JEAIL > Volume 10(1); 2017 > Regional Focus & Controversies
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2017

Article 2 of the Korea-Japan Basic Treaty and Japan's Repatriation of Korean Cultural Properties: Reviewing Travaux Préparatoires

Yuji Hosaka
Sejong University, 110 Gwanggaeto-gwan, 209 Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 05006 Korea.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Treaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan was signed as a result of Korea-Japan talks from October 1951 to June 1965. Article 2 of the Korea-Japan Basic Treaty stipulates the so-called “Article Related to the Former Treaties and Agreements.” A compromise was adopted with the term, “already null and void.” As regards this expression, Japan asserts that the period of Japanese occupation was once valid, while Korea maintains that it has been “fundamentally null and void.” So, the meaning does not change even if ‘already’ is inserted in the beginning. Korean cultural properties taken away to Japan during the period of Japanese occupation should all be returned to Korea, but Japan evaded the expression, ‘return’ until Korea referred to the term, ‘turn over’ as an intermediate expression between ‘return’ and ‘donation.’ The author believes that the more both sides mutually communicate with each other for universal value, the earlier they arrive at the final resolution for these issues under international law and justice.

Keywords : Korea-Japan Basic Treaty, the Former Treaties and Agreements, Already Null and Void, Cultural Properties, Return, Turn Over

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