The period following World War II has witnessed numerous international territorial disputes, particularly in Asia and Africa. Even as we enter the twenty-first century, a large number of these territorial disputes over sovereignty remain unresolved and continue to pose significant diplomatic barriers for the parties involved. Clive Schofield, the author of Global Boundaries, identified10 disputed island “hot spots” around the globe, including the Falkland Islands, Dokdo (Takeshima), Diaoyu (Senkaku), and the Kurile and Spratly Islands, among others.
Turning our attention to Northeast Asia, one territorial dispute of historic significance concerns a set of small rocky islets known as Dokdo in Korean or Takeshima in Japanese. Upon closer examination, these small islets represent more than just a dispute over territorial boundaries, but a historic source of tension and sensitivity that can be traced back to the period of Japanese imperialist aggression in Korea during the first half of the twentieth century. Today, this controversial territorial dispute remains as a critical obstacle to the amicable relations between Korea and Japan. Much of the problem appears to stem from the inability of both countries to reach a consensus on two interconnected issues: historical misperceptions and divergent legal interpretations over territorial claims to sovereignty. Bearing these two issues in mind, this book seeks to offer a fresh examination of the major historical and legal arguments at both sides of the Dokdo conflict from the perspective of international law. Through this approach, it is hoped this book will not only contribute to a better understanding of the facts and truth behind the Dokdo dispute, but also generate further discussion on how Korea and Japan might advance a productive dialog to achieve a meaningful resolution to this longstanding problem.