A Timeline of U.S. Action and Dokdo – Takeshima

Post WWII U.S. Policy Toward Dokdo (Takeshima) Through Official Goverment Records
Mark LovemoThe following article was written by American, Mark Lovemo. Currently a teacher at a Minneapolis primary school, he now operates an independent website about Dokdo. Mr Lovemo’s website can be found at this ( link ) Often referred to as “The Original Dokdo Man”, Mr Lovmo was one of the first westerners to study the historical background and origins of the Dokdo – Takeshima problem.

To give the exposure Mr Lovmo’s article deserves, with his permission, we are posting it here and hope to have it translated into both Korean and Japanese. Having discovered many confidential documents, Mr Lovemo’s article remains one of the best-researched writings detailing Post WWII, U.S. Government-Military policy related to Dokdo – Takeshima.

To the reader: The majority of information provided on this webpage was obtained from File 322: “Liancourt Rocks”, from the Seoul Embassy Records, Record Group 84, the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Other sources include research by Cheong Sung-hwa, the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, and internet media sources.
September 1945 – Initial Allied Policy After Korean Liberation
September 1945: A map generated by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in September 1945 shows the initial setup of the occupation boundaries of different US military commands. Dokdo is shown within the US Sixth Army’s occupation zone, and outside of the Korea-based US XXIV Corps’ zone. The process by which SCAP determined these zones is unknown

This map of the initial occupation boundaries (right) was found among a collection of the first Instructions (SCAPINs) issued by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in September 1945.

September 27, 1945:
In an early instruction to the Government of Japan, SCAP states that Japanese should not be allowed to approach within 12 miles of Dokdo.

January 29, 1946 SCAP Instruction #677
January 29, 1946 SCAPIN 677 is Issued
This instruction defined the territorial boundaries of Japan, explicitly excluding Dokdo, cited as “Liancourt Rocks (Take Island)”. The occupation boundaries were therefore replaced by a new boundary, the so-called ´MacArthur Line´, which placed Dokdo within the Korea-based XXIV Corps´s area of responsibility.

This map (left) accompanied SCAPIN 677, which delimited the Japanese territorial sphere to the exclusion of Dokdo, and thereby creating the ´MacArthur Line´.

This policy of excluding Dokdo from Japanese fishing areas and administrative control was sustained throughout the occupation of Japan. Again, why and by what process the General Headquarters of SCAP decided to exclude Japanese involvement with Dokdo throughout the occupation is not known for certain. It is thought that perhaps SCAP GHQ used Japanese maps published by the Imperial Army to determine that Dokdo was outside Japan´s control.

June 22, 1946 SCAPIN 1033 is Issued.
This instruction extended the allowable areas for Japanese fishing, but again explicitly stated that Japanese were not to approach within 12 miles of Dokdo.

April 16, 1947
According to Korean eyewitnesses, aircraft used the Dokdo islets as a bombing target on this date. This is the earliest known account of the island used as an aerial target range.

September 16, 1947 SCAP issues Instruction #1778
Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo) is designated as a bombing range in this instruction to the Japanese government. It mentions that inhabitants of “all ports on the west coast of the island of Honshu north to the 38th parallel” in addition to Oki Island were to be notified prior to each use of the range.

It is still not clear why Japanese were warned of the use of the island when they were not allowed to be anywhere near the island, as per SCAPIN 1033. It is also not known if the occupation authorities in Korea knew about this order from SCAP, or if they had similarly warned Koreans.

The American use of Dokdo as a bombing range was part of a larger, world-wide US strategic initiative that came about with the formation of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) under the newly-minted United States Air Force in 1947. The new “Strategic Air Command Rotation Program” called for SAC bomber Groups to rotate through the Far East airbase on Okinawa on extended temporary duty deployments in an effort to keep aircrews “trained up” in operations involving forward deployments in case of war. The rotation program began at this time, and continued for decades. Dokdo was one of many islands throughout the Pacific that the US Air Force used in the late 1940s as bombing target in order to keep their pilots trained in bombing and strafing. SCAP General Headquarters evidently obliged the Air Force´s needs by officially designating the island as a bombing range.

September 23, 1947:
A monograph entitled, Part IV of “Minor Islands Adjacent to Japan Proper; Minor Islands in the Sea of Japan”, a treatise drafted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, is sent from the Diplomatic Section of SCAP to the US State Department in Washington. This monograph was the Japanese argument for sovereignty over both Ullungdo and Dokdo. Copies of the monograph were distributed to occupation authorities when the Japanese Foreign Ministry petitioned to SCAP over Japanese sovereignty concerns in June of this year. Upon receipt of this document, the State Department noted that it would be useful for future reference in case the disposition of the islands became an issue in a peace treaty with Japan.
In fact, the opinions stated in the Japanese monograph seem to have had a major influence on U.S. officials in the State Department´s Office of Northeast Asian Affairs. In particular, Directors Robert A. Feary and Kenneth T. Young Jr, and the head of the Diplomatic Section of SCAP, William J. Sebald, would later offer opinions that were very similar to statements in this 1947 document. As it turned out, the State Department gave a memorandum to the Korean Ambassador in Washington on August 10, 1951 which was based on soley on the information in “Minor Islands in the Sea of Japan”. The San Francisco Peace Treay was signed between Japan and the former Allied Powers in order to formally end the Pacific War and was to be pertinent to the sovereignty of Dokdo, as the treaty would deal with the territorial definitions of Japan and Korea. Another interesting fact about “Minor Islands in the Sea of Japan” is that the Korean government seemed not to have even known of the existence of this Japanese petition until decades later.
March 25, 1948:
In a bombing exercise that foreshadows the events of the June 8, 1948 bombing incident, fourteen B-29s of the 22nd Bombardment Group flying out of Kadena Air Base on Okinawa use Dokdo as a bombing target. The bombing mission was reported in US Air Force documents as a high altitude, formation-bombing mission that achieved “excellent results”. The 22nd Bombardment Group soon left Okinawa for the continental United States, being replaced by the 93d Bombardment Group, which started arriving in May 1948 for a three-month deployment to the Far East. The 93d was the first Bombardment Group to do so under the SAC Rotation Program. Although the exact bomb-load used by the fourteen B-29s in this exercise is unknown, Air Force documents show that for the month of March 1948, the 22nd Bombardment Group expended hundreds of 100-pound and 500-pound General Purpose bombs, sixty 1,000-pound bombs, and 13,900 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition. No deaths or injuries are known to have resulted from this bombing, nor is it evident that the media or public were aware of this exercise at the time.

June 8, 1948:
Twenty-one B-29s of the US Air Force´s 93d Bombardment Group flying out of Kadena Air Base on Okinawa use Dokdo as a bombing target, dropping seventy-six 1,000-pound AN-M-65 bombs, killing a number of Korean fishermen who were at the islets. U.S. occupation forces in Korea issued a press release on June 17 stating that the B-29 crews could not see the Korean fishing boats at Dokdo, and that boats were discovered only after examining photographs taken 30 minutes after the bombing. (In an interview in 2002, a former bombardier of the 93d BG stated that he had seen fishing boats through his bomb-sight while flying over the target area during a bombing run on a small island on which he dropped bombs in the summer of 1948).

The government of the Republic of Korea stated in 1955 that around 30 Korean fishermen were killed in this incident, while survivors have said that many more, perhaps hundreds, died. Surviving fishermen and other residents of neighboring Ullung Island reported that they had been unaware that the island was a designated a bombing range.