Outline of Takeshima Issue
1. Recognition of Takeshima
In Japan, a group of islands currently known as Takeshima were once called "Matsushima" and the island now known as Utsuryo, located approximately 92 km west-northwest of Takeshima, used to be called "Takeshima" or "Isotakeshima." Although there has been a period of temporary confusion concerning the names of Takeshima and Utsuryo Island due to an error in the charting of Utsuryo Island by European explorers and others, it is obvious from a variety of written documents that Japan has long recognized the existence of "Matsushima" and "Takeshima". For example, on many maps, including the Kaisei Nippon Yochi Rotei Zenzu (Revised Complete Map of Japanese Land and Roads - first published in 1779) by Sekisui Nagakubo, which is the most prominent published cartographic projection of Japan, the locations of Utsuryo Island and Takeshima are accurately recorded at their current position between the Korean Peninsula and the Oki Islands. On the other hand, there is no evidence showing that the republic of Korea(ROK) has long recognized the existence of Takeshima.
2. Sovereignty of Takeshima
In Japan, since Jinkichi Ohya and Ichibei Murakawa, who were both merchants of Yonago in the Houki-no-kuni region in the Tottori clan, received permission for passage to Utsuryo Island (then "Takeshima") from the Shogunate via the feudal lord of Tottori at the beginning of the Edo Period in the early 17th century, the two families took turns in traveling to Utsuryo Island once every year and engaging in activities such as harvesting abalone, hunting sea lions and the felling bamboo and other trees. Takeshima that was in the route to Utsuryo Island was used as a docking point for ships and a fishing ground. Japan established the sovereignty of Takeshima by the beginning of the Edo Period, in the mid 17th century at the very latest.
3. Prohibition of Passage to Utsuryo Island
The business activities on Utsuryo Island conducted by the Ohya and Murakawa families continued peacefully for about 70 years. However, when the Murakawa family traveled to the island in 1692, and when the Ohya family traveled there in 1693, they encountered many Koreans on the island engaged in fishing. This led to the initiation of negotiations between the governments of Japan and Korea as to the sovereignty of Utsuryo Island. Eventually the Shogunate issued a ban on the passage of ships to Utsuryo Island in January 1696 (So called "Takeshima Ikken - The Affair of Takeshima"). On the other hand, passage to Takeshima was not banned. This clearly shows that Japan has regarded Takeshima as its territory since then.
4. Incorporation of Takeshima into Shimane Prefecture
Around Takeshima, full-scale sea lion hunting started at the beginning of the 1900s. However, because sea lion hunting soon became excessively competitive, Yozaburo Nakai, a resident of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture, to stabilize his sea lion hunting business, submitted a request in September 1904 to three government ministers (Home Minister, Foreign Minister, and Agriculture and Commerce Minister) for the incorporation of the Lyanko Islands (note) into the territory, as well as for a 10-year lease. Upon this request, the government, in consideration of the opinions of the Shimane Prefectural government, issued a cabinet decision that the government reaffirmed its intention to incorporate Takeshima into Shimane Prefecture and claim sovereignty over the island.
(Note) "Lyanko Islands" was a Japanese colloquial term for Takeshima derived from "Liancourt Islands," the Western name given to Takeshima. At that time, Utsuryo Island was called "Matsushima" in addition to "Takeshima" and the current Takeshima called "Lyanko Islands" in addition to "Matsushima" because of charting errors by European explorers.
5. Takeshima Immediately After World War II
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Instruction Note (SCAPIN) No. 677 issued by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in 1946 classified Takeshima as one of the specified areas where Japan should cease exerting political or administrative power. In addition, SCAPIN No. 1033 designated Takeshima as an area outside the zone within which Japanese fishing boats were permitted to operate. However, both SCAPIN documents contained a statement that they should not be regarded as an ultimate determination in the policy of the Allies concerning the assignment of Japanese sovereign territory. It is also clear that the treatment of Takeshima before the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which established the territory of Japan, became effective does not influence the issue of the sovereignty of Takeshima.
6. Treatment of Takeshima in the Process of Drafting the San Francisco Peace Treaty
The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed in September 1951, stipulates that Japan, recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right title and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet". Upon learning of the content of this part of the Treaty drafted by the United States and the United Kingdom, the ROK requested the United States to add Takeshima as one of the regions for which Japan would renounce all right, title and claim. The United States rejected the request by responding that Takeshima had never been treated as part of Korea and does not appear ever before to have been claimed by Korea. Such correspondence clearly shows that Takeshima was affirmed as part of the territory of Japan.
7. Takeshima as a Bombing Range for U.S. Forces
The U.S. Forces used Takeshima as a bombing range for the U.S. Forces from July 1951 based on Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Instruction Note (SCAPIN) No. 2160. In July 1952, as the U.S. Forces expressed its desire to continue to use Takeshima, the Joint Committee established for the purpose of the implementing of the Japan-U.S. Administrative Agreement, designated Takeshima as a bombing range for the U.S. Forces. The Agreement stipulated that the Joint Committee shall serve as the means for consultation in determining the facilities and areas in Japan. Therefore, the fact that Takeshima was discussed by the Committee and the fact that the island was designated as an area for use by the U.S. Forces stationed in Japan clearly indicate that Takeshima is part of the territory of Japan.
8. Installation of "Syngman Rhee Line" and Illegal Occupation of Takeshima by the Republic of Korea
In January 1952, the President of the ROK, Syngman Rhee, issued a declaration concerning maritime sovereignty, with which he installed the so-called "Syngman Rhee Line". Installation of this line encompassing the Takeshima islands was a unilateral act in contravention of international law. In July 1953, a Japanese patrol vessel of the Maritime Safety Agency (now the Japan Coast Guard) was fired on by Korean officers supporting and protecting Korean fishermen. In June 1954, the ROK Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the ROK Coast Guard had dispatched a permanent battalion to Takeshima. Since then, the ROK has kept security personnel stationed on Takeshima and constructed lodgings, a monitoring facility, lighthouse, port and docking facilities.
The occupation of Takeshima by the ROK is illegal, with no basis in international law. No measure taken by the ROK concerning Takeshima during its illegal occupation has any legal justification. Such acts are not acceptable in any way, given Japan'position on its sovereignty over Takeshima. Japan has been consistently making strong protests against each and every measure taken by the ROK with respect to Takeshima and demanding the withdrawal of the measure.
9. Proposal of Submission to the International Court of Justice
Since the installation of the "Syngman Rhee Line" by the ROK, Japan has repeatedly protested against the ROK's actions, such as claims of sovereignty over Takeshima, fishing activities around Takeshima, firing at patrol vessels and the construction of structures on the island. With the intention to peacefully resolve the dispute, Japan proposed, with a note verbal, in September 1954 to the ROK the submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice; the ROK rejected the proposal in October of the same year. In addition, on the occasion of Foreign Ministerial talks in March 1962, Zentaro Kosaka, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, made a proposal to Choi Duk-Shin, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, to refer the issue to the Court, and again this proposal was not accepted by the ROK. This situation has remained the same until now.
Back to Index