• Dokdo in the East Sea
  • Controversies surrounding Dokdo
  • The History of Dokdo

The Russo-Japanese War: Pretext to Invade the Korean Peninsula

· June 23, 1903: Japan negotiates with Russia over Russian recognition of Japanese interests in Korea in exchange for Japanese recognition of Russian interests in Manchuria through the “Exchange of Manchuria for Korea”(Mankan kōkanron).
· July 23, 1903: Japan demands that Russia recognize its dominant position in Joseon and equality of opportunity in Qing China. When Russia refuses, Japan sends its last diplomatic note to Russia on February 6, 1904.
· February 10, 1904: Japan declares war on Russia. Two days before, on February 8, Japan launches surprise attacks on two Russian warships and one cruiser in Port Arthur. On February 9, Japan sinks the Russian fleet moored at Incheon Harbor and then deploys one army brigade (which is later increased by one division) to illegally land in Incheon. Joseon, in stages, is turned into a Japanese military base.
- After Japan forces Joseon to sign the Korea-Japan Protocol (1904), Japan begins using Joseon as a military supply base through the following actions: issuing military orders, expanding its authority to station and move troops, initiating military government, appropriating land for military use, and commandeering equipment and forcing Koreans to labor on behalf of the Japanese war effort.
The forced signing of the Korea-Japan Protocol: After Japan appeased or threatened high Korean government officials, it deployed the Twelfth Army Division led by Inoue Hikaru into Seoul. After the Japanese forces had surrounded the royal palace, Japan and Korea signed the Korea-Japan Protocol on February 23.
Issuing Military Orders and Threats against Koreans: Inoue announced the “Military Order Regarding Prisoners of War and Spies” on February 28, which stipulated that anyone who caused the Japanese forces great harm was to be executed and that the legal apparatus for this was to be established. On March 17, Itō Hirobumi threatened Minister of Royal Palace Affairs Min Byeong-seok, saying, “If you don’t do as I tell you, I’ll compel you do so with military force.”
Expansion of authority to station and move troops: After Japan adopted measures allowing it to freely station troops and use Korean buildings as barracks to help prosecute the Russo-Japanese War, it deployed soldiers to all parts of the peninsula.
* In October 1905, Japan mobilized two army divisions, established command centers in Hamheung and Pyeongyang, and placed the forces in the east (Hamgyeong-do), the north (Hwanghae and Pyeongan provinces) and the south (Seoul and south of Gyeonggi)
Promulgation of Martial Law: To prepare for the war, the Japanese arbitrarily declared martial law in Hamheung and other places.
Appropriation of land for military use: Japan tried to force Joseon into handing over a total of 9,750,000 pyeong of land in Yongsan, Pyeongyang, and Uiju for military use.
Commandeering Equipment and Forced Labor: In order to prepare for the war, Japan mobilized more than 100,000 Koreans to distribute matériel, which resulted in 49 casualties (based on data from June to October 1905).

The Russo-Japanese War and the Seizure of Dokdo

· May 18, 1904: Japan abrogates all Korean-Russian treaties, Russian lumber rights in the Duman (Tumen) and Amnok (Yalu) River areas, and takes over part of Ulleungdo for use as a military base.
· June 15, 1904: The Russian Vladivostok Fleet appears in the Korea Strait and sinks the Japanese transports Mutsu and Izumi.
· From June 27 to July 22, 1904: The Japanese constructs watchtowers equipped with wireless telegraphs in strategic locations such as Jukbyeon in Uljin County.
* Including Hongdo in the South Sea, Jeolyeongdo in Busan (August 1904), and Ulleungdo (September 1904), twenty watchtowers to help prosecute the war against Russia were constructed nationwide.
· August 22, 1904: After Japan and Joseon sign the First Korea-Japan Agreement, Japan hires foreign advisors to supervise Joseon’s foreign and financial affairs, beginning the era of “government by advisors.”
- An American, Durham W. Stevens, is hired as the foreignrelations advisor, and Megata Tanetarō as the financial advisor. In effect, Joseon had been deprived of its power to conduct foreign relations and financial affairs.
· September 24, 1904: After the Japanese warship Nitaka-maru conducts a survey on Dokdo, it reports to the Japanese government that it is possible to build watchtowers on the island.
* According to the Nitaka-maru’s log, “Koreans call the Liancourt Rocks as ‘Dokdo (獨島)’, whereas Japanese fishermen call them ‘Ryankoto’. This was the first time that ‘Dokdo’, the name for the island, appeared in print.
· September 29, 1904: Japanese fisherman Nakai Yosaburō submits a petition to incorporate and lease Dokdo.
· November 20, 1904: Commander Yamanaka Shibakichi of the Tsushima-maru and Surgeon General Imai Kebitarō disembark at Dokdo and survey the island for three hours.
* The commander scouted for areas capable of supporting watchtowers while the surgeon general scouted for potable well water. After both carried out their surveys, they reported that three locations were capable of supporting watchtowers and that Seodo had fresh water.
· January 10, 1905: Home Minister Yoshikawa Akimasa sends a secret message to Prime Minister Katsura Tarō about “The Case Regarding the Uninhabited Island,” and requests the holding of a cabinet meeting to consider the incorporation of Dokdo.
· January 28, 1905: During the cabinet meeting, Nakai’s “Request for the Incorporation of the Liancourt Islands into Japan’s National Territory and for its Lease” is approved and the decision is made to incorporate the island.
· February 22, 1905: Shimane Prefecture is notified by the Home Ministry of the cabinet’s decision, and announces the incorporation of Dokdo with “Shimane Prefectural Notice No. 40.”
* The Korean Empire promulgates “Imperial Ordinance No.41” on October 25, 1900, which expands Ulleung County’s jurisdiction from Ulleungdo to Jukdo and Dokdo as well.

The Japanese Military Use of Dokdo after Forced Incorporation

· June 12, 1905: The Japanese Ministry of the Navy issues a secret directive for the warship Hashidate-maru to survey Dokdo and judge whether it is feasible to construct a watchtower there.
· June 13, 1905: After inspecting Dokdo, the Hashidate-maru reports that construction of a watchtower is possible on the island’s peak.
· June 24, 1905: The Japanese Ministry of the Navy orders the construction of a wireless telegraph watchtower on the northern side of Ulleungdo, and an additional watchtower on Dokdo.
· July 14, 1905: Construction commences on the watchtower for Northern Ulleungdo.
· July 25, 1905: Construction commences on the watchtower for Dokdo.
· October 19, 1905: Watchtower is dismantled on Ulleungdo October 24, 1905: Watchtower is dismantled on Dokdo
* The Japanese government judged that watchtowers on the two islands were no longer needed after the conclusion of the Portsmouth Treaty on September 5, 1905 and the end of the Russo-Japanese War.
· November 9, 1905: Japan lays a submarine cable between Dokdo and Matsue in Japan.
* A submarine sea cable linking Korea’s East coast, Ulleungdo, Dokdo, and Matsue is completed.

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