Japan archives support Korea’s Dokdo claim

Japan archives support Korea’s Dokdo claim

A South Korean scholar said yesterday he has found a 19th-century map commissioned by the Japanese cabinet that excludes the contested islets called Dokdo from Japanese territory. Sunwoo Young-jun, the head of the Metropolitan Air Quality Management Office, said yesterday that he found the map at the National Archives of Japan in Tokyo on Aug. 15. He released yesterday a drawing of the map reproduced from a photograph he took of it at the archives. Mr. Sunwoo recently received a doctoral degree from Sungkyunkwan University after submitting a thesis about the competing Japanese and Korean claims to the dot of land in the sea between the two nations.

He told the JoongAng Daily yesterday that tantalizing traces of the documents had been found in the 1990s, but that the complete set of documents and the map had not been located. In 1877, the researcher said, the Japanese Great Council of State (the equivalent of today’s Prime Minister’s Office) corresponded with the Interior Ministry on the question of who owned Dokdo, called Takeshima by Japanese. The Japanese cabinet eventually decided to exclude it from Japans territorial claims and the great council communicated that decision to the ministry. The map was originally attached to that notification from the council to the ministry.

The map marks Ulleung, an island to which Korea’s claim is uncontested, and the Dokdo islets along with their distances from Japan’s west coast. The controversy is by no means over, however, because the Japanese claim to Dokdo is based mainly on a later document, the 1951 San Francisco treaty that officially ended World War II and delineated Japan’s national territory. In the 1951 treaty, Japan surrendered sovereignty to Jeju and several other islands, including Ulleung, but not specifically to the Dokdo islets. That omission, Tokyo contends, means it retains ownership of territories it did not specifically surrender.

by Ser Myo-ja (September 13, 2006 – JoongAng Daily)

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