After World War II, the Allies officially announced the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration to discuss the repercussions of Japan’s imperialism that had taken countless lives. With the Cairo Declaration, the Allies demanded the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Empire. It also proclaimed the independence of Korea, a country that had been colonized by Japan and demanded the return of all territories that Japan had forcibly occupied to their rightful owners. Two years later, in 1945, Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allies and accepted the Potsdam Declaration, a proclamation that reconfirmed Japan’s acceptance of the original Cairo Declaration. Following these declarations, Japan was forced to restitute Dokdo, an island seized from the Korean Empire in 1905, to Korea. Additionally, the Allies legally settled all damages committed by Imperial Japan, e.g. excluding Dokdo from the Japanese territory, in SCAPIN, a memorandum that was written after the Second World War.
The Cairo Declaration (1943) & the Potsdam Declaration (1945)
The Cairo Declaration was a decree presented in November 27th of 1943 by the Allies (composed of Great Britain, the United States, and China, etc,) to end the Japanese imperialism. It included the announcement of Korea’s independence and the territorial policy of Japan henceforth. It also required Japan to return all the territories it seized under imperialism since the Sino-Japanese War in 1895. Thus, in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, Dokdo should be returned to Korea. The declaration is written as follows:
-The aforesaid Three Great Powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.
-Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed.
Japan, which surrendered to the Allies in 1945, was legally bound to embrace the Potsdam Declaration. Article 8 of the Potsdam Declaration also reconfirms Japan’s acceptance of the original Cairo Declaration.
Potsdam Declaration Article 8: “the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.”
SCAPIN was drafted in 1946 for postwar compensation. This memorandum supports the fact that the Allies considered Dokdo an island claimed during the time of Japanese imperialism and not originally Japan’s territory. SCAPIN-677 and SCAPIN-1033 explain the administrative control and fishing rights regarding Dokdo.
SCAPIN-677 Article 3: For the purpose of this directive, Japan is defined to include … excluding (a) Utsuryo (Ullung) Island, Liancourt Rocks [(Dokdo)]…and Quelpart (Saishu or Cheju) Island …
SCAPIN-1033 Article 3: Japanese vessels or personnel thereof will not approach closer than twelve (12) miles to Takeshima (Dokdo) (37°15’ North Latitude, 131°53’ East Longitude) nor have any contact with said island.
Hosaka, Y. (2010, September 15). Daehanminguk Dokdo [Dokdo of Korea]. Seoul, Korea: Sejong University Dokdo Research Institute, & Chaek-Mun.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea. Dokdo, Beautiful Island of Korea. In Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea. Retrieved from http://dokdo.mofa.go.kr/eng/pds/pdf.jsp
Northeast Asian History Foundation. (2012, September 6). Ten Truths About Dokdo Not Known in Japan. In Dokdo Research Institute. Retrieved from http://www.nahf.or.kr/Data/board_100/dokdo_Truth/English.pdf