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Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005

1905 treaty paving way to annexing Korea illegal: scholars


Staff writer

OSAKA -- While much of the world has been thinking of 2005 as the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, this year for Japan's Korean community has more relevance as the 100th anniversary of a treaty that made Korea a protectorate of Japan and paved the way for eventual annexation and colonization.

At a symposium in Osaka on Friday, Japanese and Korean scholars said the treaty was illegal, and therefore Japan had no right to represent Korea when it signed any further treaties, including the Potsdam Treaty in 1945, which ended the war in the Pacific and divided the Korean Peninsula into North and South.

"The evidence that the treaty was illegally signed and therefore null and void is strong. Ultimately, this is an issue that will likely have to be tried at the International Court of Justice in The Hague," Ryukoku University professor Esturo Totsuka told the symposium.

According to scholars, at 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1905, after Japanese police had dragged Korean Prime Minister Han Kyu Sol from his chamber, former Japanese Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito and other officials forced him against his will to affix his signature to a document that became known as the 1905 Korea Protectorate Treaty.

"This was clearly a violation of international laws at the time, and it was the beginning of the long and tragic occupation of Korea, which led to at least 1 million Koreans being sent to Japan as forced laborers or as sex slaves," said Kim Yu Gwang, the head of a group connected to the Osaka chapter of the General Association of Korean Residents of Japan (Chosen Soren), a pro-Pyongyang organization.



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