Korea Gets Chinese Backing for Dokdo Claim

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency on Sunday came out in support of Korean sovereignty over the Dokdo Islets against Japan’s territorial claim, saying Korea’s right was 1,400 years older. “When we look at history, Dokdo has been recorded as Korean territory since 512 A.D., while Japan began considering it Japanese territory from 1905, Xinhua said in a story on the Dokdo row. Entitled “Whose territory is Dokdo?” the report was based on a story in the Shanghai Evening Post which said rich fishing grounds and deposits of oil and gas under the sea bed near the tiny uninhabited islets formed the background to Japan’s territorial ambitions.

It offered a historical account of Korea’s claims to the islets saying Lee Sa-bu, a general of the Shilla Kingdom under King Jijeung, conquered Usanguk — the present-day Ulleung Island — in 512, subjugating the Dokdo islets at the same time. During the reign of the Chosun Kingdom’s King Seongjong between 1471 and 1481, the islets were referred to as Usan Island and placed under the administration of Ulleung Island.

It said Japan admitted Dokdo was Korean territory in documents from 1667 and again in a Japanese Foreign Ministry document of 1896.

The paper reported that at the end of the Chosun period in 1900, King Gojong proclaimed Statute No. 41, in which Ulleung Island and Dokdo were placed under the administration of the kingdom’s Samcheok county.

Meanwhile, the paper said Japan first learned of the islets in 1618, when it called the islets Takeshima after a lost fisherman happened on them, and afterwards Japanese fishermen used it as a temporary anchorage.

But after clashes between Japanese and Korean fisherman in the seas near Dokdo in 1692 caused a diplomatic dispute between the two countries, Japan settled the conflict by barring its fishermen from the area. However, Japanese fishermen continued appearing off the islets.

The article said following the Meiji Restoration, Japan demanded that Korea open up Ulleung Island and the Dokdo Islets and unilaterally began asserting in 1905 that the islets, under the name of Takeshima, were Japanese territory.

The paper said Japan was pursuing its claims to the islets based on flimsy historical evidence.

The paper said Japan had been continuously expanding its territorial seas even after its defeat in World War II, highhandedly incorporating the Dokdo and Diaoyu islands into its maps.

(englishnews@chosun.com)

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