Resolution of Territorial Disputes in East Asia: The Case of Dokdo

48 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2019

See all articles by Laurent Mayali

Laurent Mayali

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

John Yoo

University of California at Berkeley School of Law; American Enterprise Institute; Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Date Written: January 18, 2019

Abstract

This Article seeks to contribute to solving the Korea-Japan territorial dispute over Dokdo island (Korea)/Takeshima (Japanese). The Republic of Korea argues that Dokdo has formed a part of Korea since as early as 512 C.E.; as Korea currently exercises control over the island, its claim to discovery would appear to fulfill the legal test for possession of territory. Conversely, the Japanese government claims that Korea never exercised sufficient sovereignty over Dokdo. Japan claims that the island remained terra nullius — in other words, territory not possessed by any nation and so could be claimed — until it annexed Dokdo in 1905. Japan also claims that in the 1951 peace treaty ending World War II, the Allies did not include Dokdo in the list of islands taken from Japan, which implies that Japan retained the island in the postwar settlement. This article makes three contributions. First, it brings forward evidence from the maps held at various archives in the United States and Western Europe to determine the historical opinions of experts and governments about the possession of Dokdo. Second, it clarifies the factors that have guided international tribunals in their resolution of earlier disputes involving islands and maritime territory. Third, it shows how the claim of terra nullius has little legitimate authority when applied to East Asia, an area where empires, kingdoms, and nation-states had long exercised control over territory.

Keywords: law of the sea; territorial disputes; maritime territory; Korea; Japan; Dokdo; Takeshima

Suggested Citation

Mayali, Laurent and Yoo, John, Resolution of Territorial Disputes in East Asia: The Case of Dokdo (January 18, 2019). Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL), Vol. 36, No. 3, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3320079

Laurent Mayali

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Law Building
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

John Yoo (Contact Author)

University of California at Berkeley School of Law ( email )

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-600-3217 (Phone)
510-643-2673 (Fax)

American Enterprise Institute ( email )

1789 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.hoover.org/profiles/john-yoo

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