Japan’s 1905 Incorporation of Dokdo/Takeshima: A Historical Perspective日本による1905年の獨島・竹島編入 歴史的に見て


March 2, 2015

Japan’s 1905 Incorporation of Dokdo/Takeshima: A Historical Perspective日本による1905年の獨島・竹島編入 歴史的に見て
Japan’s 1905 Incorporation of Dokdo/Takeshima: A Historical Perspective日本による1905年の獨島・竹島編入 歴史的に見て

Volume 13 | Issue 9 | Number 3

Article ID 4290


On January 28, 1905, the Japanese Cabinet formally adopted a resolution incorporating the island of Dokdo/Takeshima as Japanese territory. Justifying the incorporation based on the claim that Dokdo/Takeshima was “an uninhabited island with no evidence that can be recognizable as having been occupied by another country (無人島ハ他國ニ於テ之ヲ占領シタリト認ムヘキ形迹ナク. . . .”, the Japanese government then renamed the island Takeshima (竹島) and placed its jurisdiction under Shimane Prefecture, which in turn put it under the magistracy of Oki Island.1 This action by the Japanese government was strongly disputed by the Republic of Korea, igniting a bitter controversy between the two Asian neighbors. Following Japan’s defeat in the Pacific War in 1945, Korea, claiming historical rights, regained its control over the island. Japan regards this as an illegal occupation based on its 1905 incorporation. This article offers a historical perspective on the Dokdo/Takeshima controversy by examining the historical claims made by both Japan and South Korea.

The Korean claim over Dokdo/Takeshima goes as far back as the sixth century when the ancient Kingdom of Silla dispatched troops and subdued it in 512 C.E. The succeeding dynasties-Goryeo and Joseon-continued to control the island until the turn of the twentieth century when Japan arbitrarily and illegally incorporated into its domain in 1905, according to Korean scholars. These Koreans cite numerous historical sources to support their claim. For Japan on the other hand, the oldest written reference to Dokdo/Takeshima dates back to the seventeenth century and, as we shall see, throughout the Edo period (1600-1868), the Tokugawa government disavowed any claim over the island. The Meiji government likewise maintained the position that Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea, until 1905 when Japan suddenly shifted its policy and laid claim over the island on the ground of terra nullius.2 What were the reasons for this Japanese action? What were the motives? Here, we can find a convergence of two forces-one political emanating from the “Conquer Korea Argument” and the other an urgent military consideration in fighting the war against Russia being waged at the time. We shall see how an innocent business proposition by a private individual was manipulated by a few middle-ranking officials of the Meiji government to convert it into a national policy of territorial aggrandizement.

A Note on Names

Historically, both Japan and Korea used different names for this island and the larger neighboring island of Ulleungdo (鬱陵島),3 causing considerable confusion in identifying and locating these sites. Until the late nineteenth century, Japan used the name Takeshima to refer to what Korea now calls Ulleungdo, and Matsushima (松島) to refer to what Korea now calls Dokdo (獨島). When in 1905 Japan annexed the islet that it had previously called Matsushima and Korea called Dokdo, it renamed it as Takeshima. Korea, on the other hand, used several different names for these two islands besides Ulleungdo and Dokdo, including Usan (于山), Muleung (武陵), Uleung (羽陵), and Uleung (芋陵), among others. Korean scholars generally believe that Muleung is the present Ulleungdo and Usan the present Dokdo, although many others argue that these names were used interchangeably or collectively. Yet another name for Dodko / Takeshima was added by European navigators exploring the East Sea/Sea of Japan in the nineteenth century: Liancourt Rocks.4 The use of these different names naturally caused confusion, and contributed in no small degree to the rise of the controversy between Japan and Korea.

Ulleungdo has fertile land for farming, along with rich resources for fishing, hunting (sea lions), and logging. Dokdo/Takeshima, in contrast, is a rocky islet where human habitation is difficult, but it also has rich grounds for fishing, collecting abalone, and hunting sea lions. Located approximately 92 kilometers southeast of Korea’s Ulleungdo and 157 kilometers northwest of Japan’s Oki Island, the disputed island of Dokdo/Takeshima is currently under the dominion of the Republic of Korea, which Japan regards as an illegal occupation.

Historical References in Korea: Under Silla and Goryeo

The first historical reference to Dokdo/Takeshima in Korea is found in Samguk sagi (三國史記 History of the Three Kingdoms), compiled in the year 1145. It reads:

In the summer 6th month of the 12th year of King Jijeung’s reign [512], the Country of Usan (于山國) accepted submission and began to send its local products as annual tribute [to Silla]. The Country of Usan is located in the sea due east of Myeongju (溟洲) and is also called Ulleungdo.”5

Samguk sagi then details how General Isabu (異斯夫) of Silla used force and guile to force Usan-guk into submission. Usan was also called Ulleungdo, but there is no explanation as to whether Ulleungdo or Usan-guk also referred to Dokdo. Based on later historical accounts, Korean scholars today believe that the Usan-guk mentioned in Samguk sagi was comprised of both Ulleungdo and Dokdo.6 Japan, on the other hand, rejects this view, insisting that Usan-guk referred only to Ulleungdo and did not include Dokdo/Takeshima.7

During the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) that succeeded the Silla Kingdom, there are more numerous references to Ulleungdo and Usando. In 930, during the reign of the dynastic founder King Taejo, a report in Goryeo-sa (高麗史 History of Goryeo), the official dynastic history compiled in 1451, notes that two individuals named Baekgil and Todu from Uleungdo (芋陵島) submitted tribute of native products and were given titles as government officials by the king.8 Several reports during the eleventh century describe invasions of Usan by the Nuzhen (女眞), a tribe in Manchuria. In 1018, for example, there is this entry: “As the Nuzhen’s invasion of Usanguk was so devastating that its agriculture was faced with complete ruin, the king dispatched Yi Weon-gu with farming tools and implements.”9 Similar twelfth and thirteenth century references to Ulleungdo and Usando in Goreyo-sa and other historical works make it clear that Korea controlled and administered Ulleungdo as well as Usando throughout the Goryeo Dynasty.10

One may, however, question whether these references denote both Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima or just one of the islands. Since the barren rocky island of Dokdo/Takeshima did not favor human settlement, it may be that the references applied only to Ulleungdo. This question, however, is resolved in the geography section of Goryeo-sa, in which there is a clear reference to two islands. The entry on Ulleungdo reads as follows:

It is located in the sea due east of the county [of Uljin]. It was called Usan-guk during the Silla period. It is also called Muleung or Uleung (羽陵). . . . According to one view, Usan and Muleung consists of two islands, whose distance is not too far away so that one can see the other island when weather is clear and bright.11

Here, the official history of Goryeo states specifically that Ulleungdo consisted of both Usan and Muleung and that the distance between the two was such that each could be seen from the other only when the weather was clear and bright.

Koreans maintain that this passage is unmistakable evidence of Korea’s claim to the two islands dating back at least to the Goryeo period, for the only island that is visible from Ulleungdo solely under clear and bright weather conditions is Dokdo/Takeshima. Although there are many smaller islands in the immediate vicinity of Ulleungdo, none even comes remotely close to what Goryeo-sa describes.

Japanese scholars, however, dispute this. Kawakami Kenzō, a researcher at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, whose view may have largely shaped the Japanese position on the Dokdo/Takeshima controversy, expends considerable effort to find faults in the Korean historical sources. Comparing this particular passage from Goryeo-sa to many similar Korean historical references that followed afterward under the Joseon dynasty, he concludes that all the references basically repeat an earlier text and that Koreans made a mistake in reading these passages as referring to two islands. He insists that these writings refer only to one island of Ulleungdo and that Dokdo/Takeshima is not included.12 Most Korean scholars, however, reject Kawakami’s reading as a biased interpretation of the text, and argue instead the Dokdo/Takeshima is the only island that is visible in the distance from Ulleungdo under “clear and bright” weather conditions.

Korean Historical References: Under the Joseon Dynasty

The Joseon Dynasty succeeded Koryeo in 1392 and ruled Korea until 1910. Deeply committed to a Neo-Confucian ideology, Joseon Korea was particularly conscious of history and generated massive historical records–both public and private. These records contain numerous references to Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima, from which we learn that the early Joseon Dynasty was preoccupied with two issues in reference to these islands: the fear of Japanese marauders (倭寇), and how to deal with people moving there to escape governmental control.

In the latter half of the fourteenth and the early fifteenth centuries, Japanese raiders inflicted heavy damage along the Korean coast. In fact, their harassment was an important factor contributing to the demise of Goryeo and the rise of Joseon. Not until King Sejong launched a military expedition to Tsushima in 1419 was the menace of the marauders largely eliminated. But Japanese harassment still impacted Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima. In 1417, for example, a one-sentence report in King Taejo’s annals noted that “Japanese raided Usan and Muleung.”13 In 1437, Yu Gye-mun, the governor of Gangweon province, proposed a county-level magistracy on Muleung island to administer the people who were attracted there for its fertile land and to deal with problems arising from Japanese marauders.14

The greater concern for the Joseon government, however, was how to deal with those who sought refuge on the remote islands to avoid governmental exactions, such as taxes and military and labor services. In 1412, the governor of Gangweon province reported that more than sixty men and women had moved to Muleung island.15 In 1425, twenty-eight men and women were reported to have escaped there,16 and in 1438, sixty-six men and women were forcibly removed from Muleungdo.17 Most of these migrants were trying to avoid governmental control, as Kim In-hu (金麟雨), the Pacification Commissioner of Muleung, reported in 1416. The gist of his report reads: Because of its [Muleung] remote location in the sea, people moved there to escape military duties, and as the number of these people increased, it would surely bring Japanese marauders to invade, which in turn would threaten Gangweon province as well.18 Because of these concerns, the Joseon government in the end adopted the gongdo policy (空島政策) prohibiting people from visiting or residing on the islands.

What particularly draws our attention in these references, however, is the use of Usan and Muleung as the names of the two islands. A discussion of whether to assist or evacuate people from the islands in 1417, for instance, uses the names Usan and Uleung throughout.19 In the same year, a report on Japanese marauders notes that “Japanese raided Usan and Muleung.”20 Also, in 1425, when Kim In-hu was dispatched twice to bring back those who fled to the islands, he was designated “the Pacification Commissioner of Usan, Muleung, and the Other Area (于山武陵等處按撫使).”21

In 1457, based on his experience as magistrate of Gangneung, Yu Su-gang (柳守剛) proposed a new county-level office to administer the combined islands, declaring that “It is worthy to establish a county office for the two islands of Usan and Muleung (牛山茂陵兩島可以設邑).” Asked by King Sejo for advice, the Ministry of Military Affairs opposed establishing the new office on the grounds that the islands were too remote from the mainland, and that it was too difficult to navigate there. In rejecting Yu’s proposal, the ministry referred to “The matter of establishing a county office for the two islands of Usan and Muleung (牛山茂陵兩島縣邑設置事).”22 The king in the end agreed with the ministry. What draws our special attention in this discussion are, first, the specific references to “the two islands of Usan and Uleung,” and second, that these islands were important enough to be considered part of the regular provincial government administration of Joseon Korea. These records clearly show that not only was early Joseon cognizant of the existence of the two islands, but that it actually exercised administrative control over them. Based on these sources, Shin Yong-ha, arguably the best informed Korean scholar on this controversy, asserts that Korea recognized the two islands as one entity, in which Ulleungdo was regarded as “the main island” and Dokdo as its “subordinate island.”23

The recognition of the two islands as part of Korean territory is even clearer in the books of geography compiled in the early Joseon period. During the reign of King Sejong (1418-1450), a comprehensive survey of the country was produced. Recording geographical conditions as well as human and natural resources, this survey is appended to the Annals of King Sejong, the Sejong sillok jiriji (世宗實錄地理誌). The entry on Uljin county (蔚珍縣) of Gangweon Province notes: “Two islands of Usan and Muleung are located in the sea due east of [Uljin] county, and the distance between the two islands is not too far, but one can see each other when the weather is clear and bright.”24 Here, we find a clear reference to two separate islands located due east of Uljin, and visible to each other only under clear and bright weather. Such descriptions fit well with the present Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima, but match no other islands in the area.

In addition to the geography section of King Sejong’s annals, the early Joseon Dynasty conducted a number of other surveys of its human and natural resources, in particular compiling the Dongguk yeoji seunram (Survey of the Geography of Korea) in 1481, which was revised and augmented in 1530 as Sinjeung dongguk yeoji seungram (新增東國輿地勝覽). This remarkable study of Korea’s geography provides detailed geographic, economic, historical, and cultural information on various provinces and counties. The section on Uljin county includes this passage: “Usando and Ulleungdo: One is also called Muleung and the other Uleung. The two islands are located in the sea due east of the county [of Uljin]. Three peaks soar in the sky, but one in the south is a little lower. On a clear and bright day, one can see clearly trees on the tops of the hills and sand in the shore below [of the other island]. With favorable wind, one can reach there in two days..”25 Here, we find a clear description of Usando and Ulleungdo. We also learn that these two islands were placed under the administration of Uljin county in Gangweon province.

It should be noted here that this geographic survey mentions an alternative theory that “Usan and Ulleung are one island.” Based on this report that some people believed that there was only one island with two names, many Japanese scholars contend that fifteenth and sixteenth century Koreans knew of only one island and were unaware of the existence of Dokdo/Takeshima.26 Similar references in other historical sources also state that two names were used for the same island, certainly contributing to the confusion in identifying these locations. However the reference to two names for one place is included in the survey only as a subsidiary theory. In traditional East Asian historical writings, compilers very often included divergent or minority views, marked by such phrases as “different theories” or “一云” or “一說” (according to another view). In this geographic survey, the phrase “Usan and Uleung refer to one island” is included at the end of the paragraph, as “according to another theory,” indicating that it was recorded only as a minority view, and not the accepted conclusion. The book’s compilers clearly favor the theory that there were two islands of Usan and Uleung, which came under the jurisdiction of Korea’s Gangweon Province.

This conclusion is further strengthened by two maps depicting “Usando” and Ulleungdo appended to the Sinjeung dongguk yeoji seungram. Inserted at the beginning of the book, the “Paldo chongdo (八道總圖 General Map of the Eight Provinces)” depicts the entire Korean Peninsula, with major rivers and mountains in addition to the eight provinces. In the sea east of the Korean Peninsula, the map depicts two islands, called Usando and Ulleungdo.

Figure 1. Map of Korea in Dongguk Yeoji Seungram made in 1530. Usando is incorrectly located to the west of Ulleungdo in the sea east of Korea.

A second map, covering Gangweon Province, also shows the islands of Usando and Ulleungdo, located east of Uljin. Illustrating the existence of two islands in Korea’s eastern sea, these maps also clearly show that both were regarded as Korean territory, administered under the jurisdiction of Gangweon Province.

A controversy remains, however, surrounding the locations of the two islands as depicted in the maps. Usando is shown between the Korean Peninsula and Ulleungdo-that is, west of Ulleungdo. The present-day Dokdo, however, which many Koreans believe to be Usan, is located to the east of Ulleungdo. Understandably, Japanese scholars use this discrepancy to deny the Korean claim. Kawakami Kenzō, for example, cites the maps in his disparaging evaluation: “Even from the maps that offer the most concrete knowledge of geography, we can say clearly that the theory of Usan-Ulleungdo being two islands [as held by Koreans] is based wholly on an imaginary perception (觀念的), and it typically shows that such a [Korean] view is not derived from any factual knowledge at all.”27 Following Kawakami’s contention, the Japanese Foreign Ministry and Ōkuma Ryōichi reach similar conclusions, rejecting the Korean assertion that Usan and Ulleungdo were the present Dokdo and Ulleungdo.28

Japanese scholars contend, in short, that the inconsistency in the locations of Usan and Ulleung as depicted in Sinjeung dongguk yeoji seungram negates the validity of the Korean claim. Because the maps incorrectly place Usan west of Ulleungdo, the Japanese insist that Koreans had no actual knowledge of the existence of the present Dokdo/Takeshima, and base their identification of Usando as present Dokdo/Takeshima not on fact, but only on “an imaginary perception.” Koreans, however, vehemently reject this contention. Shin Yong-ha asserts that the inconsistent locations of Usan and Ulleung in the maps of Sinjeung dongguk yeoji seungram should be regarded simply as a mistake committed by the Korean scholar-officials who compiled the geography book-an understandable mistake, according to Shin, considering the limited cartographic knowledge and map-making skills of the sixteenth century. Despite the directional inaccuracy, Shin Yong-ha contends that the book’s two maps and narrative show that Korea at the time treated these islands as an integral part of Korean territory. The placement of Usando and Ulleungdo close to Korea’s east coast, according to Shin and other Korean scholars,29 is “a manifestation of the strong territorial consciousness” of the map-makers.30

Historically, as I have shown, Korea used several different names for the two islands, and close examination shows that these names were often used interchangeably. This may have occurred because of the lack of exact knowledge of the location of the two islands, due to their remoteness from the mainland and the difficulty in reaching them, But this lack of precise knowledge does not mean that Koreans were unaware of the existence of both islands. The maps instead demonstrate that they were fully cognizant of two separate islands–Usan and Uleung–as part of Korea.

Korean Policy of Vacating the Islands (政策)

Another bone of contention in the Dokdo/Takeshima controversy is the so-called policy of vacating or evacuating the islands of Ulleung and Usan pursued by the Korean government during the Joseon Dynasty. Officially, in 1417, the new Joseon government adopted the gongdo (空島) policy whereby people were not permitted to live on the islands. There were at least two reasons for this policy. First, in the late Goryeo and early Joseon period, many from the east coast of Korea had moved to Ulleung to seek economic gain and to avoid the burdensome duties imposed by the central government, including taxes and military and labor services. The government wanted to restore its control over these people. Second, with the memories still fresh of Japanese marauders pillaging Korean coasts and its surrounding islands, the Joseon government did not want to attract Japanese raiders to these undefended remote islands. In 1417, on learning that as many as eighty-six Koreans were living on Ulleungdo, the government dispatched a special commissioner to persuade them to return to the mainland. When only three complied with the request, the king ordered the evacuation of the island.31

Some Japanese scholars interpret this policy as abandoning the island, thus allowing Japanese fishermen to move there. Kawakami Kenzō writes: “From the early period of the Yi [Joseon] Dynasty, the island [of Ulleungdo] was completely vacated, and as the island was completely abandoned by the Korean Government, increasing numbers of Japanese visited [Ulleungdo], and for 100 years after the Bunroku war [the Hideyoshi Invasion of Korea in 1592-98], it [Ulleungdo] became wholly a fishing ground of the Japanese.”32 Ōkuma Ryōichi holds a similar view: “The policy of vacating islands started in the 15th century by the Joseon Dynasty government, and for the long ensuing period of more than 300 years, this island [Ulleungdo] was reduced literally to an uninhabited island (無人島).”33

Did, as these Japanese scholars claim, Ulleungdo become an uninhabited island following the adoption of the “Vacating Islands Policy” in 1417? Did the Joseon Dynasty really abandon Ulleungdo? Historical evidence indicates otherwise. Despite the official policy, Koreans continued to go to Ulleungdo, attracted by its fertile land, rich fishing grounds, and abundant forests, as well as to evade taxes and governmental control. As Shin Yong-ha has amply documented, numerous entries in the Joseon Dynasty annals (sillok) deal with the people who moved to Ulleungdo. Periodically the government was obliged to dispatch officials to handle those who violated the evacuation policy.34 In 1480, for example, King Seongjong appointed Shim An-in (沈安仁) as the Commissioner of Pacification (招撫使), and sent him along with more than 200 troops to Ulleungdo to persuade, coax, and/or compel those who were on the island to return to the mainland.35 Contrary to Japanese contentions, the evacuation policy did not result in the total vacating of Ulleungdo, and more importantly, it certainly did not mean abandoning the island. In reality, the policy was never effectively enforced, as Koreans continued to go there throughout the Joseon dynasty’s rule.

Japanese Historical Sources

Although there are a number of references to the presence of Japanese on Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima in Korean historical sources-characterizing them mostly as marauders-there is no known Japanese account of Dodko/Takeshima dating from before the late seventeenth century, many centuries later than the earliest surviving Korean account. The oldest known Japanese written reference dates back to 1667, according to Kawakami Kenzō, when Saitō Hōsen (齊藤豊仙), a magistrate of the island of Onshu (present Oki), compiled Onshū shichōgōki (隱州視聽合記, Record of what I observed and learned on Onshū) about Oki’s history, economy, etc.36 The following passage pertains to Takeshima (Dokdo): “When [navigating from Onshū] in the northwesterly direction for two days and one night, one can reach Matsushima (松島) [present Dokdo/Takeshima]. One more day’s journey from there will take one to Takeshima [present Ulleungdo]. These two islands are uninhabited by men. Looking toward Korea from there is similar to looking toward Onshū from Unshū [present Shimane]. Therefore, the northwestern boundary of Japan lies in this region.”37 This is the first reference in the Japanese literature giving the names of Takeshima and Matsushima, according to several Japanese scholars.38

The last sentence of this passage, however, is open to interpretation: “Therefore, the northwestern boundary of Japan lies in this region.” What is at issue is how to read the term “this region” (kono shū 此州) that marks the boundary of Japan. Most Korean scholars argue that “this region” refers to Onshū, or present Oki island, evidence that Saitō Hōsen believed the boundary demarcating Japan from the outside world was located in Oki, not Dokdo/Takeshima. Shin Yong-ha writes: “What is stated in this source proves, contrary to the claim made by the Japanese government, that Japan’s northern boundary ends with Oki island and [therefore] that Ulleungdo (Takeshima) and Dokdo (Matsushima) are parts of the Korean territory.”39

Japanese scholars on the other hand offer conflicting interpretations of Saitō’s observation. Ōkuma Ryōichi, a strong advocate of the Japanese claim to Dokto/Takeshima, reads the term “this region” as referring to Dokdo/Takeshima: “This Takeshima is the present Ulleungdo, and because Matsushima [present Dokdo/Takeshima] is [an island] where no person lived, it is the furthest land point of Japan’s northwesterly direction. The compiler [Saitō] writes that this is the boundary of our country.”40 Tagawa Kōzō likewise reads “this region” as the islands of Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima.41 Kawakami Kenzō, however, skirts the boundary issue. Although he quotes the entire passage, he uses it only to point to Saitō’s work as the first Japanese reference to Dokdo/Takeshima.42 Likewise, Tamura Seizaburō offers no reading of the boundary issue.43

Another Japanese scholar, Ōnishi Toshiteru, on the other hand, affirms the Korean interpretation of the boundary passage as defining Onshū (Oki), not Dokdo/Takeshima, as the farthest point of Japan. A native of Oki, where he finished high school, Ōnishi translates the pertinent passage as follows: “Japan’s boundary (the furthest point of the northwesterly land where the Japanese live) is in this region (Onshū, meaning Oki-kuni), and this constitutes the boundary [wherein Japanese live].”44 Hosaka Yūji, a Japanese-Korean scholar, has reached a similar conclusion.45 But the most authoritative reading of this particular passage is by Ikeuchi Satoshi, a professor at Nagoya University in Japan. Devoting an entire article to the term “this region (此州),” Ikeuchi studied the contexts in which other contemporary writers used it. Comparing as many as sixty-six examples, he concluded that “this region” referred to Onshū, not the islands, as the boundary of Japan,46 and that Saitō Hōsen defined the Japanese boundary as located on Oki island, not Dokdo/Takeshima. It should also be pointed out that Saitō used “this region 此州),” and not “this island (此島),” to refer to the boundary.

During Tokugawa Rule (1600-1868), the Japanese government imposed a strict policy of isolation (鎖國), banning its people from leaving the country. But discovering abundant resources, an increasing number of Japanese were attracted to Ulleungdo, which they called Takeshima (竹島) or Isotakejima (磯竹島). In 1618, two enterprising families of Ōya (大谷) and Murakawa (村川) from Yonago (米子) (now part of Tottori Prefecture) requested and were given permission by the Tokugawa Shogunate to engage in economic activities on Takeshima (Ulleungdo).47 It was while carrying out their work that the Japanese discovered the islet of Dokdo/Takeshima, which they called Matsushima, lying between Oki (Onshū) and Ulleungdo.48 This islet, with its rich fishing grounds, became a convenient way station for going from Japan to Ulleungdo.49 The Japanese claims of Dokdo/Takeshima are based largely on these activities carried out by fishermen during the Genroku period (1688-1703). The Japanese activities on these islands, however, did not last long, as in 1696 the Tokugawa government issued an order prohibiting its people from going to Takeshima (Ulleungdo).50

With memories of the destructive Japan-Korea war of 1592-98 still vivid, the Tokugawa Shogunate maintained throughout its rule a policy of peace and friendship with Korea. As we shall see below, the Tokugawa decision to prohibit Japanese from going to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) in 1696 was partly motivated by the desire to maintain friendly and peaceful relations with Korea.

As if to underscore the official position of the Tokugawa government, some maps produced in late eighteenth century Japan show clearly that Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea. A scholar famous for drawing attention on Japan’s maritime defense, Hayashi Shihei (林子平), compiled a book entitled Sankoku tsūran zusetsu (三國通覽圖說

An illustrated survey of three countries) in 1785, providing an account of the geography of Japan and three neighboring countries-namely, Ryūkyū, Ezo (Hokkaido), and Korea. Appended to this book is a colored map showing Japan, Ezo, Siberia, Manchuria, and Korea. In the sea between Japan and Korea are two islands-a large one it called Matsushima and another smaller one next to it that is not named. While the main island of Japan and its surrounding islands, such as Tsushima and Oki, are colored in green, Matsushima and its neighboring island have, in contrast, yellow color along with Korea. Moreover, next to Matushima is this passage: “They belong to Korea (朝鮮ノ持ナリ).”51

Figure 2. Map made by Hayashi Shihei in ca. 1785. Matsushima and Takeshima are colored in yellow same as Korea.  It notes: “They belong to Korea.”


Figure 2.here

In 1791, cartographer, Nagakubo Sekisui (長久保赤水) produced the famous map of Japan called Nihon yochi rotei zenzu (日本輿地路程全圖 Complete map of Japanese lands and roads), using for the first time the meridians and parallels. In this map, Nagakubo gave various colors to different Japanese provinces and islands, such as Tsushima and Oki, but gave no color to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) or to Korea.52 These two maps clearly indicate that Tokugawa Japan had no illusion of any territorial claim over the island of Dokdo/Takeshima.

The An Yong-bok () Incident

In spite of the policy of “vacating the islands,” many Koreans went to Ulleungdo seasonally to engage in farming, fishing, and logging. In time, these Koreans encountered Japanese fishermen–encounters that eventually led to conflict. In 1692, according to one Japanese report, approximately thirty Koreans were on Ulleungdo, apparently with no friction.53 But the following year, more than forty Koreans, including An Yong-bok and Bak Eo-dong, arrived at Ulleungdo to join other Koreans working there, and this time a conflict arose. After an argument, the numerically superior Japanese fishermen held An Yong-bok and Bak Eo-dong hostage, taking them to Oki and then to Yonago, Japan. After a series of interrogations, the two Koreans were eventually escorted safely back to Korea.54 Three years later, in 1696, An Yong-bok, accompanied by several Buddhist monks, went to Ulleungdo once again, where he tried to persuade the Japanese fishermen to leave the island on the grounds that Ulleungdo belonged to Korea. As he pursued the Japanese to Dokdo/Takeshima, he met unfavorable weather and was forced to drift all the way to Japan. Following interrogation, he was once again sent back to Korea.55

An Yong-bok’s first trip in 1693 prompted a diplomatic dispute between Japan and Korea over the ownership of Ulleungdo. Usually, the Ministry of Rites of the Korean government took charge of negotiating with Japan, while the lord of Tsushima represented Japan in dealing with Korea. Claiming historical right, Korea demanded that Japan not violate Korean territory or exploit the Korean resources of Ulleungdo. Rejecting this claim, Japan insisted that “Isotakejima [Takeshima, Ulleungdo] is part of Japanese territory.”56 But in 1696, after a flurry of diplomatic exchanges, Shogun Tsunayoshi ordered the lord of Tsushima to prohibit Japanese from going to Ulleungdo, for the following reason:

Although it is said that the land of Takeshima [Ulleungdo] belonged to Hōshū [Tottori], our people never lived there. During the time of Lord Daitoku, merchants of Yonago requested and were granted permission to fish there. As we consider its location, the distance from Hōshū is about 160 ri while the distance from Korea is about 40 ri. Moreover, it [Korea] appears to claim that this island forms its boundary. If [our] country should resort to military power, we may probably gain something. But it is not a good policy for us to lose the friendship of a neighboring country for the sake of this useless small island (無用の小島) .57f

With this decision, Japanese were prohibited from going to Ulleungdo until the end of Tokugawa rule. This prohibition also in effect conceded control of the islands to Korea. While Kawakami Kenzō contends that this order did not apply to Matsushima (Dokdo/Takeshima), which Japan held to be part of its domain,58 Koreans reject Kawakami’s argument.

It is important to take special note of the reason Shogun Tsunayoshi, who presided over the famous “Genroku Culture” in Japan, gave for his decision: Keeping friendship with Korea is more important than fighting over “this useless small island.” Following Tsunayoshi’s order, the Tokugawa government pursued in general a policy of peace and friendship toward Korea throughout its rule, which was reciprocated by Joseon Korea.

At the same time, An Yong-bok’s trips to Japan also provoked serious debates within the Korean government. When, in 1694, the lord of Tsushima, the chief Japanese negotiator with Korea, protested that the presence of Koreans on Ulleungdo (Takeshima) infringed upon Japan’s territorial rights and demanded that no Koreans should be allowed there,59 the initial response of the Korean government was to avoid trouble. Headed by Mok Nae-seon and Min Ham, the State Council (議政府), the highest office in the central government, hesitated to offend Japan. They advised the king that although Ulleungdo belonged to Korea, it had been vacated for three hundred years, and hence should not be allowed to become a cause for conflict.60 Shortly thereafter, however, a political change in the Korean court removed these officials and installed Nam Gu-man (南九萬) as the chief state councillor (領議政). One of his first actions was to reverse the policy toward Japan. Citing historical claims going back to the Silla period, as well as the Dongguk yeoji seungram, Nam Gu-man insisted that Ulleungdo was Korean land and that Japan should not be allowed to violate Korean rights and interests there. If the Japanese were allowed to do so, he warned, they would cause incalculable damage.61 During the discussion, there was even a proposal to establish a military garrison (鎭) on Ulleungdo to protect against any future intrusions by Japan. The king ordered that appropriate measures be taken, but apparently no action followed.62

In spite of his imprisonment, An Yong-bok, upon his release, went to Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima again in 1696 to repel the Japanese. He was forced off-course by unfavorable weather and reached Japanese shores, where he continued to advocate for the Korean position. On his return, he claimed that the Japanese authorities recognized the Korean claim and promised not to allow Japanese to violate Korean territory. He also claimed that the Tokugawa Shogunate wrote a letter acknowledging that both Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea, but this document was taken away by the lord of Tsushima.63

Some Japanese scholars contest his story. Kawakami Kenzō argues that An Yong-bok’s claim about the Tokugawa Shogun’s letter acknowledging the Korean ownership of the islands is not supported by the existing documents. Kawakami also denies An’s claim that he had interviewed the lord of Hōki (伯耆). Citing these and other inconsistencies in An Yong-bok’s description of his actions, Kawakami concludes that An’s account is based on “falsehood (虛構).”64 Others challenge this view, however. Both Naitō Seichū, an emeritus professor of Shimane University, and Hosaka Yūji, a Japanese-Korean scholar, examined recently discovered documents related to An Yong-bok’s visit to Japan. They believe that he most likely had the opportunity to interview the lord of Hōki while in Japan, and that An’s description of his conduct is consistent with other evidence, and hence his accounts are credible.65

In 2005, a batch of documents belonging to the Murakami (村山) family of Shimane was discovered, which shed new light on the An Yong-bok affair. Among these documents is one titled “A memorandum of Koreans arriving by boat in the 9th year of Genroku [1696].” The date and the contents of this document make it quite clear that it once belonged to An Yong-bok. Included is a sheet of paper entitled “Eight Provinces of Korea (朝鮮之八道),” listing the names of all the provinces of Korea. Under Gangweon Province is this line in small letters: “This province includes Takeshima and Matsushima (此道ノ中ニ竹島松島有之).”

Figure 3. An Yong-bok Document of 1696 (found in Japan) listing Korea’s 8 Provinces.  It says: “Matsushima and Takeshima are under Gangweon Province.”

In another document, An Yong-bok explains that “The island called Bamboo Island is Takeshima [Takeshima (竹島) means bamboo island], which is Ulleungdo and belongs to Dongraebu (東萊府) of Gangweondo [sic] in Korea. This is called Bamboo Island and is so recorded in the map of the Eight Provinces [of Korea], which I am carrying with me now. As for Matsushima, there is an island called Jasan (子山), which is under [the administration of] the province mentioned above [Gangweon Province], and this is called Matsushima. This too is recorded in the Eight Provinces Map.”66 Here, we have written documents going back to the last decade of the seventeenth century that show An Yong-bok declaring in clear language that both Ulleungdo and Matsushima (Dokdo/Takeshima) belonged to Korea. These documents, in the possession of the Murakami family of Oki County, Shimane Prefecture, and published in Japanese newspapers in 2005, in effect invalidate Kawakami Kenzō’s claim that An Yong-bok’s accounts are “false.”

Early Meiji Attitude to Dodko / Takeshima

Continuing Tokugawa policy, the Meiji government of Japan initially maintained that Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea and that Japan had no claim over these islands prior to the turn of the 20th century. This changed with the 1905 Japanese incorporation of Dodko / Takeshima.

Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the central government in Tokyo took over the authority of negotiating with Korea from the lord of Tsushima. For several years, the tradition-bound Joseon government, under the rule of the Daeweon’gun (大院君), refused to recognize the newly organized Meiji government, who now followed Western diplomatic protocols under the new emperor. Totally unfamiliar with these new protocols, Korea refused to deal with Japan, causing tension between the two countries. In 1869 the Japanese Foreign Ministry dispatched a special task force of three officials to investigate the situation within and without Korea. The following year, this team, headed by Sada Hakumo, wrote a confidential report on Korea’s domestic and external conditions, “Chōsenkoku kōsai shimatsu naitansho (朝鮮國交際始末內探書).” At the end of this document, the task force reports on the territorial status of Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima, as follows: “Report Concluding that Takeshima and Matsushima Belong to Korea (竹島松島朝鮮附屬ニ相成候始末): Matsushima is a neighboring island of Takeshima, and there is no [Japanese] record related to these islands. As for Takeshima, for some times after the Genroku period, Koreans went and stayed there, but no people lived on the island. . . .”67 This is the first reference to Dokdo/Takeshima by Meiji Japan, and this document is readily available in the official diplomatic documents published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Nihon Gaikō Bunsho. At this time, Japan still referred to Dodko/Takeshima as Matsushima, and Ulleungdo as Takeshima. This document therefore clearly reveals that both Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo/Takeshima) belonged to Korea (朝鮮附屬), and that they had since the Genroku period in the late seventeenth century.

The domestic transformations undertaken by the Meiji government also generated documents which referred to the position of Dodko/Takeshima. For instance, the 1869 abolition of feudal domains necessitated a new cadastral survey for all of Japan. In 1876, the governor of Shimane Prefecture submitted an inquiry to Ōkubo Toshimichi, the Acting Minister of Home Affairs in Tokyo, on whether Shimane prefecture should include “Takeshima and one other island (竹島外一島)” in the new land registry Shimane was preparing. The Ministry of Home Affairs, having examined the old records, found that Koreans used these islands during the Genroku period, and concluded: “These [islands] are not related to our country (本邦關係無之相聞候).” But, realizing the serious nature of dealing with a territorial matter, Ōkubo Toshimichi recommended further consideration by the Grand Council of State (大政官), the highest decision-making office in Japan.68 Upon studying the records of negotiations between Japan and Korea from the Genroku period, the Grand Council of State also concluded that these islands had nothing to do with Japan. Its final decision, issued in March 1877 as an official edict, reads: “The matter related to Takeshima and another island is not related to our country, and therefore all should take note of this (竹島外一嶋之義本邦關係無之義ト可相心得事).”69

Figure 4. Japanese Grand Council of State Decree of 1877 stating “Takeshima and another island are not related to” Japan.

“Takejima and another island” here of course refers to Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima. An appendix to this edict explains: “Isotakejima: It is also called Takeshima . . . and there is another island, which is called Matsushima.”70 Isotakejima is a Japanese name for Ulleungdo, and Matshushima a Japanese name for Dokdo/Takeshima. Thus the highest Japanese office declared that Japan had nothing to do with these two islands–in effect, admitting that they belonged to Korea. This was the official position of the Meiji government, based on careful examination of Japan’s historical records by the Home Affairs Ministry and the Grand Council of State.71 This position, as we have seen, is a continuation of the policy the Tokugawa government adopted during the Genroku period by prohibiting Japanese from going to Ulleungdo in the hope of avoiding conflict with the Koreans there.

Some Japanese scholars, however, dispute the conclusion of the Grand Council of State and interpret its edict differently. The Takeshima Research Center (竹島問題硏究所), an official arm of Shimane Prefecture, has been at the forefront in contending that Dokdo/Takeshima is a Japanese island. It claims that what is called “another island (外一島)” in the decision of the Grand Council of State did not refer to Matsushima (Dokdo/Takeshima). Because some Japanese people called Ulleungdo ‘Matsushima’, “another island” in the Grand Council’s decision thus refers to Ulleungdo, not Dokdo/Takeshima. The Takeshima Research Center then tries to read Grand Council’s edict: “The island (Ulleungdo) which sometimes is called Takeshima and sometimes called Matsushima is not Japan’s territory.”72 In other words, “Takeshima and another island” refer to Ulleungdo by two different names, not to Takeshima and Dokdo/Takeshima. This interpretation can only be seen as a tortured reading of the text that defies common sense. Why would the Grand Council of State specifically state “another island” simply to repeat Takeshima (Ulleungdo)?

Another Japanese scholar, Shimojō Masao, on other hand, argues that the Grand Council of State made a mistake in determining the status of Takeshima (Dokdo/Takeshima): “The Grand Council of State concluded that Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and another island are not Japanese territory. But this decision of the Grand Council of State is based on inadequate examination [of evidence]. That is because it is not clear whether ‘another island’ of the phrase ‘Takeshima and another island’ refers to [the present] Takeshima [Dokdo]. If ‘another island’ referred to the present Takeshima [Dokdo], there is no good reason to say ‘it is not related to our country.'” He then denies the Grand Council’s edict disavowing Takeshima (Dokdo) as part of Japan.73

Despite this argument, to date no advocate for the Japanese claim over the island has made any satisfactory explanation of the Grand Council of State’s 1877 edict. Both Kawakami Kenzō and Ōkuma Ryōichi, the most influential advocates of the Japanese claim to Dokdo/Takeshima, failed to address the significance of this edict. The Japanese Foreign Ministry is also totally silent on this decision rendered by the Grand Council of State. This strange silence on the part of the Foreign Ministry can only lead to the conclusion that the Japanese government is willfully and intentionally ignoring the edict of its highest office since the documentations of the proceedings leading to the final decision are easily and readily available to the public.

Whatever doubt one may have about what the Grand Council really meant by “Takeshima and Another Island” can be resolved by considering the map that is attached to the edict. The Reverend Urushizaki Hideyuki (of the Japanese Protestant Church) has provided a photo-reproduction of the relevant original document, including “A Map of Isotakejima” that names the islands specifically as “Isotakejima and Matsushima [Dokdo/Takeshima].”74 In addition, in a document Shimane Prefectural Office published recently to support the Japanese claim on Dokdo/Takeshima, there is a copy of the official letter submitted on March 17, 1877 by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Grand Council of State, in which it recommended that “Takeshima and another island” should be treated as unrelated to Japan. Under the title of this letter, there is this sentence in parenthesis: “Another island refers to Matsushima.”75 Matsushima here of course is the present Dokdo/Takeshima. Acting on this recommendation from the Home Affairs Office, the Grand Council of State made the final decision declaring that both Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matshushima (Dokdo/Takeshima) did not belong to Japan. There can be no doubt that “another island” (besides Takeshima) referred to by the Grand Council of State meant Matsushima (Dokdo/Takeshima), and no other island.

In addition to the Grand Council of State, Japan’s Imperial Navy also believed that Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima were within the domain of Korea, beyond Japanese jurisdiction. After 1880, the Japanese Navy compiled books of navigational charts for the sea around Japan and its neighboring countries. “Japanese Navigational Routes (日本水路誌)”, compiled in 1897, does not include Dokdo/Takeshima, although it does includes Taiwan, which Japan had recently acquired through the Sino-Japanese War in 1895. As Hori Kazuo points out, these Navigational Routes marked and defined Japanese territory and territorial waters, but conspicuously exclude Dokdo/Takeshima.76 On the other hand, a book on “Korean Navigational Routes (朝鮮水路誌),” compiled by the Japanese Navy in 1894 and revised in 1899, includes Dokdo/Takeshima as Liancourt Rocks,77 so named by European navigators in the nineteenth century. The Japanese Imperial Navy’s own navigational books, in short, exclude Dokdo/Takeshima from Japanese waters but include it in Korean waters, showing that at least up until the end of the nineteenth century, the Japanese Navy believed Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea.

With the opening of Japan to the outside world following the Meiji Restoration, Japanese entrepreneurs became increasingly interested in exploiting the economic resources of Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima. During the Tokugawa Rule, whatever interest Japan had there was largely confined to the fishermen from Oki Island and the Shimane-Tottori coast. But as an increasing number of Japanese citizens ventured to the outside world after the Restoration, many of them discovered the economic potential of these isolated islands. In 1876, Muto Heigaku was the first Japanese to propose developing the natural resources of Matsushima (Ullengdo) (松島開拓之議), followed by similar proposals several other individuals.78 Although they went nowhere, these proposals nevertheless had an important effect, arousing the interest of officials in Tokyo in Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima. The debates that followed show that the Japanese were also confused about the status of these islands and did not know the exact geography of the region, including whether there was another island besides Ulleungdo.

Watanabe Hiroki (渡邊洪基), of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, favored developing Matsushima (Ulleungdo). He first, however, wanted to determine the status of the region, and questioned whether the names Takeshima and Matsushima referred to two separate islands or to one island with two names (just as Koreans had debated previously). He then ruefully admitted that a complacent Tokugawa policy had ceded Ulleungdo to Korea. “If the so-called Matsushima is Takeshima, it belongs to him [Korea],” he argued. “But if this Matsushima is another island besides Takeshima, we [Japan] can claim it and no on can argue against it.” Because of the importance of the islands, Watanabe proposed consulting with Shimane Prefecture and dispatching a naval vessel to determine the geographic situation.79 Others opposed this idea, however, pointing out, according to Tanabe Taichi, that “Matsushima is the name Japanese gave, but it is in reality Usan (于山), belonging to Ulleungdo of Korea.” “Therefore,” he concluded, “if we send our people there to survey without good reason, it is like counting the treasures of someone else [as if they were ours].” Tanabe opposed Japan’s “transgressing” upon a neighbor’s land and emphasized the importance of maintaining amicable relations with Korea, arguing that “Matsushima should never be permitted or ought never to be developed.”80

Most participants in the debate were also bothered by the lack of concrete geographic knowledge about the islands. They were not sure whether Takeshima and Matsushima referred to two separate places or one island with two names, a confusion compounded by additional Western names used by Europeans, such as Dagelet, Agomaut, and Liancourt. To determine the correct geography of the region, the Japanese navy dispatched the vessel “Amagi (天城)” in 1882. Based on Amagi’s report, it was decided that what Japan called Matsushima was Korea’s Ulleungdo, and the Grand Council of State ordered that thereafter the name Matshushima would be used to refer to Ulleungdo. This decision, however, went against the long-held practice of the people in the Oki and Shimane areas, who called Takeshima Ulleungdo and Matsushima Dokdo/Takeshima. When informed of this decision about the new name, Azuma Fumisuke, the magistrate of Oki Island, cautioned that the people of Oki had historically called Ulleungdo Takeshima, and hoped that the new name would not cause confusion.81 As we shall see, this decision foreshadows the use of Takeshima as the Japanese name for Korea’s Dokdo. What is apparent here is that both Japan and Korea were still confused about the geographic situation of Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima as late as the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Korean Claims in the 19th and early 20th Centuries

Officially, the Joseon Dynasty maintained the policy of evacuating Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima. In reality, however, this was difficult to enforce. People went there seasonally for farming, fishing, and logging, and in time, many settled there. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, more than 1,700 men and women lived there, according to one count, and more than 2,500, according to another.82

Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, increasing numbers of Japanese fishermen and loggers, mostly from the Oki and Shimane region, were attracted to Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima. Through superior technology and greater capital, these Japanese heavily exploited the fishery and logging resources of the islands, creating serious problems for the Koreans living there. In 1869, one Japanese even planted a wooden pole on Ulleungdo with the sign “Matsushima of the Great Japanese Empire (大日本帝國松島).”83 The Korean residents appealed for help from the Korean government, which in turn protested to Japan. The Japanese government tried to curtail the activities of its citizens in Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima, but its efforts were ineffective.84

Troubled by Japanese intrusions, King Kojong (1863-1907) appointed Yi Gyu-weon as Special Inspector of Ulleungdo and dispatched him to the island in 1882. The Korean king told Yi: “Lately, people from another country come to Ulleungdo ceaselessly, causing a great deal of trouble. [The islands of] Songjukdo (松竹島) and Usando (芋山島) are located near Ulleungdo. Do you know the distances of these islands from Ulleungdo? We also do not know what sorts of things are there. As special inspector, you should look into all these matters and recommend whether we should set up a formal administrative unit at the county level for these islands. . . .”85 Aware of the existence of the islands near Ulleungdo, Kojong wanted to learn more about them, and even contemplated establishing a county office for Ulleungdo and its neighboring islands. With 102 men, Yi Gyu-weon spent seven days surveying conditions on Ulleungdo, paying special attention to the harmful effects of Japanese activities on the islands. On returning to Seoul, he made a detailed report of his inspection.86 But, unfortunately for unknown reasons, he had been unable to visit Dokdo/Takeshima, and thus failed to offer any information on the status of these islands.

Figure 5. Map of Korea made by Jeong Sang-gi in ca. 1800. Ulleungdo and Usando are located in the correct direction.

Alarmed by Japanese settlement, King Kojong abandoned the former policy of vacating the islands and adopted a more proactive stance to forestall the Japanese presence. Under his leadership, Korea repeatedly protested what he called illegal Japanese intrusions and their extreme abuses of the economic resources of the islands. Facing growing Japanese territorial ambitions over Korea, Emperor Kojong87 in October 1900 issued Imperial Edict (勅令) No. 41, establishing a new administrative unit for Ulleung County (鬱陵郡). Article 2 of this edict specified the area under its jurisdiction: “The areas this County shall administer are the entire island of Ulleungdo as well as Jukdo (竹島) and Seokdo (石島) (區域은鬱陵全島와竹島石島를管轄할事).”88 Unfortunately for Korea, this edict did not specifically name Dokdo but instead called the island Seokdo, causing some confusion to outsiders. Seokdo (meaning Rock Island), according to Korean scholars, was called by local people Dolseom (Rock Island), which was transliterated into the Chinese characters of Seokdo. Thus, these Korean scholars assert that Seokdo is another name for Dokdo and that this Imperial Edict of 1900, officially placing this island under the administration of Ulleung County, is a clear proof of Korea’s legitimate claim to Dokdo/Takeshima before Japan’s 1905 incorporation.89

Japan, however, rejects this argument. Disputing the Korean reading of “Seokdo” for “Dokdo,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry insists that the Korean Edict failed to include Dokdo/Takeshima as part of the newly created county of Ulleung. “Therefore,” according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry website, “it is considered that Korea had not established sovereignty over Takeshima.”90 Japan insists that Korea had never specifically named “Dokdo” as being under its domain.

Once again, confusion over the name of the island became the basis of contention. Even aside from the etymological argument that Seokdo refers to Dokdo, Korea insists that Koreans did in fact use the name of “Dokdo” at the time, contrary to Japanese insistence denying it. In March 1906, for example, Sim Heung-taek, the magistrate of Ulleung County, used the name Dokdo in his report to the central government. He was the first Korean official to report that Japan had unilaterally seized Dokdo/Takeshima. Sim wrote: “Dokdo, which belongs to our county, extends its domain beyond more than one hundred ri in the ocean. . . .”91 Upon receiving Sim’s report in 1906, Korea’s Home Affairs Ministry rejected the Japanese claim to incorporation: “The claim that Dokdo belongs to Japan is absolutely unreasonable, and such a report is utterly preposterous.”92 The Deputy Prime Minister instructed his officials: “The report of [the Japanese incorporation] of Dokdo is utterly groundless. You should investigate and report back on the situation on this island and Japanese activities there.”93 Here, we see clear examples of Korean use of the name Dokdo. In addition, as Shin Yong-ha documents, Korean newspapers such as Hwangseong sinmun and Daehan maeil sinmun, as well as individual writers such as Hwang Hyeon, used the name Dokdo.94 Moreover, the Japanese Navy itself recognized that Koreans were using the name. The Japanese warship Niitaka inspected Liancourt Island in 1904, and its journal entry for September 25 states: “Liancourt Rock is called Dokdo by Koreans.”95 This evidence regarding the use of the name Dokdo clearly supports the Imperial Edict of 1900 establishing Ulleung County, with Dokdo included in its domain.

Far from accepting Korean claims to Dokdo/Takeshima, Japan failed even to inform the Korean government of its action. Sim Heung-taek learned of the Japanese seizure in March 1906, when the first official Japanese team from Shimane visited the island to take over its jurisdiction, the Korean government in Seoul was unaware of the Japanese incorporation until Sim Heung-taek reported it.96 Preoccupied with undermining Korean sovereignty, Japan did not even inform Korea of its seizure of Dokdo/Takeshima.

Japanese Incorporation of Dokdo/Takeshima

In September 1904, Nakai Yōzaburō (中井養三郞), an enterprising fishing company owner in Shimane, submitted an application for incorporating Liancourt Island as Japanese territory and leasing it. In “Petition for Territorial Incorporation and Lease of Liancourt Island (リャンコ島領土編入並ニ貸下願),” Nakai called Dokdo/Takeshima Liancourt Island and described it as “an uninhabited island (無人島)” whose “territorial status is not yet determined (領土所屬定マラズシテ).” Given that uncertainty, it would be difficult for him to invest a large sum of capital to take advantage of the rich economic resources of the isolated island. He asked Japan to annex the island, arguing that “In order to secure permanently its safety and resources, and to allow managing the island completely to the end, it is necessary to incorporate this island into the Japanese territory.” He then asked to lease the island for ten years.97 Submitted jointly to the Ministries of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Agriculture and Commerce, this petition set in motion the eventual Japanese incorporation of Dokdo/Takeshima.

Upon receiving the petition, the Ministry of Home Affairs asked Shimane Prefecture and Oki Island for their views on Nakai’s request. Receiving their endorsement, the Home Affairs Ministry recommended that the full Cabinet of the Japanese government render a final decision, and on January 28, 1905, under the premiership of Katsura Tarō (桂太郞), the Cabinet adopted a resolution entitled “Territorial Incorporation of Liancourt Island,” enabling Japan to annex Dokdo/Takeshima as part of Japan. In justifying this act, the Japanese Cabinet claimed: “There is no recognizable evidence of this uninhabited island having been occupied by another country.” With Nakai Yōzaburō’s request for territorial incorporation and lease of the island, it became necessary for the Japanese government “to determine securely the ownership and the name of the island.” With the annexation, Japan also gave the new name of “Takeshima” to Liancourt Island.98 Two reasons are given for incorporation; first, that the island was uninhabited, and second, that there was no evidence of any country as having claimed jurisdiction over the island previously. Declaring Liancourt Island to be unclaimed terra nullius the Cabinet decided that Japan was justified in incorporating it under its dominion. This declaration, however, implicitly nullifies the assertion by the current Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that “Japan established sovereignty over Takeshima by the mid-17th century in the early Edo period at the latest.”99

This act of incorporation by the Japanese government touched off a bitter controversy that is still smoldering in the diplomatic arena between Japan and Korea. At issue is whether or not the Japanese action can be justifiable on the ground that no country had claimed this island prior to Japanese incorporation in 1905.

The Japanese claim of terra nullius in 1905 contradicts directly the official position its government repeatedly took previously, that both Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea. The 1905 cabinet decision clearly violates and overturns the official position the Japanese government–both Tokugawa and Meiji–had maintained publicly since the seventeenth century.

The Japanese assertion that no country had claimed ownership of the island was also contradicted by Nakai Yōzaburō himself. A key figure in the incorporation drama, Nakai initiated the process that eventually led to Japan’s annexation of Dokdo/Takeshima. Having visited and explored Vladivostok and the Korean coast in the 1890s, he was probably more aware of the status and conditions of Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima than anyone else.100 His own writings and the interviews he gave after annexation make it clear that before he filed his petition in 1904, Nakai was aware that Dokdo/Takeshima belonged to Korea. In fact, not only was he aware of Korean ownership, he also had at first intended to submit his lease application to the Korean government and contemplated seeking Japanese government help in persuading Korean officials. After approaching the Japanese government, however, he was persuaded by several officials to transform his original application into a petition for territorial annexation.

In 1906, Nakai gave an interview to Okuhara Hekiun 奧原碧雲 (also known as Okuhara Fukuichi), who visited “Takeshima” as a member of the first official group Shimane Prefecture dispatched to inspect the island in 1905. Based on his interview and research, in 1906 Okuhara published an article on the island in the journal Rekishi chiri (歷史地理), in which he writes: “Mr. Nakai believed that Liancourt Island [Dokdo/Takeshima] was part of Korean territory and he was determined to submit a request for leasing [the island] to its [the Korean] government, and for this purpose, he went to Tokyo in 1904.”101 A similar statement is also found in the personal history Nakai filed with the Shimane Prefecture Office. In the resume of his work on Takeshima, Nakai records: “As I believed that this island [Takeshima/Dokdo] was attached to Ulleungdo and was within the Korean territorial domain, I was going to deal with the Resident-General [of Korea] [sic] when I went to Tokyo.”102 Similarly, an official history of Shimane Prefecture compiled by its Education Office (島根縣敎育會) in 1923 notes that “In 1904 . . . Nakai thought that this island [Dokdo/Takeshima] was part of the Korean territory, and therefore, he went to Tokyo to persuade the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce [of Japan] to grant his petition for leasing the island from its [the Korean] government.”103 Contrary to the Japanese government’s 1905 position, Nakai Yōzaburō originally believed that the island was under the domain of Korea, and thus he had intended to petition the Korean government for lease rights.

Before submitting his petition to the Korean government, Nakai first showed it to Fujita Kantarō, an official in the Fishery Department of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. Fujita in turn introduced Nakai to Maki Naomasa (牧朴眞), the Director of Fishery in the same ministry. According to Nakai’s own resume, it was at this meeting that he first began to harbor the suspicion that the island might not necessarily belong to Korea. Nakai subsequently met with Admiral Kimotsuki Kaneyuki (肝付兼行), the Director of the Hydrographic Office in the Ministry of the Navy, who eventually convinced Nakai of the uncertainty of the island’s nationality: “I came to an assurance relying on the decisive decision (斷定) made by Admiral Kimotsuki that this island [Dokdo/Takeshima] was completely unattached (全ク無所屬).”104 Persuaded by these officials that the island had no ownership, Nakai abandoned his initial idea of petitioning the Korean government, and instead submitted his petition jointly to three Japanese ministries–Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Agriculture and Commerce–requesting not lease rights, but that Japan annex the island.

Even at this late stage, however, his petition was opposed by one of the three ministries. According to Nakai, the Ministry of Home Affairs was against the idea of the Japanese government seizing the island. The Russo-Japanese War was being waged at the time, and the Home Affairs Ministry feared that the incorporation of this small islet might lead foreign countries to suspect that Japan harbored ambitions of annexing Korea. Not wanting to raise the suspicion that Japan coveted territorial expansion over Korea, the Home Ministry rejected Nakai’s petition.105

Learning of the Home Affairs Ministry’s rejection, Maki, the Director of the Fishery Department, accepted the decision with resignation: “Nothing one can do about it if the decision was made for diplomatic reason, however disappointing and discouraging it may be.” Frustrated, Nakai was about to give up on his proposal when he was introduced to another official, this time in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yamaza Enjirō (山座圓二郞), the Director of Political Affairs, offered enthusiastic support for the incorporation. In contrast to Home Affairs Ministry, Yamaza believed that the war against Russia provided all the more reasons for Japan to seize the island. “Diplomatic issues are beyond the concern of other departments,” Yamaza told Nakai: “An incorporation of a tiny rocky islet is an extremely minor issue. But, seen from the vantage of topography, history, and the current situation, the incorporation of the island now will give us a great advantage.”106 Through annexation, Yamaza noted, Japan could build watchtowers and set up wireless and underwater cables on and around the island. He then told Nakai: “Seen from a diplomatic perspective, you should disregard the position held by the Ministry of Home Affairs and submit your application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as soon as possible.” Subsequently, according to Nakai, the Japanese government enthusiastically annexed Dokdo/Takeshima.107 It is important to note here Yamaza’s background. Strongly influenced by Genyōsha, an ultra-nationalist society that was in the forefront of Japan’s expansion to the Asiatic continent, Yamaza aggressively promoted within the Foreign Ministry territorial expansion over the entire Korean Peninsula.108

The Japanese scholar Hori Kazuo of Kyoto University has pointed to three issues deserving of special attention here.109 First, the Ministry of Home Affairs clearly opposed annexing the island, fearing repercussions from foreign countries that believed Japan might have territorial ambitions over the Korean Peninsula. Second, it is important to recognize the role played by the three officials Maki, Kimotsuki, and Yamaza. When Nakai first approached the Japanese government intending to petition the Korean government to lease Dokdo/Takeshima, these three officials persuaded him that the island had no ownership, and then guided him to petition for its incorporation under Japanese domination. In short, these officials transformed Nakai’s simple business proposition into a scheme that eventually led to the outright annexation of the island. The Japanese claim of terra nullius was initiated and manufactured by these officials in response to Nakai’s business petition. Third, the final decision for incorporation was based largely on military considerations. Following the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904, Japan undertook a series of serious actions that subverted Korea’s sovereignty and rights. Japan incorporated Dokdo/Takeshima in January 1905 in anticipation of the great sea battles the Japanese Navy was preparing against the Baltic Fleet of Imperial Russia. In the huge sea battles soon to take place, both Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima played a crucial role as bases for the Japanese Navy. In May 1905, the Combined Fleet of Japan, under the command of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, routed the Russian fleet in what is now known as the Battle of Tsushima-which, according to Togo’s own report, actually took place around Liancourt Island.110 There can be no denying that military considerations contributed significantly to the Japanese decision to seize Dokdo/Takeshima. As Hori Kazuo points out, this action was only “a small prelude” to Japan’s wholesale annexation of Korea, which soon followed.111 The claim of terra nullius for Dokdo/Takeshima was thus a mere pretext Japan contrived to “justify” its territorial and military expansion over Korea.

It should also be pointed out that there was another factor that contributed significantly to the Japanese decision to annex Dokdo/Takeshima. From the eve of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, a sentiment to conquer Korea began to brew within Japan, whose momentum was reaching a climactic point at the turn of the century. Although space does not permit extensive coverage here, this is a brief summary. Yoshida Shōin was one of the most, if not the most, influential ideological mentors of the Meiji leadership. On the eve of the Meiji Restoration, Yoshida called for the seizure of Korea as the first step toward Japanese expansion to the Asiatic continent.112 A disciple of Yoshida and one of the most powerful leaders of the early Meiji government, Kido Takayoshi (also Kido Kōin) harbored a similar ambition, and suggested colonizing Ulleungdo, which he claimed to have belonged to Japan in the first place.113 In addition, “the Conquer Korea Argument (征韓論)” swept Japan in the 1870s and the early 1880s.114 After winning the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, Japan actively pursued the policy of gaining dominance over the Korean Peninsula. Following the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904, in June the Japanese Cabinet, with Imperial approval, adopted the official position that “Imperial Japan should take over the real power of protection over Korea politically and militarily.”115 The Japanese incorporation of the tiny islet of Dokdo/Takeshima in 1905 thus did not occur in a vacuum. The seizure of Dokdo/Takeshima should be understood within the larger context of the policy of territorial expansionism Japan aggressively pursued under the Meiji government.

Apparently, there was no carefully preplanned scheme on the part of the Japanese government to seize control of Dokdo/Takeshima before 1904. The decision to annex the island was made extemporaneously to meet an urgent situation created by the confluence of political, military, and economic forces in Japan to deal with Korea and the war against Russia. The island was too small and had no significant value as far as the Tokyo government was concerned. Only a small number of fishermen from the Shimane-Tottori coast were interested in the island. Preoccupied with winning the much bigger prize of the entirety of Korea, the Japanese government paid no attention to Dokdo/Takeshima until the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904. With the war, Japan openly sought to gain full control of the entire Korean Peninsular “politically, militarily, and economically” (as its government repeatedly avowed to the Western Powers.116) Against such a backdrop, Nakai’s simple business proposal for leasing the island from the Korean government acted as a catalyst for Japan to seize control of Dokdo/Takeshima in 1905. The claim of terra nullius status for Dokdo/Takeshima was a convenient pretext that Japan contrived to “justify” its action, one that is undermined by the long documentary record of Korean control and utilization of the island.


Both Japan and Korea have argued that they have a historical claim to control of Dokdo/Takeshima. Korea’s claim goes as far back as the sixth century under the ancient Kingdom of Silla. The succeeding dynasties of Goryeo and Joseon also produced numerous written documents testifying Korea’s domination of the island, well into the beginning of the twentieth century. Historical documentation for the Japanese claim, on the other hand, is meager in comparison with that for Korea. The earliest documentary evidence Japan can present dates back only to the seventeenth century, and in 1696 the Tokugawa government forbade its citizens from travelling there. Throughout the Tokugawa period, Japan prioritized peace and friendship with Korea. The Meiji government at first followed this Tokugawa approach, until military considerations and imperialistic sentiment prompted a change in policy and Japan annexed Dokdo/Takeshima in January 1905.

In annexing Dokdo/Takeshima, the Japanese government totally disregarded Korean claims to the island. As the Japanese Cabinet considered its decision, Japan never consulted with Korea. And then, once it had decided on annexation, Japan never even notified Korea of its action. Japan knew full well that Korea had long claimed the island, yet Japan did not even bother to consult Korea before annexing it. The Japanese incorporation of Dokdo/Taekeshima was made unilaterally and arbitrarily, with total disregard for its immediate neighbor. This is illustrative of Japan’s arrogance and contempt for Korea. This disrespect for Korean sovereignty was further in evidence in the treaty Japan forced upon Korea with guns and swordslater in 1905, which deprived Korea of diplomatic sovereignty, in effect making Korea a Japanese protectorate. This contempt reached its zenith in 1910 with Japan’s annexation of Korea.

The year 2015 marks the 70th year of ending Japanese colonial rule over Korea. For many years there was a strong movement toward reconciliation between Japan and Korea based on mutual friendship, respect and trust. It is heartbreaking, however, to see the momentum of this current receding in recent years. One contributing factor in this unfortunate trend is the dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima.

Considering the long history of interactions between Korea and Japan going back to antiquity, the two countries have had a rather remarkably good friendly and mutually beneficial relationship, in which such historical incidences as the Hideyoshi invasion in the 1590s and Japanese colonial rule in the twentieth century should be considered more as painful aberrations than as normal practice. For genuine reconciliation, it is imperative for both Korea and Japan to face their history with honesty and humility.

It behooves us all to remember what the Japanese Shogun Tsunayoshi said in the late seventeenth century: Keeping friendship with Korea is more important than fighting over a small useless island.

Yŏng-ho Ch’oe, Professor Emeritus at University of Hawaii at Manoa, has written extensively on pre-modern and modern Korean history, including “Private Academies (sŏwŏn) and Neo-Confucianism in Late Chosŏn Korea,” Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, 21 (December 2008) and “The Mystery of Emperor Kojong’s Sudden Death in 1919: Were the Highest Japanese Officials Responsible?” Korean Studies, 35 (2011). He is a co-editor of Sources of Korean Tradition (Columbia University Press) and Sourcebook of Korean Civilization (Columbia University Press).

Recommended citation: Yŏng-ho Ch’oe, “Japan’s 1905 Incorporation of Dokdo/Takeshima: A Historical Perspective”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 8, No. 1, March 2, 2015.

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An earlier version of this paper was presented at a conference of the Korean-American University Professors Association at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in December 2012.


1 The full text of the Japanese Cabinet decision is cited in the following sources: www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/takeshima; Kawakami Kenzō, Takeshima no rekishi chirigaku-teki kenkyū (Tokyo, 1966), 212; and Naitō Seichū and Pak Byeong-seop, Takeshima-Dokdo ronsō (Tokyo, 2007), 192-93.

2 Terra Nullius is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary (10th edition, 2014) as: “A territory not belonging to any particular country” and in “USlegal.com.” as: “In international law, a territory which has never been subjected to the sovereignty of any state, or over which any prior sovereign has expressly or implicitly relinquished sovereignty….”

3 Romanization of Korean names follows the system devised by the Ministry of Education, the Republic of Korea.

4 Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeon’gu (Seoul, 1996), 62.

5 Samguk sagi, 4: 2b-3a, (Silla Bongi, Jijeung Maripkan 13th Year) (Tokyo: Gakushūin University Reprint, 1974). Because Samguk sagi was based largely on historical records of Korea’s Three Kingdoms, dating of this entry should be considered to be in the 6th century.

6 Shin Yong-ha, 58-63.

7 Kawakami Kenzō, Takeshima no rekishi chirigaku-teki kenkyū (Tokyo, 1966), 98-100; and Ōkuma Ryōichi, Takeshima shiko (Tokyo, 1968), 59-67.

8 Goryeo-sa, 1: 27b. (Yonsei University Reprint, 1955); Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo yeongyugweon jaryo ui tamgu (Seoul, 1998), 1: 20-21 (Hereafter, cited as Jaryo).

9 Goryeo-sa, 4: 28b; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 21-22.

10 Koreans often used “Usan-guk (Usan country)” and “Usan-do (Usan island)” interchangeably.

11 Goryeo-sa, 59: 24b-25a.

12 Kawakami Kenzō, Takeshima no rekishi chirigaku-teki kenkyū (Tokyo, 1966), 94-114.

13 Taejong sillok, 34: 9a; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 49-50.

14 Sejong sillok, 76: 11b-12a; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 60-63.

15 Taejong sillok, 23: 25b; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1:41-43.

16 Sejong sillok, 29: 19a; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 52-54.

17 Sejong sillok, 82: 7a-b; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 64-65.

18 Taejong sillok, 32: 15a-b; and Shing Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 43-45.

19 Taejong sillok, 33: 9a-b; and Shin Yong-ha. Jaryo, 1: 46-49.

20 Taejong sillok, 34: 9a; and Shing Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 49-50.

21 Sejong sillok, 29: 19a, and 30: 5b-6a; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 52-54 and 54-56.

22 Sejo sillok, 7: 28a-29b; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 68-71.

23 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 48-49, 53-54.

24 Sejong sillok, 153: 10b-11a.

25 Sinjeung dongguk yeoji seungram (Seoul: Dongguk Munhwasa Reprint, 1964), 45: 26a-27a,

26 Kawakami, 101-14; and Ōkuma, 62-67.

27 Kawakami, 114. (Kawakami’s attempt to discredit Korean historical sources impugns the integrity of Korea’s traditional scholarship.

28 Ōkuma Ryōichi, 59-67. See also “Takeshima no ninchi” on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

29 Shin Yong-ho, jaryo, (Seoul, 1998), 1:148-50; Kim Hak-jun, Dokdo yeon’gu (Seoul, 2010), 37-68; and Song Byeong-gi, Ulleungdo wa Dokdo (Seoul, 2007), 23-47.

30 Shin Yong-ho, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeon’gu, 86-96.

31 Taejong sillok, 33: 8a-9b. Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeon’gu, 143-44; Kawakami, 66-67; Ōkuma, 140-41.

32 Kawakami, 68-69.

33 Ōkuma, 83.

34 See Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 50-157.

35 Seongjong sillok, 115: 3b-4a.

36 Kawakami, 50. See also Ōnishi Toshiteru, Zoku Nihonkai to Takeshima (Tokyo, 2007), 6; and Ōkuma, 15-16.

37 Ōnishi, 33-34; Kawakami, 50; and Ōkuma, 15-18.

38 Ibid.

39 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 232.

40 Ōkuma, 16.

41 Tagawa Kōzō, “Takeshima ryōyū ni kansuru rekishiteki kōsatsu,” Tōyō bunko shohō, 20 (1988).

42 Kawakami, 50-51.

43 Tamura Seizaburō, Shimaneken Takeshima no kenkyū (Shimane, 1996), 7.

44 Ōnishi Toshiteru, Nihonkai to Takeshima (Tokyo, 2003), 178-79. See also his Zoku Nihonkai to Takeshima (Tokyo, 2007), 33-39; and Bak Byeong-seop, “Takeshima-Dokdo wa Nihon no ‘koyū ryōdo’ ka?” in Naitō Seichū and Bak Byeong-seop, Takeshima-Dokdo ronsō: rekishi shiryōkara kanggaeru (Tokyo, 2007), 30-32.

45 Hosaka Yūji, Uri yeoksa Dokdo (Seoul, 2009), 164-73.

46 Ikeuchi Satoshi, “Zen kindai Takeshima no rekishigakuteki kenkyū josetsu,” Seikyūgaku kenkyū josetsu, 20 (April 2001). See also Bak Byeong-seop, “Takeshima=Dokdo wa Nihon no ‘koyū ryōdo’ ka?,’ in Naitō Seichū and Bak Byeong-seop, ed., Takeshima=Dokdo ronsō: rekishi shiryō kara kangaeru (Tokyo, 2007), 30-31.

47 Kawakami, 51-83; Ōkuma, 77-86.

48 Kawakami, 73-83.

49 Kawakami, 83-93; Ōkuma, 77-98.

50 Kawakami, 168.

51 Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeon’gu, 36-37; Li Jin-mieung, Dokdo, A Korean Island Rediscovered (Seoul, 2011), 207-08. Kim Hak-jun Dokdo yeon’gu , 130-31. For a photo-reproduction of this map, see Shin Yong-ha, 14 and LI, 284.

52 LI Jin-mieung, 206-07; Kim Hak-jun, 131-32. For a photo-reproduction, see LI Jin-mieung, 282.

53 Kawakami, 145.

54 Kawakami, 145-47; Song Byeong-gi, Ulleungdo wa Dokdo: Geu yeoksajeok geomjeung (Seoul, 2010), 45-51; and Hosaka Yūji, 179-84.

55 Hosaka, 221-56;

56 Kawakami, 159.

57 Kawakami, 157. See also Sukjong sillok, 28: 36a-39a.

58 Kawakami, 53-56 and 190-93.

59 Sukjong sillok, 26: 6a

60 Sukjong sillok, 25: 30b.

61 Sukjong sillok, 26: 6a-6b; 27: 35a-36b. See also Shin Yong-ho, Jaryo, 1: 157-80; and Hosaka, 178-90.

62 Sukjong sillok, 27: 25a; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 1: 171-72.

63 Sukjong sillok, 30: 53-b. It is not yet clear whether or not Shogun Tsunayoshi’s order (prohibiting Japanese from going there) was related to An Yong-bok’s efforts in Japan.

64 Kawakami, 166-74.

65 Hosaka, 230-45 and Naitō Seichū, “Okino An Yong-bok,” in Takeshima=Dokdo ronsō, 53-71.

66 Hosaka, 226-29. See also Naitō Seichū, Takeshima=Dokdo ronsō, 63-71 and 289-306.

67 Nihon Gaikō Bunsho, vol. 3 [vol. 6 in some classification] (Meiji 3/3-3/12), 137.

68 A photo reprint of the original is found in Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjokyeongtosa yeongu, 166; and Song Byeong-gi, 164. See also “Sugihara Tsūshin” in “Web Takeshima Mondai Kenkyūjo”; Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 239-42; Hori Kazuo, “1905-nen Nihon no Takeshima ryōdo hennyū,” Chōsenshi Kenkyūkai ronbunshū, 24 (March 1987): 103; Bak Byeong-seop, “Meiji seifu no Takeshima=Dokdo hantogai shirei,” in Naitō Seichū and Bak Byeong-seop, ed., Takeshima=Dokdo ronsō, 80-93; and Ōnishi, 54-55.

69 For a photo reprint of the text, see Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeongu, 170. See also Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 243; Urushizaki Hideyuki, “Dajōkan ni yoru Takeshima hoka ichishima hanto gai shirei,” in Naitō Seichū and Bak Byeong-seop, ed., Takeshima=Dokdo ronsō (Tokyo, 2007), 307-25; and Bak Sam-heon, “Meiji chonyeon Taejeonggwan munseo ui yeoksajeok seonggyeok” in Dokdo-Ulleungdo yeon’gu: yeoksa gogo jirihakjeok kochal (Seoul, 2010), 123-65.

70 Urushizaki, 308-09.

71 Hori, 103-104; Ōnishi, 53-56.

72 “Sugihara Tsūshin,” No. 8 in “Web Takeshima Mondai Kenkyūjo.”

73 Shimojō Masao, Takeshima wa Nikkan dochirano monoka (Tokyo, 2004), 123.

74 Urushizaki Hideyuki, 313-25. Rev. Urushizaki is affiliated with a Protestant church in Kanazawa, Japan.

75 Shimane-ken shozō gyōsei monjo, No. 1 (Takeshima kankei shiryōshŭ, No.2) (Shimane, 2011), 37.

76 Hori, 105-106; and Bak Byeong-seop, “Meiji jidai no Suiroshi to kokkyo kakutei,” in Naitō Seichū and Bak Beong-seop, ed., Takeshima=Dokdo ronsō, 96-104.

77 Bak Byeong-seop, “Meiji jidai no Suiroshi…,” 96-99; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 248-51.

78 Kawakami, 31-37; and Hori, 104.

79 Kawakami, 38.

80 Kawakami, 44-45.

81 Kawakami, 38-49.

82 Song Byeong-gi, 203-07.

83 Shing Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 65.

84 For Japanese attempts, see Shimaneken . . . monjo, 39-45.

85 Kojong sillok, 19: 24b-25b.

86 Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeongu, 178-81; and his Jaryo, 2: 15-115.

87 King Kojong proclaimed himself an emperor in 1897.

88 Gwanbo, No. 1,716 (October 27, 1900). For the full text, see also Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 315-16.

89 Shin Yong-ha, Dokdo ui minjok yeongtosa yeongu, 194-201; and his Jaryo, 2: 312-24. See also Song Byeong-gi, 216-21.

90 See here.

91 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 172-75.

92 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 176-77.

93 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 177.

94 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 178-81.

95 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 3: 186-93.

96 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 172-75.

97 The full text is cited in Shimaneken shozō gyōsei monjo (Matsushima kankei shiryōshū, No. 2) (Shimane, 2011), 1: 50-54; Kawakami, 209-211; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2; 272-75. Also in “Incorporation of Takeshima into Shimane Prefecture” on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

98 Kawakami, 46-49, 212-214; and Shina Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 277-83.

99 “Sovereignty of Takeshima”.

100 For Nakai’s biography, see Okuhara Hekiun, “Takeshima keieisha Nakai Yūzaburō shi risshiden,” in “Takeshima mondai ni kansuru chōsa kenkyū saishū hōkokusho” (March 2006). See also Hori, 116.

101 Okuhara Hekiun, “Takeshima enkaku kō,” Rekishi chiri, vol. 8 (1906), 474, See also Hori, 116; and Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 266-70;

102 For the text, see Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 262-66; and Hori, 116-17. Actually, the Resident-General Office was not established until February 1906.

103 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 270-71.

104 Hori, 116-17.

105 For the text, see Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 262-66; and Hori, 116-17.

106 Okuhara, “Takeshima keieisha Nakai Yōyozaburō shi risshiden,” op. cit.

107 Shin Yong-ha, Jaryo, 2: 263; and Hori, 116-17.

108 Hori, 118.

89 Hori, 117-18.

110 Shimbun shūsei Meiji hennen-shi (Tokyo, 1982), 12: 423-25; Shimaneken shozō gyōsei monjo, Vol. 1 (Matsue, 2011), 95-97. The governor of Shimane Prefecture took great pride in the role Takeshima (Dokdo) played in the great victory Japan achieved: “In this great Naval battles, this small island has garnered a glory throughout the world because of Admiral Tōgō, and Shimane Prefecture should celebrate this glory as well.” (Shimaneken . . . monjo, 97)

111 Hori, 118.

112 Yoshida Shōin, Yūshūroku in Yoshida Shōin zenshū (Tokyo, 1940), 1: 350. See also Yoshi S. Kuno, Japanese Expansion on the Asiatic Continent (Berkely, 1940), 2: 351-55; and Key-Hiuk Kim, The Last Phase of the East Asian World Order (Berkeley, 1980), 82.

113 Kido Takayoshi monjo (Tokyo, 1930), 3: 231-33; 8: 8-9. See also Key-Hiuk Kim, 92; and Tominari Hiroshi, Kido Takayoshi (Tokyo, 1972), 163-67.

114 See Key-Hiuk Kim, 169-91; and Kikuda Sadao, Seikan-ron no shinsō to sono eikyō (Tokyo, 1941).

115 Nihon gaikō nenpyō narabi shuyō monjo (Tokyo, 1965), 1: 224.

116 See the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1905 and the Taft-Katsura Memorandum.

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Article ID 4290

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The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus is a peer-reviewed publication, providing critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific and the world.

    About the author:


    Our monthly newsletter provides readers with an in-depth analysis of forces shaping the Asia-Pacific and the world.

      Since 2002

      Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus has produced critical reporting on geopolitics, economics, history, environment, and international relations.