The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has the honor to refer to the latter's note of November 10, 1952 stating that a single engined airplane described as being under the command of the United States in the Far East dropped bombs on Dokdo Island on September 15, 1952. The Embassy is advised that the limited amount of information provided in the Ministry's note as well as the very long time which has elapsed since the incident is said to have taken place make it virtually impossible for the United Nations Command to determine the facts in the case. Preparations have, however, been expedited to dispense with the use of Dokdo Island as a bombing range.
The Embassy has taken note of the statement contained in the Ministry's Note that "Dokdo Island(Liancourt Rocks)...is a part of the territory of the Republic of Korea". The United States Government's understanding of the territorial status of this islands was stated in Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk's note to the Korean Ambassador in Washington dated August 10, 1951.
Pusan, December 4, 1952
On 9th July 1951, Korean Government was formally declined it's greedy demands for Tsushima by Ambassador Dulles. Instead, she suddenly asked for Dokdo/Takeshima and even non-existent Parang-do on 19th, 1951. However, the 3rd August’s note inside American Governmen reveals that Mr. Boggs, long-time Geographer to the Department of State, couldn’t identify the location of Dokdo and Parang-do despite trying all resources in Washington, and neither did Korean Embassy. As a consequence, Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk officially denied Korea’s inordinate demand for Takeshima/Dokd on 9th 1951.
As regards the island of Dokdo, otherwise known as Takeshima or Liancourt Rocks, this normally uninhabited rock formation was according to our information never treated as part of Korea and, since about 1905, has been under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The island does not appear ever before to have been claimed by Korea. It is understood that the Korean Government's request that "Parangdo" be included among the islands named in the treaty as having been renounced by Japan has been withdrawn.
Korean Government didn’t offer a counterargument concerning the sovereignty of the islands before the Peace Treaty was signed on September 8, 1951. However, On Sep. 21st, 1951, ROK again claimed Dokdo/Takeshima based on SCAPIN-677 MacArthur line and U.S.’s apology to Korea for the victims of 1948 bombing incident. But American Embassy in Pusan laughed off ROK’s empty comment, “we have substantial documented evidence to prove that the isle has been in the Korean possession for many hundred years”, which they couldn’t present any. The series of denial by America cornered ROK and she weiled the big stick after she finally realized that Takeshima/Dokdo has formally left to Japan by San Francisco Peace Treaty. ROK suddenly set Rhee Line in open waters, enclosing Dokdo/Takeshima inside Korean side.
As was stated in the note, it was issued in the response to the ROK’s protest against the bombing incident happened on 15th Sep. Some 23 Korean fishermen and women divers fishing on Takeshima/Dokdo narrowly escaped from bombs dropped by the airplane which returned to the direction of Japan afterwards. Consequently, a “scholarly exploration” party by Korean government couldn’t reach to Takeshima. It is no wonder since SCAP and U.S. government considered Takeshima was Japanese territory and U.S. and Japan joint committee designated Takeshima as bombing range for U.S.Forces.
In July 1951, while Japan was still under Allied occupation, the Supreme Command for Allied Powers designated Takeshima as a bombing range for U.S. Forces by SCAPIN No. 2160. In July 1952, right after the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect, in response to the desire of the U.S. Forces to continue to use Takeshima as a training area, the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee established as the consultative body for the implementation of the Japan-U.S. Administrative Agreement (an agreement based on the former Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which was succeeded by the current Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement) designated Takeshima as a bombing range for the U.S. Forces stationed in Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs published this fact in the official gazette. ( “Takeshima as a Bombing Range for U.S. Forces” by Japanese MOFA)
Despite the fact that the islands are within the danger zone, the government of ROK not only didn’t take necessary steps to protect its own people dissuading fishermen/women from collecting shells on the islands but also even sent government lead “scientific expedition” whose “intent has obviously been to establish claim to Korean sovereignty over the rocks”. The similar incident had once happened in the June 8 of 1948. About 20 Korean were killed by the American bombing. In other words, ROK government took precedence its territorial ambitions over the life of its own people.
Next year, U.S. government ceased bombing because of the “crude implementation of Government control in Korea” and the U.S. and Japan “Joint Committee decided to release Takeshima from the designation of a bombing range for the U.S. Forces in March 1953”. Although the decision was made not only because of the incident, but because of petition by local people from Shimane on 20th May, 1952., Korean government soon started to take advantages of this cession as one of the proof U.S. ‘s recognition Korea’s sovereignty on the rocks.
This note is very important since Mr. Dennis Wilder, a Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, officially told that U.S. policy on this territorial dispute has been firm and consistent since 1952 during the press briefing on President's trip to Asia on July 30, 2008. “Our position since 1952” apparently means the U.S. position described in this official Note to ROK.
This note No. 187 had been referred many times in other U.S. documents such as “Letter from E. Allan Lightner American Embassy, Pusan Korea To Office of Northeast Asian Affairs, the Department of the State by E. Allan Lightner, December 4, 1952” or “Possible Methods of Resolving Liancourt Rocks Dispute between Japan and ROK, July 22, 1953.” Thus we did know that U.S. conveyed ROK their position (Takeshima/Liancourt Rocks are Japanese territory) second time. However, this is the first time we had an chance to see the document itself, since Korean government had not those unfavourable documents made open to the public.
The original of the document is from NARA, Box "322 Liancourt Rocks, 1952-54", Korea, Seoul Embassy, Classified General Records, 1952-63, RG 84 Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State,1788-1964.
1946 - Jan. 29 - SCAPIN 677
1946 - Feb. 13 - "Conference with GHQ/SCAP concerning separation of the administration"
1946 - Jun. 22 - SCAPIN 1033
1947 - Sep. 16 -SCAPIN 1778
1949 - Nov. 14 - Willam J. Sebald's telegram
1949 - U.S. Maps DOES NOT Confirm Korean Sovereignty Over Dokdo
1949 - Nov. 14 - A letter from W. Walton Butterworth
1949 - Dec. 29 - U.S. Draft made on December 29, 1949
1950 - July - Commentary on Draft Treaty by the Department of State
1950 - Aug. 7 - U.S. Draft made on August 7, 1950
1950 - Oct. 26 - USA Answers to Questions Submitted by the Australian Government
1951 - Apr. - May: Joint UK and USA Draft - extra(1)
1951 - Jun. 1 - New Zealand's view - extra(2)
1951 - Jul. 6 - SCAPIN 2160 (cache)
1951 - Jul. 9 - Coversation of Yu Chan Yang with John F. Dulles
1951 - Jul. 19 - The 2nd Conversation between Yu Chan Yang and John F. Dulles
1951 - Jul. 26 - the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee designated Takeshima as a bombing range for the U.S. Forces stationed in Japan. (official gazette of Japan)
1951 - Aug. 2 - Another letter from You Chan Yang
1951 - Aug.3 - Bogg’s Memorandum (On re-ceiving Boggs's memo. I asked the Korean desk to find out whether anyone in the Korean Embassy officer had told him they believed Dokdo was near Ullengdo, or Takeshima Rock, and suspected that Parangdo was too.)
1951 - Aug. 9 - Rusk's Letter ( As regards the island of Dokdo, otherwise known as Takeshima or Liancourt Rocks, this normally uninhabited rock formation was according to our information never treated as part of Korea and, since about 1905, has been under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The island does not appear ever before to have been claimed by Korea. )
1951 - Sep. 9 - San Francisco Peace Treaty
1951 - Sep. 21 - Korean Government comprehended Takeshima/Dokdo was affirmed as a Japanese Territory in Peace Treaty
1952- Jan. 18 - Syngman Rhee Line
1950's - Japan & Korea Argue Their Claims in 1950s Letters
1952 - Nov. 5 - Confidential Security Information of USA ("It appears that the Department has taken the position that these rocks belong to Japan and has so informed the Korean Ambassador in Washington." )
1952 - Dec. 4 - Confidential Security Information of USA ( "I much appreciate your letter of November 14 in regard to the status of the Dokdo Island (Liancourt Rocks). The information you gave us had never been previously available to the Embassy. We had never heard of Deen Rusk’s letter to the Korean Ambassador in which the Department took a definite stand on this question.")
1953 Jul. 22 - Confidential Security Information of USA “Possible Methods of Resolving Liancourt Rocks Dispute between Japan and ROK”( The United States Government's understanding of the territorial status of this island was stated in assistant Secretary dated August 10,1951.")
1953 - Nov. 30 - Secret Security Information of USA ("The Liancourt Rocks case appears to have aspects in common with that of Shikotan Island" "Remind the ROK of our previous statement of view (the Rusk letter)")
1953 - Dec. 9 - SECRET SECURITY INFORMATION by Dulles
1953 - Jul 22 - US Doc. Reconfirms Dean Rusk Letter (Letter from Office of Northeast Asian Affairs To E. Allan Lightner American Embassy, Pusan Korea by L. Burmaster Office of U.S. Northeast Asian Affair )
1953 - Oct 13 - Daiichi-Daihou Maru Incident - the dispute over the Rhee Syngman Line
1954 - Aug. - Report of Van Fleet mission to the Far East, 26 April - 7 August , 1954
2008 - Jul. 30 - Press Briefing by Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, Dennis Wilder, on President's Trip to Asia (cache)