An official Japanese document from 1902 recognizes Korea's sovereignty over Dokdo, three years before Japan's Shimane Prefecture forcefully incorporated the islets.
The document, which was submitted to the Japanese government by the Japanese Consulate in Busan in May 1902, refers to Dokdo as "Liancourt Rocks" and Ulleung Island as the "main island" of Dokdo. It was found in the diplomatic archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry by Park Byung-sup, a Korean-Japanese expert in history.
Yuji Hosaka, a Dokdo expert at Sejong University and a naturalized Korean citizen, received the document from Park and showed it to the Chosun Ilbo on Sunday.
A section entitled "Fisheries Status" in the document states that there are "three small islands around 5 nautical miles directly east of" Ulleung. It says they are the so-called Liancourt Rocks, but "mainlanders (Japanese) refer to them as Pine Island."
It adds that Japanese fishermen venture to Dokdo to catch abalone but cannot stay long due to a lack of potable water there.
Japan has so far claimed that Shimane Prefecture incorporated Dokdo, which was no man's land, in 1905. But Shin Yong-ha at University of Ulsan said, "In 1900, the Korean Empire officially proclaimed Ulleng Island, the main island, and Jukdo and Seokdo (Dokdo), small islets near it, as part of Korean territory." Shin added the 1902 Japanese document also refers to Ulleung Island as main island and Dokdo as attached to it, demonstrating that Japan indirectly recognized them as part of Korea.