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Japanese Scholar: “Korea Has a Point”

Posted March. 17, 2005 22:51,   


Tokyo Shimbun drew public attention by reporting a Japanese scholar’s assertion that “Korea’s position on the Dokdo issue seems reasonable,” along with Japan’s logic of claiming ownership of Dokdo in a two-page special article on March 17.

Tokyo Shimbun’s report was unprecedented in that the Japanese press has so far looked away from the Korean side of the argument. It also attached a map indicating Ulleungdo is closer to Dokdo than Oki island is, saying Dokdo is 160 km away from the Japanese island, Oki, and 90 km away from Ulleungdo in its article.

Up until now, the Japanese press has made it a rule to skip Ulleungdo when they mark the location of Dokdo, as Ulleungdo is closer to Dokdo than Oki is.

An honorary professor at Shimane University, Seichu Naito (76) said in his interview with Tokyo Shimbun that although the Japanese government claims that Bakufu ruled virtually until the 17th century by permitting a crossing the sea, the claim was only a gross explanation and that Japan’s assertion of Dokdo as Japanese was literally groundless.

According to Professor Naito, Japan prohibited crossings to Ulleungdo in 1696, which meant that Japan had no intention to include Dokdo as the Japanese territory. Accordingly, Japanese didn’t go to Dokdo.

The situation shows that Japan considered Dokdo Korean territory at the time.

Naito also pointed out that the Japanese government said that Ulleungdo and the other island (Dokdo) had nothing to do with Japan through Tae-jeong-gwan, the highest-level office at the time, and rejected a citizen’s application to develop Ulleungdo in 1876, one year after the application was filed. In this regard, Japan twice said that Dokdo didn’t belong to Japan and it never asserted its ownership of Dokdo.

Naito also clearly mentioned that the Korean Empire (Daehan Jeguk) declared Ulleungdo and Seokdo (Dokdo) as Korean territory in 1900, five years prior to the Shimane Prefecture’s announcement of Dokdo as Japanese, and that it already made Korea the owner country of Dokdo.

In addition, Kazuo Hori, a professor at Kyoto University, indicated in his thesis in 1987 that Japan’s incorporation of Dokdo into Japan in 1905 was in the same vein as its infringement of sovereignty across Joseon and other intrusive behaviors.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com