More Historic Maps Weaken Japanese Claim to Dokdo

      December 31, 2009 10:43

      Yet another couple of historic Japanese maps, this time from the late 19th century, exclude Dokdo from Japan's territory, adding force to the argument that Tokyo has only recently started coveting the Korean islets. Hong Seong-keun, a researcher at the Northeast Asian History Foundation, on Wednesday released two maps made in 1879 and 1881 by the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs, both indicating only the Oki Islands as part of Shimane Prefecture but not Dokdo and Ulleung islands.

      Hong said the maps appear to have been made under an order of the Meiji government to exclude Dokdo and Ulleung from Japanese territory in 1877.

      A map issued by the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs in 1881 /Courtesy of the Northeast Asian History Foundation

      Shimane Prefecture in 1876 asked the Ministry of Home Affairs whether it should incorporate Dokdo and Ulleung, and the ministry forwarded the question to the Prime Minister's Office, the most powerful organization at the time. On March 20, 1877, the Office of Prime Minister said Dokdo and Ulleung were not Japan's. The Ministry of Home Affairs was responsible for the drawing up of maps in the early Meiji Restoration.

      Hong said the Great Map of Japan created by the ministry in 1880 shows a very detailed depiction of the Ogasawara Group or the Bonin Islands and the South Kuril Islands, which were territorially disputed, but did not include Dokdo and Ulleung at all. That means Japan acknowledged Dokdo as Korean territory until just before the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. Only in February 1905, as the war intensified, did it change its mind and incorporate the Korean islets into Shimane Prefecture.

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