Eulsa Treaty

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The Eulsa Treaty or Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty (Japanese: 第二次日韓協約 Dai-niji Nitcho Kyōyaku; Korean: 을사조약 Eulsa joyak), also referred to as the "Second Japan-Korea Agreement" was signed between the Empires of Japan and Korea on 17 November 1905. The name "Eulsa Treaty" treaty is derived from the Korean word "eulsa', which refers to the 42nd year of the sexagenary cycle.

Following the end of the Russo-Japanese War and the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth, in which Japan’s supremacy on the Korean peninsula was acknowledged by Russia, the Japanese statesman, Itō Hirobumi, presented Emperor Gojong with a draft of the Protectorate Treaty on 15 November 1905. He declared the contents to be final and non-revisable and insisted that the Emperor and his ministers accept its terms.

Faced with the disadvantage of having the Imperial palace occupied by Japanese Imperial Army troops, who were also deployed at strategic locations throughout the country, the Koreans were left with little alternative but to sign.

The treaty was signed on 17 November 1905, by the Korean minister of foreign affairs, Bak Je-sun, and the Japanese minister, Hayasi Konsuke. The Emperor Gojong and the Prime Minister, Han Gyu-seol refused to sign the treaty. This treaty transferred full authority over Korea’s diplomatic relations, as well as control over all trade through Korean ports, to Japan. This would be managed by a Japan-appointed Resident-General - the first being Ito Hirobumi, who was appointed in March, 1906. By signing the treaty, Korea was deprived of its diplomatic sovereignty and became a protectorate of Japan.[1]

This treaty was later stated as being "already null and void" in Article II of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, which was signed on 22 June 1965. However,many have argued that as the Koreans signed the treaty if not under duress, then certainly under the threat of military action, the treaty was illegal in terms of international law. In addition, as it was not signed by the Korean Emperor, nor the Prime Minister, it could not have been binding on the country. However, the major powers of the time did nothing to help Korea and turned a deaf ear to her pleas.[2]

Full text of the Agreement

Korean-Japanese Agreement

17 November 1905

The Government of Japan and Korea, desiring to strengthen the principle of solidarity which unites the two Empires, have with that object in view agreed upon and concluded the following stipulations to serve until the moment arrives when it is recognized that Korea has attained national strength.

  • Article 1. The Government of Japan, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Tokyo, will hereafter have control and direction of the external relations and affairs of Korea, and the diplomatic and consular representatives of Japan will have the charge of the subjects and interests of Korea in foreign countries.
  • Article 2. The Government of Japan shall undertake to see to the execution of the treaties actually existing between Korea and the other Powers, and the Government of Korea shall not engage to conclude hereafter any act or engagement having an international character, except through the medium of the Government of Japan.
  • Article 3. The Government of Japan shall be represented at the Court of His Majesty the Emperor of Korea by a Resident-General, who shall reside at Seoul, primarily for the purpose of taking charge of and directing matters relating to diplomatic affairs. He shall have the right of private and personal audience of His Majesty the Emperor of Korea. The Japanese Government shall also have the right to station Residents at the several open ports and such other places in Korea as they may deem necessary. Such Residents shall, under the direction of the Resident-General, exercise the powers and functions hitherto appertaining to Japanese Consuls in Korea and shall perform such duties as may be necessary in order to carry into full effect the provisions of this agreement.
  • Article 4. The stipulations of all treaties and agreements existing between Japan and Korea not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement shall continue in force.
  • Article 5. The Government of Japan shall undertake to maintain the welfare and dignity of the Imperial House of Korea.

In faith whereof, the Undersigned duly authorized by their Government have signed this Agreement and affixed their seals:

Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
The 17th day of the 11th month of the 39th year of Meiji

The 17th day of the 11th month of the 9th year of Kwangmu[3]

See also


  1. Russo-Japanese War and Japanese Extortion of Korea’s Sovereignty
  2. Sakamoto Shigeki; "The Issue of Treaties between Japan and Korea - from the standpoint of international law"; page 373
  • Sakamoto Shigeki; "Effect of the Korea-Japan Treaty - the first anthology"; Kansai University Law No. 44 Volume 4; 1995.