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Opinions of Korea and Japan on Dokdo

The standpoints of Korea and Japan written below are based on the TV program of Seoul Broadcasting System named "Finding the Truth - About Dokdo".

1. Occupation of Usanguk by General Lee in the Book 'Samguksagi'

In 'Samguksagi', which was written by scholar Bu-shik Kim in 1145, there is a recording about Lee Sa-Bu, a general from Shilla kingdom, conquering a kingdom called Usanguk, which is present-day Ulleungdo, a neighboring island of Dokdo.

The following text is an excerpt from 'Samguksagi':
十三年, 夏六月, <于山國> 歸服, 歲以土宜爲貢. <于山國> 在 <溟州> 正東海島, 或名 <鬱陵島> . 地方一百里, 恃嶮不服. 伊湌 <異斯夫> 爲 <何瑟羅州> 軍主, 謂 <于山> 人愚悍, 難以威來, 可以計服, 乃多造木偶師{獅}子, 分載戰船, 柢{抵}其國海岸, 誑告曰: “汝若不服, 則放此猛獸踏殺之.” 國人恐懼則降.

In June 1113, Usanguk surrendered, promising to pay local products as tributes. Usanguk is an island located in eastern side sea of Myungju, currently called Ulleungdo. The island has a length and width of 100-ri(approximately 400km), and people in there had not surrendered because they believed in their territorial advantage. When Lee Chan, Leesabu at that time, became the sovereign of the Hasla District, he tried to use a trick to make the Usan people capitulate, due to the fact that Usan people are ignorant and fierce, making them hard to control with power. He carved dummy lions ouf of wood and loaded them on his battleships. When he reached the seaside of Usanguk, he lied that if the people of Usanguk does not surrender, he will free these savage beasts and let them tread on them to die. Usan people soon surrendered, fearing the beasts.

Both Korea and Japan agree that the contents of SamgukSagi are true, but the two countries have different viewpoints concerning the comment on Usanguk shown above.

Korean analysis Japanese analysis
● In the historical documents 'Dongguk Munheonbigo(1770)' and 'Manki Yoram(1808)', both written on the Joseon dynasty, it is stated that "Both Ulleungdo and Usando(Dokdo) are the territory of Usanguk, and Usan island is called Songdo in Japan".
● Japan's assertion that Usando and Ulleungdo are the same islands cannot be true. In 'Koryusa(1451)', which is another historical recording written before the Joseon dynasty, Usando is explained as an island located next to Mureoungdo (present-day Ulleungdo). The following text is excerpted from 'Koryusa': "Ulleungdo is located in eastern side sea of district. In the Shilla dynasty, it was called as Usanguk, Mureung or Ureung. Usando and Mureungdo are originally two separate islands and can be observed easliy if there is no wind and the weather is clear."
● The content which designates that Usanguk is consisted of both Ulleungdo and Dokdo were written later, making its creditablity questionable.
● Usando and Ulleungdo are the same island. ( Contents of some historical documents such as Sejongsilok-jiriji, Donguk-yujiseungram, Donggok-jiriji, support this theory.)
● Japan rejects the record that the "two separate islands can be observed when the weather is clear.". Japan interprets this excerpt from 'Goryeosa' differently: they do not think of it as "Dokdo can be observed from Ulleungdo", but as "Ulleungdo is seen in at the main territory of Joseon."(The way of interpreting chinese letters are different in these two countries)

2. Permits Given to the Japanese Fishermen in 17th Century Japan
Japan persists that Daimyo gave permits that enabled their fishermen to freely roam the sea of Ulleungdo at 1618, the early days of Edo era, and thus held the right to use Dokdo as an anchorage and fishing place in the 17th century.

Korean analysis Japanese analysis
● This specific permit was not a necessity needed when ships have to approach domestic islands, and therefore shows that Japan did not think Dokdo as their territory.
● Other Japanese official documents that were written around the time when these permits were created shows that Dokdo is clearly a Korean island.

- Taejeonggwan Jiryeongmun (1877)- Except Jukdo(Ulleungdo), Japan should remind that they do not have relationship with Ildo(Dokdo)

- Eunjusichunghapki (1667)- There is Songdo(Dokdo) if person goes two days northwest side, and if goes one more day there is Jukdo(Ulleungdo). Thus, limit of northwest territory of Japan is Eunju(Oki island)

- Samgukjubyangjido(1785) / Joseon Donghaeando (1857) - It is clearly stated that Dokdo is Korean territory
● The issuing of these permits is a fact that supports the argument that Japan had sovereignty over Dokdo.

3. Different Viewpoints Toward Ahn Yong Bok
During the rule of King Sukjong in the Joseon Dynasty, fishermanl Ahn Yong Bok carried on a task to get an official promise from the Japanese government that it will recognize Dokdo as an island of Korea.

Despite that he was kidnapped by some Japanese fishermen before, he went back Japan again, three years after the kidnapping.

Korean analysis Japanese analysis
● The following is an excerpt from the historical document 'Sukjong-Sillok',
Daimyo asked, "How did you come?" and the answer was, "It is clear that I got a pledge for two islands (Ulleungdo, Dokdo), but daimyo stole and fabricated the pledge, and encroached two or three times, violating laws."

The governor-general of Hokey said, "I promise that, under the condition that these two islands is under your country's rule, if anyone fleets or encroaches on your country, writes credentials, or brings commissioners, I will punish them severely."
● In Japan, there is a record stating that fisherman Ahn Yong Bok had come to Japan. However, the record does not state the reason of his visit. Rather, DotToribun has a record that they couldn't understand what fisherman Ahn was trying to say.

● Japan considers Ahn Yong Bok as a criminal who encroached upon Japan, and claims that he was not trusted by the king during the Joseon Dynasty.

A governmental report about Ahn Yong Bok's party reaching the Japanese coast in 1696 was discovered in Oki island, Simane hyun. In this document that recorded an examination with a local official in Japan, it was stated that:

"Ahn Yong Bok told us that eleven people on his ship visited here to negotiate with the governor-general of Hoki in DotToribun across Hoki. After that, they were planning to make a voyage to Hoki."

"There is an island named Ulleungdo in Dongnae, Gangwon province, Joseon. This is also called 'the island of bamboos'. Song Do is an island called Ja San(present-day Dok Do) in GangWon province."

Through this document, Japan could not help but agree that Korea's claim about fisherman Ahn is all true. This document also proved that Ulleungdo and Dokdo was part of Gangwon province.

4. The 41th article of the Korean Royal Order
In 1900, Korea officially announced Dokdo as the territory of Korea through the 41th article of its royal order.

<Main Contents>
● Rename 'Ulleungdo' to 'Uldo' and admit it to Gangwon province.
● Place a district office in Daehadong and grant control over Ulleungdo, Jukdo, and Seokdo.

However, Japan does not approve this fact, saying that Dokdo's name has been wrongfully recorded as Seokdo, not Dokdo.

Korean analysis Japanese analysis
● Seokdo can be directly interpreted into 'dolseom (=an island made of rocks)'. The dictionary definition of it refers to "an island with many rocks", but these islands are mostly useless. Korea used to designate these kinds of small islands, which is not worthy naming, as 'dolseom', a common noun.

● In the dialect of Ulleungdo, the island next to Dokdo, 'dolseom' is called 'dokseom,' but in written form, it was called "seokdo(石島)". Since the word 'dokseom' is a pure Korean word, there are no direct Chinese characters that can represent such pure Korean words.

● During the era of the Korean Empire, Dokdo was formally known by its old names which used throughout history, such as "Usando" or "Liancourt Rocks". However, the 41th Korean royal order described Dokdo as Dolseom (Dokseom) after taking consideration in the fact that residents at Ullengdo used that name to infer Dokdo.
● It is 1903 when the name, Dokdo, was created and thus it is not possible to verify whether or not Seokdo referred to Dokdo as the Korean and Japanese fishermen called the same island 'Liancourt Rocks' instead of 'Seokdo'.

● Before Korean government proclaimed its occupation rights iver Dokdo japanese government re-apporved the rights for Dokdo in 1905 through the Shimane Command Threrfore, Dokdo is clearly Japanese territory.

5. Dokdo had not been included in the San Francisco Treaty.
In the San Francisco Treaty which was signedin 1951, article 2 clause A states as follows:
Japan recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all rights, titles and claims to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet.

Japan insists that there was no need to return Dokdo to Korea because Dokdo was excluded from the category of the properties that needed to be returned. In 1946, after Japan's defeat, the headquarters of the Allies stated clearly through SCAPIN No. 677 that Japan must give back the natives every single thing that Japan has confiscated, and through No. 1033, which is also known as the MacArthur Line, that Dokdo belongs to Korea.

Japan is defined to include the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shinkoku) and the approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands, including the Tsushima Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands north of 30°North Latitude (excluding Kuchinoshima Island), and excluding (a) Utsuryo (Ullung) Island, Liancourt Rocks (Take Island) and Quelpart (Saishu or Cheju Island).

Japanese vessels and crews shall not come within the area nearer than 12 nautical miles of Takeshima situated at 37¡Æ15' N., and 131¡Æ53' E., nor shall they have any access to the islands.

However, the details of the Dokdo case were left out in the Treaty of Peace with Japan, which was finally presented in 1951. William. J. Sebald played the biggest role in leaving out the Dokdo issue. He, the ambassador of the US in Japan, sent a letter requesting the US government to clarify his stand by stating on a letter to the US government that it would be better to ally with Japan on the Dokdo matter. Consequently, Dokdo, which had been stated as a Korean territory in the first five drafts of the Treaty of Peace, was suddenly changed into a Japanese territory in the sixth draft and continued to be neglected from then on. Furthermore, Japan is claiming that the US government had recognized Japan's dominion of Dokdo by citing the letter which Dean Rusk, then an assistant secretary of the Far East, sent to the ambassador to Korea. The letter's main points were,

The island of Dokdo, also known as Takeshima or Liancourt Rocks, which is a normally uninhabited rock formation, was, according to our information, never treated as part of Korea and, since about 1905, has been under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The island does not appear ever before to have been claimed by Korea.

Japan constantly claims that Dean Rusk's letter demonstrates the official stand of the United States during that period. However, the US government's internal document of 1954 which was discovered last in May 2007, states that the letter does not correspond with the government's official opinion.

In the internal document of government, there are comments that the letter of Dean Rusk does not correspond to official opinion of U.S.A. government.

<"Conflicting Korean-Japanese Claims to Dokdo Island (otherwise known as Takeshima or Liancourt Rocks)">

ㆍIt is questionable whether or not the letter of Dean Rusk(which is a basis that Dokdo Island is Japanese territory in Treaty of Peace with Japan) can work as a legal basis of the assertion that Dokdo Island is Japanese territory as well.
ㆍIt is questionable whether or not the letter of Dean Rusk is based on adequate comprehension about historical facts.
ㆍClaiming that Dokdo is Japanese territory only because the parties that participated in Treaty of Peace and allied with Japan excluded Dokdo Island from the retrocession of territory can be controversial.
ㆍAlthough there was a US-Japan administrative agreement that allowed Dokdo to be used as a drill field of bombing by the U.S. Armed Forces, this does not support the assertion that U.S.A. authorized Japan to possess Dokdo Island.
ㆍIf Korea can prove that, before 1905, they legally possessed Dokdo Island, it is possible to include Dokdo Island into Korean territory legally.
This internal document shows that the U.S. never formally approved Japan's sovereignty over Dokdo.

Also, on October 3rd, 1952, the US Embassy to Japan mentioned the history of Dokdo in the letter sent to the US State Department.

<"Koreans on Liancourt Rocks">

The history of these rocks has been reviewed more than once by the Department, and does not need extensive recounting here. The rocks, which are fertile seal course, annexed together with the remaining territory of Korea when Japan extended its Empire over the former Korean State.

Although it cannot be said that this document is an official statement of U.S. government, the data is adequate enough to refute Japan's assertion that the U.S. government approves Japan's dominance of Dokdo.

6. Conclusion of argument of Dokdo Island problem between Korea and Japan.
Foreigners will be able to comprehend from this report that the assertions of the Dokdo conflict between Korea and Japan are very different from one another.

Korea claims that the recording that states that Shilla's General 이사부(Isabu), who appeared in 삼국사기(Samguk Sagi), occupied 우산국(Usan-guk) is the evidence that Dokdo was occupied by Shilla in 512. On the other hand, Japan claims that Dokdo Island was never included in 우산국(Usan-guk). Moreover, Japan publicly opposed Korean's assertion that ‘우산도(Usan-do)’ is the past name of present-day Dokdo Island, and claims that ‘우산도(Usan-do)’ is the post name of present-day 울릉도(Ulleung-do) .

Japan claims that they started fishery for the first time around Dokdo when no one live there(around the beginning of the 17th century), and established its dominance of the island in the middle of the 17th century. They presented the license given to Japanese fishermen in 1618 that gave them permision to legally cross the sea around Ulleungdo as an evidence supporting their stand on the Dokdo issue. Moreover, they mentioned that issuing the license to cross the sea also means that sovereignty over Dokdo was Japan's. However, Korea claims that Japan is interpreting this matter from a one-sided view, and presented many documents and maps of Japanese government that indicated Dokdo Island is the territory of Joseon as evidence.

Also both countries have different ideas about 안용복(An Yong-bok), who got the written oath that Dokdo Island is the territory of Joseon from the viceroy of Oki Island of Japan as an ordinary fisherman. In Korea, 안용복(An Yong-bok) was informed as a guardian or patritot who protected Dokdo. In Japan, however, 안용복(An Yong-bok) was known as the root of all evil. Japan insist that 안용복(An Yong-bok) fabricated all the comments about Dokdo while being in a position of a prisoner. However, the record about the party of 안용복(An Yong-bok) arriving at the Japanese coast shows that 안용복(An Yong-bok) never fabricated anything.

Using the unfair documentary record of the command 41 practiced in 1900 that ascertained the property right of Dokdo to be Japan's with an official name of Seokdo, Japan tries not to admit Dokdo as a Korean island. However, the name Seokdo(rock island) itself was actually a Korean dialect used in Ulleungdo to refer to Dokdo. But, Japan still does not accept this inevitable fact, and keeps on asserting that Japan gained Dokdo in 1905 through the Shimane Command.

Also, quoting that Dokdo was not mentioned in the San Francisco Treaty, Japan claims that Dokdo was excluded from the category of the properties that needed to be returned. Moreover, Japan says that other countries including the United States had admitted Japan's property right for Dokdo. Although it is wrong to deny that Dokdo was not mentioned in the San Francisco Treaty, this happened only because of Japan's continuous lobbying. The assertion that other nations admit Japan's rights about Dokdo is totally baseless: recent records and documents firmly prove that there had never been any admittance about the Japan's property right from other countries.