Four Japanese academics held a press conference in Busan on Tuesday to announce their support of Korea's sovereignty over the Dokdo islets. The four are members of a group opposed to Japan's flimsy colonial claim to the islets.
They stressed that Japan's claim to Dokdo is grounded in a history of invading neighboring countries.
In April, members of the group which includes historians, religious figures and activists, held protests in Tokyo and Osaka against Tokyo's shift to the far right in territorial issues and attempts to revise the country's pacifist constitution.
Norio Kuboi, a retired professor at Momoyama Gakuin University, and Yoshihiro Kuroda, a former professor at Shoin Women's University, are part of the group.
"We perceive the Dokdo issue as a historical issue rather than a territorial one," Kuboi said. "Japan occupied Dokdo to better conduct the [1904-05] Russo-Japanese War, and Tokyo has since recognized it as its territory. Regarding it as a territorial issue is like glorifying an invasion rather than repenting for it."
The historians plan to visit Dokdo on Wednesday.
They produced historical records and photographs, including a copy of a Japanese map drawn in the 18th century. They said Japan's feudal government in 1775 acknowledged Korea's sovereignty over Dokdo by having cartographers spend three to four years redrawing a map that had mistakenly included the islets as well as Korea's Ulleung Island as part of Japanese territory.
"There are hundreds of other Japanese maps from the past that do not include Dokdo in Japanese territory," said Lee Sang-tae, a Korean historian.