Creation of the New National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty - To build a place for thinking about Japan’s territories

On January 20, 2020, the National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty was relocated from Hibiya to Toranomon with expanded area. As introduced in Volume 9, No. 21 of the Journal of Islands Studies, the establishment of this newly relocated and expanded Museum owes its basic ideas to the recommendations by the Advisory Panel on Communications Concerning Territorial Integrity (July 29, 2019).2 The recommendations, titled “For Practical Initiatives to Strengthen Communication Based on Changes in the Domestic and Overseas Environment,” has gone far beyond just assembling general rules, suggesting many concrete plans presumed to be put into practice. All of the members of this Advisory Panel had either participated continuously in the Panel since its creation back in 2013, shortly after the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination on Territory and Sovereignty was established under the Cabinet Secretariat, or had actually been involved in activities in the area of territory and sovereignty. They joined not merely as leading scholars in academic fields, but gathered under the framework aligned for considering ways and means that meet specific demands, and are practically feasible. They visualized valuable ideas and thoughts in the form of the recommendation.

International Law and Japan's Territorial Disputes

Although Japan renounced its claims to these lands, the San Francisco Peace Treaty(SFPT)failed to declare a successor State. Thus, five of the highly contentious territorial disputes that plague Asia-Pacific today have their roots in the SFPT, three of which involve Japan—Kurile Islands/Northern Territories, Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo/Takeshima) and Pinnacle Islands (Diaoyu/Senkakus). Over the years, these disputes have intensified as a result of rising nationalism and a growing demand for living and non-living ocean resources. In particular, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which were designed to accommodate the interests of the developing States in exercising exclusive resource rights out to two hundred nautical miles (nm), have had the unintended consequence of intensifying resource competition and rekindling these longstanding territorial disputes.

Japan Coast Guard Activities On and Around Takeshima

The islands of Takeshima, an inherent part of Japanese territory, have been occupied by South Korea from 1954. The Japan Coast Guard is believed to have had its first involvement with the islands when it conducted surveys in June of the previous year. Hirose Hajime, an emeritus professor at the Japan Coast Guard Academy, traces the history of the JCG involvement with Takeshima, examining teaching materials, accounts of the surveys in the 1950s, and JCG white papers and annual reports.

Takeshima Facts & Figures

English-Language Research Papers Related to Takeshima Prepared by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947

During the occupation period, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a series of research papers to the United States. Some of these focused on territorial issues as Japan sought to clarify what it would retain in the peace settlement. There is an argument that Japanese lobbying efforts during this period led to the mistaken definition of Takeshima as not being a part of Korean territory in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. But the legal scholar Tsukamoto Takashi’s examination concludes that this was not the case.

Refutation of Korean Media Claims Regarding Japanese Maps of Takeshima(Part1)

Japanese Maps from the 1905 Incorporation into Japanese Territory Until 1945

The South Korean media produce a steady flow of commentary claiming that the island Takeshima, known in Korean as Dokdo, has been shown to be historically Korean territory by some newly discovered maps or documents. In the first part of his two-part essay, the historical geographer Funasugi Rikinobu notes that the International Court of Justice is unlikely to view old maps as a solid basis for sovereignty. Through a detailed examination of the District Overview Map, produced by the Japanese authorities in 1936, he counters Korean claims that its maps show Takeshima to be Korean territory.

The "Critical Date" of the Takeshima Dispute

The territorial dispute over Takeshima began in 1952, when South Korean President Syngman Rhee asserted sovereignty over a sea area including the islands. Takeshima is Japanese territory historically and legally, and Japan has urged Korea to agree to International Court of Justice proceedings to resolve the issue, to no avail. Legal specialist Miyoshi Masahiro explores the case, defining 1952 as the “critical date” after which acts should not be taken into consideration in determining the legal status of Takeshima. South Korea must promptly recognize the need for a law-based resolution.

The Meaning of the Territorial Incorporation of Takeshima (1905)

In January 1905, the Japanese cabinet decided to incorporate Takeshima into its territory, referring to the “title by occupation.” Effective control of an island is a key to occupation. In this paper, legal specialist Tsukamoto Takashi shows various examples of effective control, conducted peacefully and continuously by Japan, and examines Korea’s claims to the island (Korean name Dokdo) based on historical records up to around the turn of the twentieth century.

The Late-Seventeenth-Century "Takeshima" Dispute, with Reference to the Dajokan Order of 1877

The territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea over Takeshima is complex, involving numerous issues that have unfolded over hundreds of years. Japanese and Korean fishermen clashed in the late seventeenth century over abalone fishing grounds around Ulleungdo. Korea points to the shogunal order banning Japanese fishers from this island—then called Takeshima in Japan—as evidence that Japan negated her claim to today’s Takeshima (Dokdo). This study, by legal specialist Tsukamoto Takashi, examines documentation of the incident to ascertain whether this is the case.

The Treaty of Peace with Japan and Takeshima's Legal Status

When the Allied powers signed the peace treaty with Japan to bring World War II to its formal close, they spelled out the territories to be taken from the former imperial Japan. In this paper, the legal specialist Tsukamoto Takashi refers to numerous historical documents to explore how the islands of Takeshima were addressed in various revisions to the peace treaty and how they were excluded from the scope of the holdings to be renounced as part of Korea in the document’s final form.