August 22nd 1910: Japan annexes Korea
On this day in 1910, Japan formally annexed Korea with the signing of the Japan-Korea Treaty. Signed by Prime Minister of the Korean Empire Lee Wan-yong and Japanese Resident General of Korea Count Terauchi Masatake, the treaty completed the process of dwindling Korean autonomy that had been furthered by other treaties since 1876. The treaty became effective on August 29th, a week after it was signed, on which day it was also officially promulgated to the public. This marks the beginning of the period of Japanese rule in Korea, during which time Koreans were expected to assimilate with Japanese culture and reject their own. Japanese colonial rule over Korea ended after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, at which time Korea became an independent nation. In 1965 the treaties between Japan and Korea before 1910 were declared “already null and void”, but a debate continues over whether they were ever legally valid. The legacy of Japanese colonialism remains a controversial one. Many Koreans are still resentful of the treaty, which they believe was invalid as it was forced upon the Koreans, and the years of brutal imperialism that followed. As for the Japanese, there are mixed messages of sincere apology and defiant justification of imperialism; therefore full reconciliation between the two nations is still not complete.