Statement Requesting the Equal Merger of Korea and Japan (韓日合邦を要求する声明書)
The statement of Requesting the Equal Merger of Korea and Japan is a statement to request an equal merger between Korea and Japan sent to Emperor Sunjong (of the Korean Empire), the Resident-General of Korea Arasuke SONE and Prime Minister Lee Wan-Yong on December 4, 1909 by a group of Chinilpa (literally "people friendly to Japan") called Iljinhoe which was under the influence of Japan in the Korean Empire (officially reported membership was a few million but actual membership was a few ten thousands).
In the statement, it says 'Tragedies in Korean history are our own fault, so we would like to plead to our Emperor and the Emperor of Japan to give Koreans the opportunity to enjoy the same treatment as the first class citizens of Japan. We ask the Japanese to develop our government and society' and suggest the Korean Empire and the Empire of Japan establish a new unified political body together and create a new empire by equal merger of both Empires.
Because the Iljinhoe group were receiving strong criticism not only from the general public but also from intellectuals at that time and the group was back Japan's invasion of Korea together with another Chinilpa Prime Minister Lee Wan-Yong, in North and South Korea, people were fiercely critical toward this statement as 'a view opposing the protection of national sovereignty, the effort of the Righteous Army (Korean army) and the patriotic enlightenment movement.
However, many researchers of other countries including Japan, have sympathetic views stating that, although it is true that the Iljinhoe group played a role making Korea a lost country without foreseeing the Empire of Japan's intension of invasion, their theory of equal merger was totally different from Japan's theory of Korean annexation (Korea comes under the rule of Japan to become a colony by relinquishing sovereign power), so considering Japan discarded the Iljinhoe after the group served their purpose, 'the Iljinhoe were also victims and should not be totally blamed'. In fact, there was a record saying that many members of the Iljinhoe felt 'Japan deceived us' when they found out about Korean annexation by Japan.
The point was, because Japan was aware of them being responsible for the invasion and colonial administration, they were rather sympathetic for Chinilpa (literally "people friendly to Japan") as a whole. There are some barbed criticism in North and South Korea saying 'Even if they were betrayed, they were still responsible for being betrayed' considering that the serious result that the group brought was the loss of the sovereignty and to fall under colonial rule.