The Liancourt Rocks Dispute
If there is one way to get Koreans to stop thinking about the upcoming importation of USA beef, it is to appeal to patriotism and hatred of Japanese.
There are several things that have occurred in the news recently regarding the rocks:
- Japan announced that it would likely show Takeshima (the Japanese name for the rocks) as being Japanese territory in new school textbooks. Announced on this Japanese newspaper back in May, but only in Korean news this week.
- The US Library of Congress is changing the classification of the rocks from “Tok Island (Korea) to the more neutral “Liancourt Rocks.” Dokdo is the current Korean name for the rocks, Tok would be an older romanisation of the Korean name.
Given how corrupt the food lobby is in general in the USA, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they figured they could stop all the beef protests by pushing this issue that would rile up Koreans even more. Koreans really show off their patriotism and are given a healthy dose of anti-Japanese propaganda in their schools.
To ensure Elementary students know that Dokdo is part of their country, an information pack was sent to all the teachers in my school. It included flash files, patriotic mp3s, and some html files. There were pictures like this included:
I don’t think depicting all of Japan on fire is particularly appropriate over two small rocks, but I am not Korean. It is an odd picture for several reasons – it looks like Korea was pasted onto the sea, as if it doesn’t really exist there. I don’t think a patriotic Korean would do such a sloppy job making a map. It made me think that a Korean modified what was originally a Chinese anti-Japan picture. However, if this were Chinese, they likely would not depict China as having two different capitals (Beijing and Taipei) in the picture. Taiwanese people generally seem to like Japan (to the point the DPP seem to be aiming for Taiwan to become part of Japan should Taiwan fail to be independent of China), so I doubt they would make a picture of Japan on fire.
Back to my corruption/conspiracy theory, I think it is possible the US Beef industry lobbyists thought they could make Koreans forget about the beef issue by dredging up news from May that Koreans and Japanese would be sure to fight over. The USA gets no bad press over it, and all the pent up US Beef anger is transformed to anti-Japanese anger over Dokdo.
In the meantime, the US Beef industry makes Japan happier and more likely to accept US Beef again behind the scenes by giving into Japanese requests over the naming of the Liancourt rocks. They get the Library of Congress to change the name of the rocks from one based on Korean to something more neutral as well as classify the rocks as “Islands of the Sea of Japan.” Korea calls that body of water the East Sea.
My opnion? Under modern rules, it seems apparent to me that Dokdo (the Korean name for the rocks) would belong to Korea. Modern UN rules say that for a territorial claim to be made, there has to be trees on the territory. Korea planted the first trees on Dokdo in 1978 and has been in continuous control of the two islands since. Dokdo is also visible from Korean territory, but not Japanese territory.
Of course, the dispute goes back prior to the UN, so I am not sure how claims would be settled on a historical basis. I haven’t looked at Japan’s and Korea’s concessions and acknowledgements made when they first became UN member countries. I am also not sure if previous Japanese membership (at the time, Korea was a Japanese colony) in the League of Nations has any affect here, since Japan left the League of Nations before the UN replaced it.