• Dokdo in the East Sea
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7 Chapter Reference


1 Records on Observations on Oki


Those records were written in 1667 by a samurai in the Oki Islands area named Saitō Toyonobu. They contained the earliest written reference about Dokdo in extant Japanese documents. This report contains survey information about the Oki Islands area in Japan. The manuscript is comprised of five volumes. Its size is 16.2 centimeters in width and 23.6 centimeters in length.
The ongoing debate between Korea and Japan has to do with the interpretation of the Records on Observations on Oki. The focus of the discussion is whether an excerpt which reads “Japan’s northern boundary will be this island” is indicating Ulleungdo or Onshū (today’s Oki Islands). This is a sensitive issue for both countries as its proper interpretation could result in greatly different consequences.
隱州在北海中故云隱岐島. 按倭訓海中言遠幾故名歟 (omitted) 自子至卯 無可往地戍亥間行二日一夜有松島 又一日程有竹島. 俗言磯竹島 多竹魚海鹿按神言所謂五十猛歟此二島無人之地 見高麗如雲州望隱州然則日本之乾地以此州爲限矣.
 
Let’s take a closer look at the differences in the interpretation about Onshū. First is the Korean Interpretation:
“Onshū is located in the middle of the North Sea and is named ‘Oki Island’ (Okishima).” In Japanese, the word ‘oki’ means ‘middle of the ocean.’ Is this name derived from the same word? (Omitted) Songdo can be reached in two days (overnight) from Okishima, and Jukdo (Ulleungdo) can be reached in a day from Songdo. In general, the island is called Kijukdo. Bamboo, fish, and sea lions are plentiful in the area. Upon reflection, is this referring to Isotake? These two islands are uninhabited, and looking at Goryeo [Joseon] from these two islands is similar to looking at the Oki Islands from Onshū. This means that Japan’s northwestern border is determined to be the Oki Islands.”
 
The Japanese translation does not differ greatly from the Korean translation, except for one passage which reads, “What is the limit of Japan’s dry land (territory)?” This excerpt is analyzed as “The aforementioned islands (Jukdo and Songdo) are determined to be Japan’s northwestern border.” This is why the Japanese government presents this excerpt as evidence during territorial disputes. This Japanese translation ignores the entire contents as well as the context of the Records on Observations on Oki. (National Diet Record)

2 “Chōsen-koku kōsai shimatsu naitansho” (Confidential Inquiry into the Particulars of Korea’s Relations with Japan, 1870)


After the Meiji government was founded in 1868, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a survey committee to Joseon in 1869. One of the tasks of the survey committee was to investigate the situation with Ulleungdo and Dokdo. The survey objectives and the report are contained in Japanese Diplomatic Documents, published by the Japanese government.

3. Daijo-kan Order


The Daijōkan (Great Council of State), the highest decision-making office in the Meiji government, declared that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were Korean territory (25 centimeters x 35 centimeters)??. The official Daijōkan document, “Ministry of Home Affairs Questionnaire and Daijōkan Order,” bears the seal of a leader of the Meiji Restoration, Iwakura Tomomi (Minister of the Right). The Daijōkan Order consists of documents with answers to an inquiry by the Shimane Prefecture and a map addendum. In 1876, the Meiji government ordered each of Japan’s prefectures to submit maps to create a complete map of Japan. At this time, an inquiry was made by the local government of Shimane Prefecture to the Meiji government regarding whether to include Ulleungdo and Dokdo located in the East Sea. After five months of research, Japan’s Minister of Home Affairs decided that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were Joseon territory and therefore irrelevant to Japan. The Prime Minister reviewed the document and also came to the conclusion that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were in fact Korean territory and irrelevant to Japan. The Daijōkan informed Shimane Prefecture through the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 3, 1877, “Ulleungdo and Dokdo have no relation with Japan, and you must bear that in mind.” Japanese officials sent this order to officials in Shimane Prefecture on April 9, 1877.
The contents of the Shimane Prefecture inquiry and the Daijōkan Order are as follows:
Attachment: Japan’s Minister of Home Affairs, Jukdo and Ildo Jurisdiction Analysis (1692). Results of the trip to Joseon and its government after Joseon people inhabited the islands. Upon listening to the opinions of the officials that Japan has no relation with the islands, the following order is commanded.
Order: Jukdo (Ulleungdo) and Uldo (Dokdo) have no relation with Japan, and you must keep that in mind.
△ The Daijōkan Order
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