July 30, 2015
Sovereignty over Takeshima
In 1618 (Note), Ohya Jinkichi and Murakawa Ichibei, merchants from Yonago, Hōki Province, in Tottori Domain, received permission for passage to Utsuryo Island (then called “Takeshima” in Japan) from the shogunate via the lord of Tottori. Following that, the two families took turns in traveling to Utsuryo Island once each year, and engaging in catching abalone, hunting sea lions and felling trees.
Note: Some believe that this was in 1625.
Both families engaged in fishing around Utsuryo Island using ships with the hollyhock crest of the ruling shogunate family on the sails, and usually presented the abalone they caught as gifts to the shogunate and others. Thus they monopolized the management of the island with the de facto approval of the shogunate.
During this period, Takeshima, on the route from Oki to Utsuryo Island, came to be used as a navigational port, docking point for ships, and rich fishing ground for sea lions and abalone.
As a consequence of the above facts, Japan had established sovereignty over Takeshima by the mid-17th century (early Edo period) at the latest.
If the shogunate had considered Utsuryo Island and Takeshima to be foreign territories at the time, it would have banned passage to these islands in 1635 when it issued its directives to close Japan to the outside world and to prohibit Japanese from traveling abroad. However, no such ban was issued.