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1. This is a written application, in accordance with the Statute and Rules of the Court, submitted by the Government of the United States of America instituting proceedings against the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on account of certain willful acts committed by fighter aircraft of the Soviet Government against a United States Air Force B-29 aircraft and its crew off Hokkaido, Japan, on October 7, 1952.
The subject of the dispute and a succinct statement of the facts and grounds upon which the claim of the Government of the United States of America is based are adequately set forth in a note delivered to the Soviet Government on September 25, 1954.(2) A copy of the note is attached to this application as an annex.(3) The Soviet Government has asserted its contentions of fact and law with reference to the United States Government's claim in other diplomatic correspondence on this subject, most recently in a note dated December 30, 1954, a copy of which is also attached to this application as an annex.(4)
2. The United States Government notes that the present dispute concerns matters of the character specified in Article 36 (2) of the Statute of the Court, including subdivisions (a) through (d). As will be seen from the annexes,(5) the legal dispute of the United States Government with the Soviet Government involves serious questions of international law. Among them are the validity of the Soviet Government's claim to sovereignty over the Habomai Islands situated off Hokkaido, Japan, and in that connection the interpretation of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed at San Francisco on September 8, 1951. In addition there are involved the scope and application of international obligations relating to the overflight of intruding and intercepting military aircraft, together with numerous issues of fact which if resolved in favor of the United States Government would constitute breaches of international obligation by the Soviet Government; and the nature and extent of reparations to be made by the Soviet Government to the United States Government for all these breaches.
The United States Government, in filing this application with the Court, submits to the Court's jurisdiction for the purposes of this case. The Soviet Government appears not to have filed any declaration with the Court thus far, although it was invited to do so by the United States Government in the note annexed hereto. The Soviet Government is, however, qualified to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court in this matter and may upon notification of this application by the Registrar, in accordance with the Rules of the Court, take the necessary steps to enable the Court's jurisdiction over both parties to the dispute to be confirmed.
The United States Government thus founds the jurisdiction of this Court on the foregoing considerations and on Article 36 (1) of the Statute.
3. The claim of the Government of the United States of America is briefly that the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on October 7, 1952 willfully and unlawfully caused fighter aircraft to overfly the territory of Japan, to hover over and pace a United States Air Force B-29 aircraft lawfully flying over Japan, the Soviet aircraft doing so unbeknown to the crew of the United States Air Force B-29, and without any provocation to attack and destroy the United States Air Force B-29, causing it to crash into the sea at a point between Yuri Island and Akiyuri Island in territory rightfully belonging to Japan; that the crew of eight, all members of the United States Air Force and nationals of the United States, have failed to return; and that the Soviet Government has concealed from the United States Government information as to the fate of the crew and has not made provision for the prompt return of any crew members whom it may still be holding or of whose whereabouts it is informed. The damages suffered by the United States Government and for which the Soviet Government is liable to it are specified in the annexed note. The United States Government claims that in the circumstances described in the annex the actions chargeable to the Soviet Government constituted serious violations of international obligation for which the United States Government has demanded and demands monetary and other reparation.
In diplomatic correspondence with reference to this matter, including the Soviet Government's note a copy of which is attached hereto as an annex, constituting negotiations which must now be determined to have been exhausted, the Soviet Government has asserted a version of the facts and of the law contrary to that asserted by the United States Government.
A dispute is therefore presented appropriate for hearing and decision by this Court in accordance with the Statute and Rules.
The United States Government, in further pleadings herein, will more fully set forth the issues of fact and the issues of law in this dispute. It will request that the Court find that the Soviet Government is liable to the United States Government for the damages caused; that the Court award damages in favor of the United States Government against the Soviet Government in the sum of $1,620,295.01 with interest and such other reparation and redress as the Court may deem to be fit and proper; and that the Court make all other necessary orders and awards, including an award of costs, to effectuate its determinations.
4. The undersigned has been appointed by the Government of the United States of America as its agent for the purpose of this application and all proceedings thereon.
(1) Department of State Bulletin, July 11, 1955, pp. 65-67. See also the State Department's announcement of June 7, 1955 (ibid., p. 65); U.S. notes of Oct. 17, 1952 (ibid., Oct. 27, 1952, p. 650) and Dec. 16 1952 (ibid., Jan. 5, 1953, p. 11); and Soviet notes of Oct. 12, 1952 (ibid., Oct. 27 1952, pp. 649-650) and Nov. 24, 1952 (ibid., Jan. 5, 1953, pp. 11-12). In a communication of Aug. 26, 1955 to the Court, the Soviet Government refused to accept the Court's jurisdiction. On Mar. 15, 1956, the Court announced that the U.S. application had been removed from its docket. See statement of Mar. 16, 1956, by the Department of State (ibid., Mar. 26, 1956, pp. 513-514). Back
American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957