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Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910

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Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910

This article is about the 1910 treaty. For the 1905 treaty, see Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905.
This article is about the 1910 treaty. For the 1907 treaty, see Japan-Korea Treaty of 1907.
Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty
Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty of 1910
Sunjong of the Korean Empire (Lee Cheok, 이척 李坧) in effect on August 22, 1910 (明示43年、隆熙4年). The last emperor's first name (坧) can be found above.
Type Annexation treaty
Context Annexation of the Korean Empire by the Empire of Japan
Sealed August 22, 1910
Effective August 29, 1910
Expiration June 22, 1965 (1965-06-22)
Expiry June 22, 1965 (1965-06-22)



The Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910, also known as the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty, was made by representatives of the Empire of Japan and the Korean Empire on August 22, 1910. In this treaty. Japan formally annexed Korea following the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 by which Korea became the protectorate of Japan and Japan–Korea Treaty of 1907 by which Korea was deprived of the administration of internal affairs. [1]

The 1965 Treaty of Basic Relations between South Korea and Japan confirmed this treaty is "already null and void".[2]


The treaty was proclaimed to the public (and became effective) on August 29, 1910, officially starting the period of Japanese rule in Korea. The treaty had eight articles, the first being: "His Majesty the Emperor of Korea makes the complete and permanent cession to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan of all rights of sovereignty over the whole of Korea".

Gojong of the Korean Empire later called the treaty a "neugyak (늑약 勒約)."[3] The alternative term used in lieu of "joyak (조약 條約)" implies the treaty was coerced to Koreans by Japanese. "Gyeongsul Gukchi (경술국치 庚戌國恥)" and "Gukchi-il (국치일 國恥日)" are alternative terms for the year and date the treaty was signed, respectively.[4] The terms indicate the humiliation the treaty gave to Koreans.

Role of the American government

The role of the American government under President Theodore Roosevelt in facilitating and agreeing to the Japanese annexation of Korea as well as the ethnic biases that underpinned that annexation receive serious consideration and documentation in The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley. In the book, Bradley describes how then Korean King Gojong had accepted a U.S.–Korea Treaty in 1882 which, in part, read [i]f a third power acted unjustly or oppressively with either country, the United States or Korea promised to exert their "good offices, on being informed of the case, to bring about an amicable arrangement, thus showing their friendly feelings".[5] A similar conclusion was reached by Homer B. Hulbert in his book, The Passing of Korea; Hulbert had been sent by Emperor Sunjong as his ambassador to Washington, D.C. and The Hague to protest the Japanese annexation in 1910. Roosevelt had, in fact, left office in March 1909.

All the while Roosevelt had said "I should like to see Japan have Korea".[6] Bradley maintains that the Korean government labored under the misunderstanding, which the Americans fostered, that the country had the support of the Americans when, in fact, their fate had already been sealed. American acquiescence of the Japanese annexation of Korea had already been secured through the Taft-Katsura Agreement at the Treaty of Portsmouth when the US agreed to recognize Japanese propinquity in Korea.

Role of the British government

Britain had already acquiesced to the annexation, via their connection to Japan via the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902.


The legality of the Treaty was disputed by the exiled Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea as well as the South Korean government. While the treaty was affixed with the national seal of the Korean Empire, Emperor Sunjong of Korea refused to sign the treaty as required under Korean law. The treaty was instead signed by Prime Minister Lee Wan-Yong of the Korean Empire, and Resident General Count Terauchi Masatake of the Empire of Japan.

This issue caused considerable difficulty in negotiating the establishment of basic diplomatic relations between the countries. Korea insisted to include a chapter stipulating "The treaty was null and void". A compromise was reached in language of Article II of the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations:

"It is confirmed that all treaties or agreements concluded between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Korea on or before August 22, 1910 are already null and void." [7]

Conference to discuss legality of the treaty

In 2001, an academic research of the legality for Korea's annexation by Japan from 1910 to 1945 which was titled A reconsideration of Japanese Annexation of Korea from the Historical and International Law Perspectives was held at Harvard University with a support of Korea Foundation.[8] The conference was held 3 times, namely on January, April and November and related scholars of history and international law participated from the South Korea, North Korea, Japan, the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

James Crawford, a Professor of Cambridge University and a specialist in international law, challenged the Korean claim. He said that in the international community at the time, international law applied only to the relationship between the civilized countries. It did not apply to the non-civilized counties. When a civilized country colonizes a non-civilized country, even the form of treaty was unnecessary. Rather, what was important in those days was how the relationship between these civilized and non-civilized countries was perceived by the other civilized countries. In that sense, by the fact that the annexation of Korea by Japan was admitted by the Western powers, it cannot be illegal even if how big procedural defect existed or how much it was against the will of the government ruler of non-civilized country.[9] To sum it up, at the time of the annexation, it was not rare for one country to assume control of another if the latter could not survive on its own, from the perspective of preserving international order and the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was not illegal in terms of international law.[10]

Anthony Carty, a Professor of the University of Derby stated "During the height of the imperialism, it is difficult to find an international law sufficient to determine the legality/illegality of a particular treaty."[9]

Alexis Dudden, a Professor of University of Connecticut discussed about the Nitobe Inazō's science of colonial policy. She is known as an author of a book "Japan's Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power" in which she discusses how Japanese policymakers carefully studied and then invoked international law to annex Korea legally.[9][11]

According to Kan Kimura, the bottom line of this conference is that the Korean claim "The annexation was illegal" was totally unaccepted by the participated Western scholars, among others by those specialized in international law.[9]


On August 28, 2007, regarding the General Power of Attorney by Sunjong, Korean news paper Dong-a Ilbo reported that Korean monarchs did not sign in the official documents with their real names traditionally. But, the Korean Emperor was forced by Japan to follow a new custom to sign with his real name, which originated from the western hemisphere. It mentioned Sunjong's signature may be compulsory.[12]

On June 23, 2010, 75 South Korean congressmen suggested the legal nullification of the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty to the Prime Minister Naoto Kan.[13]

On July 6, 2010, Korean and Japanese progressive Christian groups gathered in Tokyo's Korean YMCA chapter and jointly declared that the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty was unjustified.[14]

On July 28, 2010, approximately 1000 people in Korea and Japan petitioned to the Japanese Prime Minister that the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty be originally nullified and demanded an apology led by the Japanese spokesperson, Haruki Wada.[15]

See also



  • Korean Mission to the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, D.C., 1921-1922. (1922). Korea's Appeal to the Conference on Limitation of Armament. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. OCLC 12923609
  • United States. Dept. of State. (1919). Catalogue of treaties: 1814-1918. Washington: Government Printing Office. OCLC 3830508

External links

  • , August 29, 2010
  • , May 20, 2010

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