical facts but also international legal principles through the Japan Society of International Law, which is building the policy basis for the Japanese government's Dokdo sovereignty claim. We must clearly recognize that the essence of Japan's deep-rooted violence and greed over Korea's sovereignty over Dokdo is Japanese colonialism, as declared in the Cairo Declaration. Therefore, as a symbol of Korea's true territorial sovereignty and the cornerstone of the East Asian peace community, I would like to once again urge Japan's true historical and international legal obligations regarding Korea's sovereignty over Dokdo.

Dr. Doh See-hwan is a senior research fellow at the Northeast Asian History Foundation.

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History of Dokdo invasion and Japanese colonialism

26 0
28.11.2023
By Doh See-hwan

Recently, two notable studies have been reported in relation to the Japanese Society of International Law. First, the Takeshima documents study group, which has claimed Japan's sovereignty over Korea's Dokdo, is openly researching the Daijokan directive, which can be said to be the Achilles' heel of its sovereignty claim over Dokdo. Second, the issue of the theory of protectorate related to the Korea-Japan Treaty of 1905, which has been debated several times and remains controversial, is being discussed again. The key themes of both are the invasion of Dokdo and the Korea-Japan Treaty of 1905, ultimately both pointing to 2025. Moreover, it is noteworthy that 2025 marks the 120th anniversary of Japan's invasion of Dokdo and the coercion of the treaty by Japan, and that such discussions are being led by the Japanese Society of International Law.

On that premise, when I examine the state practices of Japan, a late-imperialist country, before and after the invasion of Dokdo sovereignty in 1905, I can see that it is building a legal foundation for international law in foreign policy by mobilizing the Japanese Society of International Law, established in March 1897. The Japanese Society of International Law was established mainly by international law faculty from Tokyo Imperial University and the Army and Naval Universities, and working-level officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also participated.

On the surface, the Japanese Society of International Law presented its purpose as academic research into international law, but in reality, its true purpose was to utilize international law as a tool to adjust interests between imperialist countries.

Moreover, seriously, the Japanese Society of International Law is problematic in that it has taken the lead........

© The Korea Times


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