Two distinguished Americans played a role in the territorial dispute over Dokdo Island. One was John Foster Dulles, who served as U.S. special envoy to the Treaty of Peace with Japan, which was signed in San Francisco on September 8, 1951, and later became U.S. Secretary of State. The other was William J. Sebald. In particular, Sebald is best remembered for his fervent lobbying on behalf of the Japanese government's claim to Dokdo before and after the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Unfortunately, little else has been made known about Sebald.
While his name appears in a research paper published by Korea's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, he was referred to as "Ziebold" rather than Sebald. In another study, Sebald is described as an American political adviser to the Japanese Provisional Government, an assertion supported by the Korean media and other studies as well. On the other hand, a study conducted by senior Korean researchers identified him as a political adviser to the Japanese government whose lobbying efforts prior and after the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty helped to tilt U.S. views on the sovereignty of Dokdo in Japan's favor. Although his actions severely undermined Korea's claim to Dokdo, little seems to be known about his personal background or his career activities. In this regard, the only verifiable information about him appears to be that he once worked for the Japanese government as a political adviser.
However, William J. Sebald was neither a lobbyist nor an adviser of the Japanese government. Rather, he was a regular ambassador-level diplomat of the U.S. State Department, who from 1947 to 1952 also served as U.S. political adviser, Head of the Diplomatic Section of the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (SCAP), and chairman and member of the U.S. Allied Council for Japan. Moreover, from 1949 through 1951, in his capacity as a U.S. political adviser to SCAP, he was actively involved in the preparations and negotiations related to the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951). He later served as U.S. ambassador to Burma and Australia. His full name was William Joseph Sebald.
This paper seeks to briefly examine Sebald's career activities, with a particular emphasis on his role during the U.S. occupation of Japan, his views on Japan, and his influence on Korea's interests and Korea-Japan relations.
Sebald started his career as a navy officer, and then went on to serve as a lawyer and diplomat thereafter. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1918, and served in the U.S. Navy until 1930, and again from 1942-45. He was assigned as a military attach?to the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, where he took Japanese-language courses from 1925-28. Although he left the Navy in order to practice law, he reenlisted in 1942 and served until 1945. During the Pacific War, he worked in the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Sebald was a lawyer as well. After graduating from the law school of the University of Maryland, he practiced law in Washington, D.C. and the state of Maryland, and also maintained a law office in Tokyo in the 1930s. In the final phase of his professional career, he served as a diplomat who played an active role during the reconstruction of Japan, the Korean War, and the San Francisco Peace Treaty. From 1947-52 he served in turn as a U.S. political adviser on Japan, Head of the Diplomatic Section of the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers, and chairman and member of the U.S. Allied Council for Japan. Later, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Burma (1952-54), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (1954-57), and U.S. Ambassador to Australia (1957-61).
As a result of his three closely intertwined careers, Sebald acquired an in-depth knowledge of the Japanese language, culture, society, and law, which led to his becoming enchanted with Japanese culture. Upon graduation from Annapolis, he was appointed a military attach?to the U.S. embassy in Japan. Ordered to learn Japanese, he enrolled in Japanese courses in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, where he met Edith Frances de Becker, whom he married in 1927. Sebald's father-in law was British, while his mother-in-law was Japanese. His father-in-law, Joseph Ernest de Becker, who settled in Japan at the onset of the 20th century, became an expert in Japanese law and translated and published numerous books on law-related subjects. His mother-in-law, a painter, died in 1926 from injuries suffered during the Great Earthquake of 1923.
Sebald began to develop an understanding of Japanese law before his marriage by working with his future father-in-law on the translation of relevant materials into English. As such, Sebald helped to disseminate information on Japanese law in the West even before the outbreak of the Pacific War. From 1927-28, he was responsible for investigating and overseeing Japan's compliance with the Washington Disarmament Agreement, signed in 1922 between the United States and Japan. When Sebald returned to the United States in 1928, he was offered a partnership in the law firm owned by Becker, who died in 1929. In 1930, Sebald left the naval service and enrolled at law school, passing the bar exam three years later. In 1933, he took over his father-in-law_ law firm in Kobe, Japan. His law practice and experiences in Japan during this period helped to launch another one of his careers: an expert in Japanese law. In 1939, he was investigated by the Japanese Special High Prosecutorsapan. When Sebald returned to the United States in 1928, he was offered a partnership in at year.
After contacting a friend who was the head of the Far East Section of the Investigation Bureau of the United States Navy, Sebald was assigned to F22, the Pacific Operations Section of the Combat Intelligence Division within the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief of the United States Navy, a position which involved the handling of classified information. As such, references to W. J. Sebald can be found in documents dealing with how U.S. intelligence managed to break the secret codes of the Japanese military.Sebald's Experiences and Understanding of JapanSebald's Position with SCAP
In the aftermath of the Pacific War, Sebald volunteered for a post in the Office of the Political Adviser to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan. On December 3, 1945, he was appointed as special assistant of the Auxiliary Foreign Service and assigned to the staff of the acting U.S. Political Adviser to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, where he served as an adviser on Japanese law. In February 1946, Sebald was promoted to the position of political reporter upon the dismissal of John K. Emmerson from the post due to suspicions that he was communicating with communist elements. The position of political reporter enabled Sebald to come into contact with prominent Japanese political, business, and social leaders (With MacArthur in Japan, William J. Sebald, 1965, p. 44, hereafter referred to as _ebald memoirsealing with how U.S. intelligence managed to break the secret codes of the Japanrship in nts, became a full-time Foreign Service officer after passing special examinations in 1946 (Sebald memoirs, p. 57). He also served as an assistant and adviser to George A. Atcheson, who was then the head of the U.S. Allied Council for Japan.
The most significant civilian position within the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers was the post held by George A. Atcheson, who served concurrently as a political adviser (POLAD) dispatched by the U.S. State Department to General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers; Head of the Diplomatic Section of the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers; and chairman and member of the Allied Council for Japan. POLADs were senior State Department officials who were dispatched as personal advisers to leading U.S. military leaders to provide their expertise on diplomatic and political matters. This particular position involved advising General MacArthur on U.S. policy toward Japan as well as diplomatic and political matters related to Japan, and as such was the most important non-military position in Japan during the post-war period. The diplomatic section of SCAP handled all diplomatic matters involving Japan, whose own diplomatic structure had been dismantled following its formal surrender.
For its part, the Allied Council for Japan was established for the purpose of assisting SCAP during a meeting of the foreign ministers of the United States, Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and China, held in Moscow in December 1945. In reality, this body served as an advisory group for these countries on matters pertaining to Japan. Although originally installed as chairman of the Allied Council for Japan, General MacArthur, due to concern that his role on the council would interfere with his duties at SCAP, assigned the position to Atcheson. As the holder of the above-mentioned three positions, Atcheson essentially served as MacArthur's civilian adviser and the most influential U.S. civilian official in Tokyo.
Atcheson was a Chinese specialist who started out as an assistant interpreter in Beijing and Chongqing. His diplomatic career in China began in February 1924 with his appointment as deputy council. He later served as council in Tianjin (1928), Fuzhou (1928), and Nanjing (1934), before being appointed as council for the U.S. embassy in Chongqing in December 1942. He was later promoted to the rank of foreign officer, second class in July 1944 and then to foreign officer, first class in May 1945. On September 7, 1945 he was dispatched to SCAP as a political advisor, and then promoted to the rank of ambassador-level diplomat on May 30, 1946. While in Chongqing, Atcheson came into contact with prominent Koreans, such as Cho Soang and Kim Koo, from whom he learned about the activities of the Korean Provisional Government in China. In this way, Atcheson was an archetypical _ld China hand.oted to the rank of foreign officer, second class in July 1944 and then to foreign officer, first class in May 1945. On September 7, 1945 he was dispatched to SCAP as a political advisor, a sympathizing with communist elements.
In his role as political adviser representing the U.S. State Department, Atcheson would often butt heads with MacArthur. The general, who came to be known as the "new Japanese emperor" as a result of his Asia-first policy outlook, sought to assure that Japan was rebuilt into an anti-communist bulwark. MacArthur was of a mindset that the proposed Japanese reforms would make it possible for the communist agents masquerading as Japanese liberals to foment a communist revolution. More to the point, he believed that measures, such as the removal of public officials from the former regime, payment of compensation, and curtailment of business monopolies would only serve to exacerbate the domestic problems of Japan. And as such, he pushed for Japan's reestablishment as the "natural leader" of Asia, while implementing only superficial reforms and leaving power in the hands of the old guard.
In fact, debate over how Japan should be rebuilt emerged from the time of the onset of the Pacific War. As the United States prepared plans for the eventual occupation of Japan in 1944-45, U.S. Undersecretary of State Joseph C. Grew, who had served as U.S. ambassador to Japan before the war, and other officials, such as Eugene Dooman, maintained a viewpoint that, while Japan had veered off course, it could easily be returned to the international community of nations if it implemented necessary reforms. On the other hand, supporters of the New Deal and many leading economists argued that fundamental political and economic restructuring was required to ensure the development of a democratic and peaceful Japan. This debate ended with the political defeat of Grew in 1945.
After the war, a conflict emerged among the U.S. political advisers on Japan, in particular between China specialists, such as Atcheson and Service, and Japan specialists like Max Waldo Bishop. In this regard, Sebald noted, "the basic difference was over the degree of repression which should be applied to the Japanese" (Sebald memoirs, p. 43).
Atcheson died in an airplane crash in August 1947. Immediately thereafter, based on his discretionary authority, MacArthur appointed Sebald to the dual posts of Head of the Diplomatic Section of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, and chairman and member of the U.S. Allied Council for Japan (Sebald memoirs, p. 60). As a U.S. diplomat with much experience in China, Atcheson had vivid memories of the atrocities committed by Japan in Northeast Asia during the first half of the 20th century. As such, with MacArthur's appointment of Sebald, a young and disciplined naval lieutenant with pro-Japanese sentiments, he was replacing an adviser who had advocated the thorough dismantlement of Japan's militarism. Thus, Sebald's meteoric rise within diplomatic circles was more the result of Atcheson's accidental death and MacArthur's personal preferences rather than his diplomatic expertise. While his appointment represented a stroke of good fortune for Japan, it would lead to negative consequences for Korea.
The U.S. State Department opposed Sebald's appointment as U.S. political adviser to SCAP, and according to press reports had intended to appoint Maxwell M. Hamilton, an experienced diplomat, to the post in October 1947. However, MacArthur rejected the State Department's plan to appoint Hamilton on the grounds that he was a China specialist and not an expert in Japanese affairs. MacArthur advised the State Department that there was no need for any change, while noting that Sebald was admirably performing his duties. In the end, Sebald was appointed as acting U.S. political adviser to SCAP, a position which he maintained through January 7, 1949. The appointment of Sebald, a "worthy student of the 'School of General MacArthur,'" who thus abandoned his naval uniform to don a diplomatic trench coat, was a subject of controversy not only within the U.S. State Department, but the Soviet press as well (Sebald memoirs, p. 61).
As such, in October 1947, Sebald was concurrently serving in the three most significant civilian positions in Japan.At that time, Sebald was also an avid supporter of a “reverse course” policy toward Japan.This period was marked by a deepening of the Cold War confrontation and invigoration of Japan’s lobbying efforts of the United States.The Allied Council for Japan became an instrumental part of Japan’s systematic lobbying efforts, which included the participation of diplomats from the State Department, such as Max Bishop, Joseph Grew,Valentine, and Allison. Japan’s objectives included preventing the democratization of the nation and abandonment of its militarist policy, reestablishing its relations with the Asian continent, and linking of its economic recovery to the economic development of Korea.
Since Sebald was not a regular career diplomat and his rank was thus lower than that of the above-mentioned diplomats, his influence on the planning and implementation of U.S. policy toward Japan, under MacArthur, was in all likelihood rather minimal. As such, Sebald did not pursue Japanese interests at the expense of U.S. interests, but rather, as an assistant to MacArthur, sought to promote the views of the general, who himself displayed pro-Japanese inclinations. Nevertheless, even this minimal influence played a decisive role in Japan's relations with other countries, especially in regard to Korea. As the U.S. State Department did not regard Korea-Japan relations as a high-priority issue, Sebald's views and decisions formed the basis for relevant U.S. policy measures. In this regard, Sebald never hesitated to protect Japan's interests at the expense of Korea's.Sebald's Views of Japan: Enchantment and Anti-communism
Sebald was openly pro-Japanese as well as a fervent anti-communist who had become captivated by the Japanese people and their culture. Sebald lived in Japan during the final years of the so-called "Daisho democracy," which had been regarded as a period when democracy and freedom blossomed in Japan. In his eyes, Japan was a modern, civilized, and compassionate country that boasted clean and well-organized cities, an orderly society, and kind and diligent people, as well as a sincere and thrifty social environment. In this vein, Sebald stated in his memoirs: "Twenty years of direct and indirect contact and years of study of Japan's language, history, and culture had given me unique knowledge of Japan and its people" (Sebald memoirs, p. 23).
As previously mentioned, Sebald married a British-Japanese woman and became acquainted with many leading figures in Japan. In his capacity as U.S. political reporter immediately after the war, Sebald maintained a close relationship with right-wing political leaders. He also exhorted his staff to meet as many Japanese as possible, particularly in government, the professions, and business, and those who had been purged by SCAP (Sebald memoirs, p. 66). He became personally acquainted with members of Japan's royal family, high-ranking military officers, and politicians, including Nomura Kichisaburo, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and admiral at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; Prince Takamatsu, the younger brother of Hirohito; and Kurusu Saburo, special envoy to the United States at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sebald regarded the then Japanese ambassador to the United States Shidehara Kijuro, and Yoshida Shigeru as members of the Japanese elite, while noting: "These patriotic Japanese were among our good friends" (Sebald memoirs, p. 67).
Based on these perceptions of Japan and the Japanese people, Sebald became obsessed with the thought that Japan's militarists were to blame for the Pacific War and not the country's political, economic, and ideological deficiencies.
He described in his memoirs (p. 20): "As the great American war machine drove ever closer to Japan and began direct air and sea bombardment of the islands once believed invulnerable from foreign assault, I began to think more frequently of the smiling villagers and the gentle people which form the backbone of that nation. The people had been enslaved by fanatical and arrogant militarists and a relative handful of their supporters; then had been driven into a war which the country as a whole neither wanted nor was equipped to fight."
However, Sebald showed little interest in identifying these militarists and the handful of their supporters, or in how the war criminals should be punished. Nor was he overly concerned with how to deal with the ideology of the Japanese imperial system, Shintoism (Japan's national religion), Japan's monopolistic zaibatsu, or the exploitation of its former colonies.
Sebald even lavishly praised the Japanese Emperor, who was himself a war criminal. When Sebald and his wife visited Hirohito at Hayama Palace in 1946, the latter did them a special favor by allowing them to use a "more familiar form of everyday conversational Japanese instead of the difficult and stilted court language." He described his meeting with the royal couple in his memoirs as follows: "We discovered that our hosts were two simple, charming people who had adapted themselves to the new Japan and the complexities brought on by the presence of an Allied military occupation. Edith and I were tremendously impressed by the simplicity and unassuming manner of the royal couple, their interest in and curiosity concerning the everyday occurrences in the so-remote world about them" (Sebald memoirs, p. 68-69).
Furthermore, Sebald was opposed to the purging of Japanese war criminals and reform of the zaibatsu system, believing that communists were behind such efforts. In spite of Japanese opposition, purges were carried out in the political, military, economic, media, education, and judicial sectors as part of the process of democratizing the country. In this regard, the Government Section of the SCAP purged 201,815 of the 717,415 Japanese who were subjected to screening (Sebald memoirs, p. 86). While conceding that the issue of purges was a political matter of grave concern to the State Department, Sebald was nevertheless highly critical of the Government Section for not having discussed such purges with the POLADs or the Diplomatic Section. He also believed that the release of known communist elements at the end of 1945 and subsequent purge of rightists only served to increase the communist threat in Japan.
Moreover, Sebald emphasized the fact that the zaibatsu system was part of the intrinsic nature of Japan's business sector, and as such the business entities could not be regarded as war criminals. He was also opposed to the dismantling of the zaibatsu on the grounds that such a move was not only being pushed by Washington, but the Soviet Union as well. Sebald also thought that the reforms being pursued were counterproductive in nature (Sebald memoirs, p. 89).
Believing that Japan should serve as a bulwark of anti-communism in Asia, from 1946, Sebald started to serve as a mouthpiece for political and business leaders by openly expressing his concern about the potential communization of Japan (Sebald memoirs, p. 44-45). He also agreed with the claims of Japanese rightists that SCAP and the United States were encouraging the rise of radical leftism and communism in Japan. Among those who conveyed their concern about the spread of communism in Japan to Sebald were members of the royal family, such as Prince Takamatsu, and court officials like Terasaki Hidenari, a graduate of Brown University who married an American. Terasaki served as an adviser to SCAP and a liaison to the Emperor (Sebald memoirs, p. 47, 96-97).
Sebald used the alleged communist infiltration of Japan, orchestrated by the Soviet Union, to justify his pro-Japanese stance. In this regard, the most significant position he held at that time was as chairman of the U.S. Allied Council for Japan. In accordance with MacArthur’s own viewpoint, Sebald began to use this position to disseminate anti-communist propaganda. While the Soviet Union was critical of the occupation forces’ interference in the labor movement, as well as matters related to basic labor laws, compensation, land reform, and revision of the national public service law, Sebald spared no efforts in launching an offensive against the Soviet Union’s refusal to allow Japanese civilians and soldiers to return to Japan after the war. Immediately upon his ascension to the post of Chairman of the U.S.Allied Council for Japan, Sebald started to campaign against the Soviet Union, while claiming during a council meeting held on October 29 that the Soviet Union was still detaining 761,000 Japanese POWs (Sebald memoirs, p. 138-149).
This issue of detained Japanese soldiers and civilians became the foundation of his campaign against the Soviet Union in 1949-50. As part of these efforts, Sebald claimed that a total of 374,000 Japanese soldiers were still being detained in the Soviet Union, as of 1948, and that among these thousands were being indoctrinated to become communists. This Sebald-led offensive also involved the display of letters, postcards, and petitions sent by the families of these missing POWs and civilians in the council's conference room (Sebald memoirs, p. 138-149). These actions were in large part responsible for the demonstration, involving some 400 Japanese nationals, staged as a protest of the Soviet Union in December 1949 in front of the hotel where the Soviet delegation was staying. Moreover, his campaign against the Soviet Union resulted in Moscow's boycott of all council activities for a six-month period in 1950.
This anti-Soviet campaign was carried out with the full support of MacArthur, who was a staunch anti-communist as well, and was closely associated with the efforts to establish a new direction for Japan. In this regard, Sebald even claimed that the proceedings related to Japan's supposed biological warfare at the war crimes court in Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East would uncover nothing but fabricated accounts.
His pro-Japanese penchant reached a peak with the creation of Japan's self-defense forces at the start of the Korean War. In July 1950, when MacArthur allowed Japan to organize a 75,000-man national police reserve force and to increase its coast guard by 8,000 men, Sebald contended: "Probably the greatest help which Japan gave to the United Nations and to SCAP at this time was its prompt agreement to establish an internal security force (Sebald memoir, p. 197). This national police reserve force, which eventually evolved into Japan's self-defense forces, was thus actually created by the United States. Sebald is also on record as saying that he "was struck by the zest of the drills, the high morale, and the energy demonstrated by officers and men" when he visited one of the self-defense forces' training camps (Sebald memoirs, p. 198).
Sebald regarded Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, who was known as "Mr. Conservative" and an example of "one-man politics," as the most capable of politicians. Yoshida, who served two separate terms as Prime Minister, was in power for a total of seven years and two months, from May 1946 to May 1947, when the focus was on the restoration of Japan, and from October 1948 to December 1954, during which time the Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed. Sebald once referred to him as a "Japanese Churchill" (Sebald memoir, p. 96-98).
On the other hand, his perceptions of Korea were quite the opposite. Sebald wrote: "From the thirties, when I had crossed the country six times, I had retained the impression of Korea as a nation of sad people - oppressed, unhappy, poor, silent, and sullen. The postwar circumstances and President Rhee's harsh character made the Koreans even more flinty and trying for a number of United States political advisers to the American commanding general. These men and other United States officials assigned to Korea visited our POLAD office during their various trips through Tokyo, and we came to know them well" (Sebald memoir, p. 181).
Of course, Sebald was not the only individual with a distrust of Korea and its political leaders. John J. Muccio, the first U.S. ambassador to Korea, as well as U.S. military intelligence officials stationed in Korea, believed that Rhee Syngman was a dictator with a penchant for fascism. While both Rhee and Yoshida were conservatives, as well as staunch anti-communists, the former was a political exile and member of Korea's provisional government that had demanded Korean independence, while the latter was a cultured diplomat. Overall, Sebald's extreme orientalism-based bias, vis-à-vis Korea, led to a significant disparity in the U.S. attitude toward Korea and Japan.
Sebald did not refrain from making known his contempt for the Korean mission in Japan. He had the following to say about the Korean diplomats who asked for Sebald_ help in handling problems within the Korean community in Japan: "Unfortunately, a succession of heads of the mission for the Republic of Korea, with one exception, vied with each other in terms of their ineptness and mediocrity. The exception was Chung Ham Pun, who carried the rank of ambassador. Educated in the United States, Chung spoke English with a Boston accent of Peby the zest of the drills, the high morale, and the energy demonstrated by officers and mene Shin Sung Mo, during the latter's visit to Japan in October 1949, saying that he doubted that Shin, who had once been the captain of a British merchant ship, was qualified to serve in his post (Sebald memoirs, p. 182).Role of Sebald in the Territorial Dispute over DokdoSebald's Role in Japan's Preparations for the Treaty of San Francisco
The Japanese government began to prepare for an eventual peace treaty right after its defeat in the war. From the fall of 1945, Yoshida Shigeru, who served as Foreign Minister of the Shidehara cabinet, along with foreign ministry diplomats, Shigemitsu Mamoru and Ashida Hitoshi, began to implore the heads of the Treaty and Political Departments that they assure that Japan would avoid the harsh fate that befell Germany following World War I, in the form of the Versailles Treaty of 1919. Having participated in the Paris peace conference as diplomats, they advised the heads of these departments to avoid a "forcefully imposed peace."
Accordingly, an Executive Committee for Research on a Peace Treaty was established on November 21, 1945 within the Foreign Ministry. While the director of this committee was, Sugihara Arata, the head of the Treaty Department, the committee consisted of the heads of the political, economic, treaty, investigation, management, and general affairs departments, with Shimoda Takeso, the head of the Foreign Ministry's Treaty Department I, serving as the executive secretary. The responsibilities of this Executive Committee included the undertaking of preparatory research on an eventual peace treaty, a division of tasks and the posting of the necessary personnel, and the formulation of unofficial reports for executive meetings, the Vice Foreign Minister, and the Foreign Minister.
The Executive Committee was also responsible for thoroughly preparing for an eventual peace treaty. The research and the drafts of the peace treaty prepared by the Foreign Ministry were carried out in four different stages. The initial Executive Committee meeting held in January 1946 was followed by decision-making on relevant research subjects. The selected subjects for papers included four on general issues related to "Japan's basic strategies regarding the signing of a peace treaty," six on the political consequences of such a treaty, and seven on economic matters. After deliberating on these matters on 16 occasions, the 1st Report of the Executive Committee for Research on a Peace Treaty was published.
This report outlined Japan’s basic strategies regarding the signing of a peace treaty, the necessary preparatory steps which would have to be taken to set the stage for such a treaty, basic principles, a comparison and analysis of the Allied Powers’proposals and Japan’s own desired outcomes, and the formulation of countermeasures to deal with any foreseeable discrepancies between Japan’s proposals and those of the Allied Powers on political and economic issues. The Executive Committee placed much importance on territorial issues as well as the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty and war reparations. The committee used the contents of the armistice and peace treaties signed by the Allied Nations with Germany and Italy in order to identify and delve into a variety of possible situations that Japan could face while concluding a peace treaty.
The committee members were also greatly preoccupied with finding ways to expand Japanese territory. In particular, they developed a theory that in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, in which the Allied Powers declared that they had no intention of seeking the expansion of their own territory, Japan should have, what were considered its territories prior to the war, returned to its control. During this period, Executive Secretary Shimoda frequently visited the offices of Sebald, who was then a political adviser on Japan, and a de facto U.S. charg_ d'affaires in Japan. Shimoda is even said to have secretly delivered the Executive Committee's report to Sebald in the dead of the night. Shimoda recalled: "The report, related to all aspects of a peace treaty, consisted of dozens of volumes containing tens of thousands of words. Accordingly, the U.S. government must have received these materials and then used them as reference sources during the crafting of the rough draft of the Treaty of Peace with Japan."
For his part, Yoshida recalled: "I was of a mindset that it was necessary for us to do something during the drafting of the treaty to ensure a favorable outcome for Japan. In particular, I believed that it was important to do our utmost to ensure that the Allied Powers did not wrongly interpret the meaning of the passage 'territories which it had taken by violence and greed' contained in the Potsdam Declaration. In this regard, the report contained an enormous amount of data, with seven volumes on territorial matters alone."
The territorial issues that the report dealt with included Okinawa, Hokkaido, the Kurile Islands, Habomai, and Ogasawara. The person in charge of conducting a thorough investigation of all the facts related to such territorial matters, prior to the filing of the report, was an expert on treaties, Kawakami Kenzo who worked for the Treaty Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Shimoda claimed: "SCAP was hesitant until 1946 to accept any Japanese-prepared documents on the proposed peace treaty in deference to the opinions of the Soviet Union and other allied powers; however, as the U.S-Soviet confrontation intensified, Washington began to recognize the value of these documents and eventually came to accept them."
As the U.S. State Department and MacArthur stressed the need for a peace treaty with Japan to be signed at the earliest possible date, the Japanese government undertook efforts in early 1947 to establish contact with the Allied Powers through various channels. Their objectives were two-fold: First, to find ways to initiate negotiations with the Allied Powers in order to avoid a _orcefully imposed peacecutive Committee's report to Sebald in the dead of the night. Shimoda recalled: "The report, related to all aspects of a peace trea had been widely supported during the early stages of the Allied occupation of Japan and at the onset of the Cold War, was open to negotiation. In July and August 1947, Japanese Foreign Minister Ashida held meetings with George Atcheson, the Head of the Diplomatic Section of SCAP, Whitney, the Head of the Civilian Political Section of SCAP, and W. McMahon Ball, the Commonwealth delegate to the Allied Council for Japan, during which time he presented a file containing nine proposals that the Japanese government hoped would be included in the treaty negotiations. However, Atcheson and Whitney, both of whom strongly supported the democratization of Japan, refused to accept this file.
With the Foreign Ministry's efforts to contact the United States through SCAP having failed, Sebald decided to intervene. On September 20, 1947, he relayed a message to Washington from the Japanese Emperor himself that had been forwarded to him by a Foreign Ministry official assigned to the royal family. The Emperor's message indicated that Japan would allow the United States to lease lands on Okinawa for a 25- to 50-year period. The Japanese Emperor had already told MacArthur during their fourth meeting (May 6, 1947) that he believed that the United States, and not the United Nations, or the Far East Committee, should be directly responsible for the security of Japan.
After having succeeded Atcheson, Sebald began to actively pursue the conclusion of a peace treaty that would be beneficial to Japan. Claiming that strong support from Japan's political parties would be essential for the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan, Sebald arranged for U.S. special envoy Dulles to meet with Japanese political party leaders on four different occasions in February 1951, thereby bringing the Japanese position to the forefront. When no progress was made during the meetings between Yoshida and Dulles, Sebald emphasized the urgent need to conclude a peace treaty through his friend Kazuo Okazaki, the chief secretary of the Japanese cabinet. This prompted Yoshida to appoint a foreign ministry official, Iguchi Sadao, as deputy-minister in charge of treaty negotiations.
April 1951 marked a watershed period in terms of Korea's interests related to the Treaty of Peace with Japan. The United States, while aware of Korea's political status, had to this point intended to have Korea participate in the negotiations and sign the treaty. In spite of the fact that the United Kingdom and Japan were opposed to Korea's participation, since Korea was not a member of the Allied Powers who had declared war against Japan, the United States remained steadfast on this point. However, in a meeting held during the second visit of Dulles to Tokyo (April 7-23, 1951), Yoshida Shigeru described the ethnic Korean residents in Japan as communists and criminals, while arguing that if Korea were allowed to participate in the treaty process, these untoward Koreans would stand to benefit while Japan would be exposed to serious political and economic consequences. In the end, Dulles and the U.S. State Department accepted this Japanese position.
Around this time, the United Kingdom completed its own draft of a peace treaty (April 7, 1951), and duly notified the U.S. government of this fact. "Dulles' last day in Japan, April 23, 1951, was devoted to an intensive review of a British draft treaty we had just received" (Sebald memoirs, p. 266). According to Sebald, Dulles had a conference lasting for several hours in Sebald's office with Prime Minister Yoshida, Vice Foreign Minister Iguchi Sadao, and Nishimura Kumao, the knowledgeable head of the Japanese Treaty Bureau of the Foreign Ministry and a skilled technician. The Japanese, who had been given a copy of the British draft preferred the American version to the technically and comprehensive United Kingdom document" (Sebald memoirs, p. 266).
The British draft of the treaty included a map that identified Japanese territory. The map that I found at the U.S National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is significant for several reasons. First, it is the only map prepared in conjunction with the San Francisco conference. The United States as well as the other members of the Allied Powers never prepared an official map, and no official map was incorporated into the Treaty of Peace with Japan that was signed in San Francisco. Accordingly, this was the only map officially recognized by the United Kingdom, a key member of the Allied Powers and the closest ally of the United States, during the preparations and eventual conclusion of the peace treaty. Second, this map clearly identifies Dokdo as being outside of Japanese territory and within the Korean territorial boundry, as delineated by a bold line, thus effectively putting an end to all conflicting claims to Dokdo.
Third, and most significantly, the United Kingdom openly corrected a mistake contained in a previous draft of the treaty, in which Dokdo was described as Japanese territory, by recognizing it as Korean territory in the final version of the draft. The British government presented a first draft of the treaty (February 28, 1951) in which Ulleungdo and Jejudo as well as Dokdo were included as part of Japan. As indicated by its description of Liancourt Rocks, the international name for Dokdo, as Miancourt, the first British draft was only a _ery rough and preliminary draft. Accordingly, this was the only map officially recognized by the United Kingdom, a key member of the Allied Powers and the closest ally of the United States, during the preparations and eventual conclusion of the peace treaty with Japan. Having clarified the above-mentioned territorial matters in March 1951, a map was finalized accordingly and attached to the final draft submitted to the U.S. government.
Sebald and Dulles heatedly debated the British draft. The Japanese were opposed to the British draft on the grounds that it created the psychological disadvantage of seeming to fence Japan in by drawing a continuous line around Japan. Meanwhile, the Japanese government was also actively seeking to persuade the United States of the validity of its claims. Given these circumstances, it is highly likely that Sebald played an instrumental role in helping Japan to achieve its objectives. As the United States stood to gain the most from the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan, which would effectively exclude the Soviet Union from Japan while Tokyo was willing to grant the lease of land on Okinawa for the establishment of U.S. military bases, Washington began to pay more attention to Japanese interests in regard to such issues as war reparations, national security, and territorial matters.
None of the three countries - Korea, the U.S.S.R., and China - which were involved in territorial disputes with Japan related to Dokdo, the Four Northern Islands, or the Senkaku Archipelago, were invited to participate in the San Francisco Peace Conference. Had the British draft been accepted, Korea's now seemingly never-ending territorial dispute with Japan would have been clearly resolved. In addition, Sebald strenuously opposed the British demand that a _ar guilt countries - Korea, the U.S.S.R., and China - which were involved in territorial disputes with Japan related to Dokdo, the Four Northern Islands, or the Senkaku Archipelago, were invited to participate in the San Francisco Peace Conference. Had the British draft been accepted, Korea's now seemingly never-ending territorial dispute with Japan would have been clearly resolved. In addition, Sebald strenuously opposed the British demandention to Japanese interests in regard to such issues as warsion being read simultaneously by an interpreter (Sebald memoirs, p. 278-279).Sebald's Influence on the San Francisco Peace Treaty
The first through fifth U.S. drafts of the treaty excluded Dokdo from the list of Japanese territories and specifically identified it as Korean territory. The fifth U.S. draft, which was prepared on November 2, 1949, and was intended to be distributed to U.S. embassies abroad, also specified that Jejudo, Ulleungdo, and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo) were part of Korean territory, while excluding these islands from the list of Japanese territories.
Upon its receipt of the fifth U.S. draft, the Japanese government launched intensive lobbying efforts of its own through Sebald. In a telegram that he sent from Tokyo to W. Walton Butterworth, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (November 14, 1949), Sebald recommended: "the decision of the Allied Powers on Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima) be reconsidered," in stating: "Japan's claim to these islands is old and appears valid. Security considerations might conceivably envisage weather and radar stations thereon.ng efforts of its own through Sebald. In a telegram that he sent from Tokyo to W. Walton Butterworth, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (November 14, 1949), Sebald recommended: "the decision of the Allied Powers on Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima) be reconsidered," in stating: "Japan's claim to these islands is old and appears vah demandention to Japanese interests in regard to such issues as washore of Korea." As a result, in Article 3 of the sixth U.S. draft, presented on December 29, 1949, Takeshima (Liancourt Rocks) was included as a part of Japan, with this version of the draft becoming the future basis for the delineation of territorial waters as well.
The following reasons were outlined in the Commentary on the Draft Treaty of Peace with Japan prepared in July 1950 to explain the decision to transfer sovereignty over Dokdo (Liancourt Rocks, Takeshima) to Japan:
"The two uninhabited islets of Takeshima, almost equidistant from Japan and Korea in the Japan Sea, were formally claimed by Japan in 1905, apparently without protest by Korea, and placed under the Jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Shimane Prefecture.
"They are a breeding ground for sea lions, and records show that for a long time Japanese fishermen migrated there during certain seasons.
"Unlike Dagelet Island a short distance to the west, Takeshima has no Korean name and does not appear ever to have been claimed by Korea. The islands have been used by U.S. forces during the occupation as a bombing range and have possible value as a weather or radar station site."
This commentary, prepared by U.S. government officials, perfectly mirrored the claims of Sebald and Japan that Dokdo was not only a part of Japanese territory, but that it could be used by the United States as a radar or weather station. While clauses dealing with the territorial dispute between Korea and Japan were deleted from the seventh U.S. draft of the peace treaty with Japan and thereafter (August 7, 1950), it seems clear that Sebald's comments about Dokdo, which he expressed in November 1949, influenced the U.S State Department's stance about its ownership.
No documents are available which clearly explain why Sebald believed that Dokdo was part of Japanese territory. However, his close relations with Shimoda appear to have allowed him to gain useful insight into the measures that Japan undertook in preparation for the peace conference, particularly in regard to Japan's territorial claims. Moreover, his pro-Japanese sentiments were no doubt a factor as well. Of particular note, his views were identical to the Japanese claims presented by Kawakami of the Japanese Treaty Bureau, who claimed that Dokdo had been incorporated as part of Shimane Prefecture prior to Japan's annexation of Korea in 1905.
In addition, Sebald may well have obtained pertinent information from informal channels, such as the Executive Committee for Research on a Peace Treaty, as well as formal sources, including Japan's Foreign Ministry.
Article 8 of the Potsdam Declaration stipulated that the Japanese territory was to be defined as follows: "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we determine." As a result, the Japanese government launched all-out lobbying efforts to have the Kurile Islands, Okinawa, and Ogasawara included as part of the territory of Japan. In conjunction with these efforts, the Japanese government in 1946-47 published a four-volume series of publicity papers, which specified Japanese claims to several islands: Volume 1: The Kurile Islands, the Habomais, and Shikotan (November, 1946); Volume 2: Ryukyu and other Nansei Islands (March 1947); Volume 3: Bonin Island Group and Volcano Island Group (March 1947); and Volume 4: Minor Islands in the Pacific, and Minor Islands in the Japan Sea (June 1947). As such, the order in which the Japanese government published the volumes reflected the relative significance placed on the subject islands.
Volume 1 dealt with the four disputed islands north of Sakhalin which the Soviet Union also claimed; Volume 2 with the Ryukyu Islands which were placed under the trusteeship of the United States in 1951; Volume 3 with Ogasawara and Iwo Jima; and Volume 4 with islands in the Pacific Ocean and East Sea, including Dokdo and Ulleungdo. In this way, Japan sought to claim that Dokdo and Ulleungdo were an integral part of its territory. Consisting of 16 pages, including the cover and two maps, Volume 4 contained five pages of text and two maps dealing with Dokdo and Ulleungdo. On both of the maps, the Japanese Foreign Ministry had indicated that these two islands belonged to Japan. The contents of this volume were cited almost verbatim in Sebald's telegram (November 1949), which as mentioned above had a direct impact on the sixth U.S. draft of the peace treaty with Japan.
Japan has long argued that its recognition of Liancourt Rocks predated the modern era. However, the first record that confirms Japanese knowledge of Dokdo is the Onshu shicho goku (Records on Observation in Oki Province) published in 1667:“...The Liancourt Rocks became known to Europeans in 1849 when the French whaler Liancourt, after which the island was named, found the island....” Here, attention should be focused on Japan’s claims there was no Korean name for Liancourt Rocks, when Dagelet (Ulleungdo) did in fact have a Korean name, and that these islands did not appear on any Korean maps.On February 22, 1905, the governor of Shimane Prefecture enacted Ordinance No. 87, which declared that Liancourt Rocks belonged to the Oki Islands District of Shimane Prefecture.
The claims made by Japan's Foreign Ministry that, unlike Dagelet Island, Liancourt Rocks did not have a Korean name and that they did not appear on Korean maps are not true. However, these untruths did serve to influence the views of the U.S. State Department on Dokdo's ownership. From May to July 1951, the period immediately preceding the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, a geography specialist, S.W. Boggs, who worked for the Office of Information Resources (OIR) of the U.S. State Department recorded the relevant "facts," based on citations from Japan's above-mentioned Volume 4, including the points that Dokdo had been claimed by Japan Department on Dokdo's ownership. 47). As such, the order in which the Japanese goveid not have a Korean name, this was not the case with Dagelet (Ulleungdo).
As part of his efforts to lobby for and promote the Japanese position on Dokdo, Sebald relayed distorted information about Dokdo to the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the Korean government and its people, unaware that Dokdo was the target of Japanese lobbying efforts during the negotiations leading up to the peace treaty, failed to take proper measures to counter Japan's diplomatic maneuvering. What's more, the Korean government failed to provide the United States and other members of the Allied Powers with accurate information and reliable data on the Dokdo issue. Under such circumstances, it was only natural that the U.S. State Department made the mistake of siding with the Japanese position.
In addition to his support for the Japanese claim to Dokdo, Sebald also stated that such an outcome would be desirable for the United States from a national security standpoint, as U.S. weather and radar stations could be installed on the island. Under SCAPIN No. 1778, Dokdo was designated as a bombing range, which resulted in damages to some ships and residents of Ulleungdo due to a U.S. bombing exercise conducted on June 9, 1948. As such, these national security considerations suggested by Sebald may have been a reflection of the general opinion of SCAP as well. However, based on the fact that the primary reason why Japan sought to incorporate Dokdo into its territory in 1905 was to install an observation facility there in order to monitor the activities of the Russian fleet during the Russo-Japanese War, there is a strong likelihood that the idea of installing weather and radar stations on Dokdo actually originated from the Japanese government.
This Japanese effort to have Dokdo recognized as a part of Japan, by offering to make the Dokdo site available to the U.S. military, was undertaken on an elaborate scale. During the 10th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Japanese Diet (February 6, 1951), Yamamoto Toshinaga, a member of the Democratic Party from Shimane Prefecture, called for Japan to implement "special measures" the Dokdo site available to the U.S. military, was undertaken on an elaborate scale. During the 10th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Japanese Diet (February 6, 1951), Yamamoto Toshinaga, a member of the DeCAP as well. However, based on the fact that the primary reason why Japan sought to incorporate Dokdo into its territory in 1905 was to install an observation facility there in order to monitor the acti the people's opinions. However, he stressed a need for the people to "understand whatever action the government takes," as these "special measures" involved the potential destruction of Dokdo due to its designation as a bombing range.
During the 13th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee (May 23, 1952), Yamamoto Toshinaga asked: "Is there any truth to the rumor that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to designate Takeshima and the adjacent areas as a bombing range based on a belief that this will make it easier to have these areas recognized as part of Japanese territory?" To this, the Vice Minister of Political Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Isahara responded: "All in all, that is the general aim that is being pursued."
The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. military and the Japanese government came into effect as part of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that was concluded between Japan and the United States in 1951. In turn, a U.S.-Japan Joint Committee was created to oversee the implementation of the SOFA agreement. On July 26, 1952, the Joint Committee reached an Agreement on Military Facilities and Areas, under which, in accordance with the Foreign Ministry's intent, Takeshima was recognized as part of Japanese territory that could be used by the U.S. military as a bombing range. Then in September 1952, the Dokdo bombing incident occurred. As a result of the vociferous complaints of the residents of Shimane Prefecture, the Japanese government, through a subcommittee of the Joint Committee, reached a decision on March 19, 1953 that Takeshima would be excluded from the list of areas which the U.S. Air Force could use for bombing exercises.
Shortly before this decision was reached, during a joint session of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Subcommittees of the Japanese Senate (March 5, 1953), the Head of the Treaty Bureau of the Foreign Ministry Shimoda clarified: "The measures that have been taken are intended to establish the legal basis for the Japanese claim to Takeshima.ly before this decision was reached, during a joint session of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Subcommittees of the Japanese Senate (March 5, 1953), the Head of the Treaty Bureau of the Foreign Ministry Shimoda clarified: "The measures that have been taken are intended to establish the legal basis for the Japanese claim to Takeser 1952, the Dokdo bombing incident occurred. As a result of the vociferous complaints of the residents of Shimane Prefecture, the Japanese government, through a subcommittee a bombing range, and of course through Sebald's personal lobbying efforts.
Unbeknownst to Korea, Japan actively lobbied the United States through Sebald to have Dokdo recognized as part of its territory well before the establishment of the Republic of Korea by such means as spreading inaccurate information and actively engaging in various intrigue. Sebald's willingness to advocate the Japanese position on this territorial dispute with the U.S. State Department was based on his conviction that Dokdo was indeed a part of Japan.
In addition, when the Dokdo issue became a flashpoint between Japan and Korea as a result of the declaration of the Rhee Syngman Line in 1952, Sebald expressed his opinion that Japan's rightful claim to Dokdo was clearly spelled out in the San Francisco Peace Treaty. As such, there can be little doubt that Sebald was convinced that Dokdo was an integral part of Japan. Nevertheless, he maintained that the Dokdo issue should be resolved through direct negotiations between Korea and Japan, rather than the Allied Powers or SCAP.
In November 1954, when Japan's Embassy Minister in Washington, D.C., Shigenobu Shima asked Sebald, who was then serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, about the U.S. stance on the possibility of Japan taking up its Dokdo claim with the International Court of Justice through the U.N. Security Council, Sebald suggested that a bilateral settlement of the issue was a more desirable option than taking the matter to the International Court of Justice. However, he also advised the minister to "continuously claim Japanese rights through a steady exchange of memoranda of understanding or submittal of other relevant documents to the Korean government, lest Japanese territorial rights be rescinded due to negligence."Uneasy Start to Korea-Japan Relations after the Pacific War
The conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951 marked the starting point for Korea-Japan relations after the Pacific War. During the process leading up to the conclusion of this treaty, major issues of contention emerged between the two countries. These included: whether Korea should participate in the San Francisco Peace Conference, which was directly related to Korea's status vis-_-vis the Allied Powers; the legal status of ethnic Korean residents in Japan; territorial issues (Dokdo); and the framework and agenda for future Korea-Japan meetings.
At the time of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Sebald further endeavored to promote Japan's interests, in regard to the above-mentioned contentious issues, by making the Japanese views known to the U.S. State Department while also emphatically presenting his personal views on these matters.
He contended: "there were some 600,000 Korean residents in Japan, many of whom were Communists and anti-Rhee (Sebald memoirs, p. 71). This was not only the opinion of Sebald but also that of Japanese ultra-rightists and the Japanese government as well, which conveyed these views to the MacArthur headquarters through Yoshida Shigeru.
Sebald's influence over Korea-Japan relations reached a peak during the debate over the course of Korea-Japan meetings. Sensitive issues that needed to be addressed included: the format of the meetings (bilateral or multilateral), role of SCAP and/or the U.S. government in the talks, and the setting of a meeting agenda. Sebald effectively deprived Korea of an opportunity to successfully promote its interests by asserting that these contentious issues should be resolved within the framework of bilateral negotiations, along with opposing any U.S. role as a mediator or participant. As Lee Jong-won has pointed out, it is evident that Sebald's position was in keeping with the Japanese approach based on the fact that while the Korean government demanded U.S. participation in the negotiations, the Japanese government displayed an altogether passive stance toward the talks.
The initial Korea-Japan meeting was convened on October 20, 1951 in the conference room of the SCAP Diplomatic Section. Sebald claimed that while Iguchi Sadao, the chief Japanese negotiator, opened with _ conciliatory and friendly statement,nce room of the SCAP Diplomatic Section. Sebald claimed that while Iguchi Sadao, thproach based on the fact that while the Korean government demanded U.S. participation in the negotiations, the Japanese government displayed an altogether passive stance toward the talks.
The initial Korea-Japan meeting was convened on October 20, 1951 in the conference room of the SCAP Diplomatic Section. Sebald claimed that while Iguchi Sadao, the chief Japanese negotiator, opened with “a conciliatory and friendly statement,”Yang You Chan, the then ambassador to the United States and Korea’s chief negotiator, delivered a “scorching indictment of Japanese actions in Korea for the previous forty years,” and demanded payment of “an indemnity so huge that it would have bankrupted Japan,” and that the “conference slowly collapsed after futile attempts to agree upon an agenda” (Sebald memoirs, p. 287). Sebald also pointed out that Yang could hardly expect Japan’s cooperation by exhibiting such an antagonistic attitude.
With the end of World War II, Korea was liberated from the yoke of Japan's colonial rule. However, the country soon found itself divided into a Soviet-occupied North and a U.S.-occupied South, with military authorities ruling both Koreas. After three years of military rule, the Republic of Korea was established in 1948. While under military rule, the sovereignty of the Korean people was not recognized and the country was not free to determine its own diplomatic course, which resulted in Korea's interests not being duly recognized in the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The major powers' view of Korea at this time was evident from the United Kingdom's remark that the simple recognition of Korea's independence was all that Korea could hope for. This was the standing of Korea within the international community in 1951, while the Rhee Syngman government did not have any realistic means of rectifying this situation.
On the other hand, despite being guilty of committing war crimes, Japan was not divided nor fully subjected to military rule. Although SCAP did exercise an indirect form of control, Japanese politicians directly elected by the people were able to establish a cabinet system. Japanese sovereignty was recognized, and they retained the ability to conduct indirect diplomacy through SCAP. A central liaison office was even set up in 1945 to function as a conduit between the Japanese government and SCAP, with Okazaki Katsuo serving as secretary general and Shirasu Jiro as deputy director. Shirasu, a close associate of Yoshida, is a representative example of the Japanese nationals who harbored an intense resentment of Korea. Shirasu was known to have several friends in the Far East Section of the U.S. State Department, including Sebald.
Most Koreans think that Dokdo is an issue that concerns only Korea and Japan, and that it is a matter related to historical and territorial rights. On the surface, the Dokdo dispute can be said to have emerged immediately after Korea's declaration of the Rhee Syngman Line in January 1952, when the Tokyo government lodged a protest with the Seoul government. However, in reality, the Dokdo dispute does not have its origins in Korea-Japan relations, but instead is rooted in U.S.-Japan relations before and after the San Francisco Peace Conference of 1951.
The key decisions related to Dokdo were made by the United States, and not Korea or Japan. As a result of the decisions made by the United States in 1951, a basic framework for Korea-Japan relations, including the Dokdo issue, was established. The Japanese government was convinced that it had been successful in getting the U.S. government to recognize Dokdo as Japanese territory during the process leading up to the San Francisco Peace Conference. On the basis of this conviction it began to publicly lay claim to Dokdo. The United States adamantly supported the Japanese position on Dokdo until the mid-1950s. However, upon realizing that the Dokdo issue was a potential tinderbox that was capable of disrupting Korea-Japan, Korea-U.S., and Japan-U.S. relations, Washington began to feign a neutral position on this issue.
Was William J. Sebald a key policy-decision maker of the United States? The answer to this is a resounding no. He simply served as a conduit through which the U.S. State Department, the Supreme Command of the Allied Powers, and the Japanese government could communicate with each other. Based on this channel, Sebald managed to steer the direction of U.S. government policy in favor of Japan. This was the extent of his actual power.
During the period in which the Japanese government was not able to exercise its diplomatic sovereignty, Sebald emerged as the only functional channel for Japan-U.S. communication. During the 1949-51 period leading up to the Treaty of Peace with Japan, Sebald exerted all-out efforts to promote Japan's interests, before winding up his career as a regular diplomat.
He was not an influential figure within the MacArthur headquarters or at the U.S. State Department. Nor did he contribute much to the formation of U.S. policy toward Japan or the Far East. However, as a Japan specialist, he did contribute to the U.S. East Asia policy of designating Japan as its proxy in Northeast Asia. Initially, Sebald towed the line of MacArthur's pro-Japanese policy, openly backing Japan's interests eater on. While Sebald always considered U.S. interests in the conduct of his activities, he never did anything to promote Korea's interests. As a result of Sebald's activities, the United States was able to achieve its policy objectives, while Japan was able to protect its interests at the expense of Korea's, thereby causing Korea-Japan relations to fall into disarray. Consequently, while Sebald has been appreciated as a good friend of the Japanese, he has been reviled in Korea as an individual with pro-Japanese sentiments whose one-sided involvement has created the seemingly intractable Dokdo dispute.
[Yukbi, Critical Review of History, Vol.71, Summer 2005