Japan claims that it established its sovereignty over Dokdo in the mid-seventeenth century.
In 1618, during the early Edo period, the Oya and Murakawa families, who were residents of Yonago in Tottori domain, received permission from the Edo Shogunate for passage to Ulleungdo. There they engaged in a fishing monopoly and offered abalone to the Edo government. Dokdo naturally was used as a stopover en route to Ulleungdo, and served as a fishing ground for abalone and a hunting ground for black sea lions. Thus, Japan established its sovereignty over Dokdo by the mid-seventeenth century at the very latest.
Japan’s claims is not true because...
the Edo Shogunate and Tottori domain perceived Ulleungdo and Dokdo as Korean territory.
Permission is not necessary for passage to one’s domestic islands. Thus, Japan’s claim itself demonstrates that Japan had not recognized Dokdo and Ulleungdo as its territories.
A Japanese document from the mid-seventeenth century, “Records on Observation in Oki Province” (Inshu shicho goki
, 1667), states that the Oki Islands mark the northwestern boundary of Japan. This indicates that Japan had not perceived Ulleungdo and Dokdo as its land.
When territorial issues arose between Joseon and Japan after the Ahn Yong-bok incident, the Edo Shogunate asked Tottori domain if there were “any islands attached to Tottori domain other than Takeshima [that is, Ulleungdo].” Here, the domain answered that “no other islands belong to the domain, including Takeshima [that is, Ulleungdo] and Matsushima [that is, Dokdo],” showing that both islands were not under the jurisdiction of Tottori domain (see Material 6).
Based upon such a response, the Edo Shogunate issued the prohibition of Japanese passage to Ulleungdo on the twenty-eighth day of the first month of 1696. Thus, contrary to the Japanese government’s claim, Japan recognized Ulleungdo and Dokdo as Joseon’s territories in the late seventeenth century.
- MATERIAL 6. Tottori Domain’s Answer to the Inquiry from the Edo Shogunate (1695)
Tottori Domain’s Answer to the Inquiry from the Edo Shogunate (1695)“Takeshima [that is, Ulleungdo] does not belong to Inaba and Hoki [that is, Tottori domain]. It is heard that Oya Kuemon and Murakawa Ichibe, who were merchants from Yonago, in Hoki, were permitted to sail to and fish at the island through a sealed letter when Matsudaira Shintaro was governing the area. It is also heard that some people used to sail to the island before these merchants, but we are not well aware of that.
No other islands belong to the domain, including Takeshima [that is, Ulleungdo] and Matsushima [that is, Dokdo].”