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

"Settled Completely and Finally": A Japanese Perspective on the Repatriationism of Cultural Property

Yoshiaki Sato
Faculty of Law, Seikei University, 3-3-1 Kichijoji-Kitamachi, Musashino, Tokyo 180-8633 Japan.
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.


This article focuses on the Korean claim for repatriation of cultural property currently located in Japan. Through an analysis of the relevant rules of international law, it demonstrates the established norm that the predecessor state is not obliged to repatriate the cultural property acquired in and exported from the annexed territory. It further shows that, even if Japan had not annexed the Empire of Korea and just occupied it, the repatriationists' claim would not hold water, as the question has been conclusively settled by a bilateral agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea. Considering that the parties to a settlement should refrain from subsequently relitigating the matter, the author concludes that cultural property, which can be a powerful ambassador for promoting mutual understanding, should be dealt with in the framework of forward-looking cooperation, including mutual loans and possibly the creation of a multinational museum.

Keywords : Repatriation, Cultural Property, Intertemporal Law, UNESCO Convention, Joseon Wangsil Uigwe

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