Japan: Repatriationism of Cultural Property 197
X JEAIL 1 (2017)
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.
Repatriation, Cultural Property, Intertemporal Law, UNESCO Convention,
Joseon Wangsil Uigwe
Let bygones be bygones.
1 P. Duus, Introduction: History Wars in Postwar East Asia, 1945-2014, in ‘History Wars’ and reconciliation in
Japan and Korea: tHe roles of Historians, artists and activists 1-4 (M. Lewis ed., 2017).
: A Japanese
Perspective on the
∗ Professor of Law at Seikei University, Japan. LL.B./LL.M./Ph.D. (Tokyo). ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4738-
3489. The author will appreciate the comments by Keisuke Mark Abe and Koji Ito. He may be contacted at: sato@law.
seikei.ac.jp/Address: Faculty of Law, Seikei University, 3-3-1 Kichijoji-Kitamachi, Musashino, Tokyo 180-8633 Japan.