Confidential Security Information about Liancourt Rocks

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Official - Informal

Confidential Security Information


Dear Al:

I have read both Tokyo's despatch No. 659 of October 3, 1952, entitled, "Koreans on Liancourt Rocks" as well as Pusan's Memorandum of October 15, 1952, entitled, "Use of Disputed Territory (Tokto Island) as Live Bombing Area" enclosed in your letter of October 16, 1952 to Ambassador Murphy.
It appears that the Department has taken the position that these rocks belong to Japan and has so informed the Korean Ambassador in Washington. During the course of drafting the Japanese Peace Treaty the Republic of Korea's views were solicited, in consequence of which, the Korean Ambassador requested the Secretary of State in a letter of July 19, 1951 to amend Article 2(a) of the draft treaty so as to include the islands of Dokdo (Liancourt Rocks) and Parangdo as well as Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet among those islands over which Japan would renounce right, title and claim by virtue of recognizing Korea's independence. In his reply to the Korean Ambassador the Secretary stated in a letter dated August 10, 1951 that the United States could not concur in the proposed amendment as it applied to the Liancourt Rocks since according to his information the Liancourt Rocks had never been treated as a part of Korea, they had been under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Japan's Shimane Prefecture since 1905 and it did not appear that they had ever before been claimed by Korea. As a result Article 2(a) of the Treaty of Peace with Japan makes no mention of the Liancourt Rocks:
"Japan, recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title, and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet."
/ The

E. Allan Lightner, Esquire

Liancourt Rocks
Charge d'affaires, a.i.,
American Embassy,
Pusan, Korea.

November 5, 1952

cc-Amembassy, Tokyo

Official - Informal
Confidential Security Information

The action of the United States-Japan Joint Committee in designating these rocks as a facility of the Japanese Government is therefore justified. The Korean claim, based on SCAPIN 677 of January 29, 1946, which suspended Japanese administration of various island areas, including Takeshima (Liancourt Rocks), did not preclude Japan from exercising sovereignty over this area permanently. A later SCAPIN, No. 1778 of September 16, 1947 designated the islets as a bombing range for the Far East Air Force and further provided that use of the range would be made only after notification through Japanese civil authorities to the inhabitants of the Oki Islands and certain ports on Western Honsu.

Sincerely yours,

Kenneth T. Young, Jr.,
Office of Northeast Asian Affairs

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).