2. The falsehood that is the annexation of Dokdo in 1905 by Japan was based on the legal principles of prior occupation of an uninhabited land and inherent territory.
On January 28, 1905, the Japanese government forcefully annexed Dokdo to Shimane Prefecture following the principle of prior occupation of an unnamed, uninhabited land under the name Takeshima, the name previously used for Ulleung. Dokdo had been called Matsushima and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had confirmed that name previously. But the Japanese government transformed Dokdo into an unnamed, uninhabited by taking advantage of the confusion since 1885 following the dissolution of the Great Council of State and the competing use of the island’s name.
Documents adopted by the Japanese Diet (January 1905)The Japanese government decided on January 28, 1905, to annex Dokdo to Shimane Prefecture under the name of Takeshima by taking advantage of the theory of inherent territory in international law. This is clearly an act of invasion due to the indisputable fact that Dokdo had been part of Korea throughout history.
This constitutes a clear case of invasion by Japan after having denied its own acknowledgement of Dokdo’s possession three times. The annexation of Dokdo to Shimane Prefecture occurred in the process of Japan’s subjugation of Korea. The Korea-Japan Fisheries Agreement of 1899 included provisions that allowed Japanese fishermen to conduct illegal fishing operations in waters off Dokdo and not be so charged. For this reason, Japanese fishermen did not report to Joseon authorities even when they were in the territorial waters of Joseon, though they were fully aware that Dokdo was part of Joseon. Amid this situation in which illegal fishing activities were occurring in the East Sea, the Japanese government annexed Dokdo to Shimane Prefecture in 1905 in a preemptive move under the pretext of the islet being uninhabited land. But the principle of prior occupation of an uninhabited land is in stark contradiction to the theory of inherent territory. For this reason, the Japanese government later changed the explanation to “Dokdo had been Japan’s inherent territory prior to 1905 and it was later ‘reconfirmed’ under modern laws.” The problem with this argument, however, is that there had never been confirmation that Dokdo was part of Japan. In short, the theory of inherent territory and the annexation of Dokdo in 1905 cannot stand together in any manner. The reason the Japanese government is unable to abandon the inherent territory theory is that if it does so it would then in effect acknowledge that Dokdo was inherently Korean territory throughout history.