• Dokdo in the East Sea
  • Dokdo in History
  • Dokdo is Korean Territory
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4. The Highest Decision-making Office in Japan’s Meiji Government Decides that Dokdo and Ulleung are Part of Korean Territory
The Great Council of State, the highest decision-making body in the early Meiji government, ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1870 to determine how Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) came to be part of Joseon.
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The Daijōkan, or the Great Council of State, which held the highest power over the three branches of the Meiji government, reconfirmed on two occasions the decision by the earlier shogunate government that Dokdo and Ulleungdo are Korean territory. The first occurred in 1870 when the Great Council of State ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to determine how Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) came to be part of Joseon territory. What is notable here is that the Great Council of State assumed that the two islands were already part of Joseon territory. The second occasion was in 1877 when the Shimane Prefecture government and the Ministry of Home Affairs reported to the Great Council of State, “We are aware that Ulleung and Dokdo became unrelated to Japan during the Edo period, and we will learn why.” The Great Council of State responded by sending instructions to the Ministry of Home Affairs: “The case of Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and another island have no relation with Japan, and you must bear that in mind.” The Ministry of Home Affairs informed this fact to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Shimane Prefecture. Some Japanese scholars have contended that the phrase “another island” does not indicate Dokdo. But an attached sheet in the instructions explained this in the following way: “There is another island called Matsushima. Its circumference is about 30 chō (approximately 3.3 kilometers). It is in the same direction toward Takeshima (when sailing from the Oki Islands) and takes about 80 ri (148 nautical miles; Japanese used a different measurement unit for the ri distance than did people in Joseon, and that Japanese unit was not always used with precision. The actual distance is 157 kilometers.). On this island, there are not many trees or bamboo groves, but one can catch fish and game animals.” The Matsushima mentioned here is without doubt Dokdo judging from its distance from Oki and other features. In other words, the Japanese government confirmed that Ulleung and Dokdo were part of Joseon territory.
The Great Council of State issued an instruction in 1877 to exclude the two islands of Takeshima and Matsushima from Japanese territory.A report by Japan’s Ministry of Home Affairs: Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and another island have been unrelated to Japan since 1692 when Koreans entered the islands and the relationship between the former regime (the Edo shogunate) and the country in question (Joseon) were terminated. But we will find out more in detail and report again.
Instruction by the Great Council of State: The case of Takeshima and another island have no relation with Japan, and you must bear that in mind.
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Explanation regarding “another island”: “There is another island, and it is called Matsushima. This island is about 30 chō [approximately 3.3 kilometers] in circumference. It lies in the same direction toward Takeshima, and when sailing from the Oki Islands is 80 ri (148 nautical miles) distant. On this island are few trees and bamboo groves, but one can catch fish and animals.· The following “another island,” or Matsushima, is 30 chō in circumference and has the same sailing direction toward Takeshima. It lies 80 nautical miles from Oki Islands, with few trees or bamboo groves, but there are fish and game animals.” (次ニ一島アリ松島ト呼フ周回三十町許竹島ト同一線路ニアリ隠岐ヲ距ル八十里許樹竹稀ナリ亦魚獣ヲ産ス)
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