Dokdo Shown as Korean Territory in Japanese Textbook?
Any expat who's spent a bit of time in Korea -- say, five minutes -- has already heard an earful on the Dokdo issue, those two rocks in the Sea of Japan (known to Koreans as the East Sea) that are claimed by Japan but possessed by Korea. Both countries point to maps as proof of valid possession, but the maps are often obscure and the arguments convoluted. Officially, my position is that Dokdo belongs to Korea. Unofficially, how would I know? I'm no expert. But to my relatively uninformed mind, Korea has a stronger claim, and for two reasons.
First, when Japan officially declared Dokdo (which they call Takeshima) to be Japanese territory in 1905, they did so on the basis of terra nullius, namely, that the rocks were land unclaimed by any state, evidence that Japan was not basing its official claim on longstanding Japanese possession.
Second, Japan actually seems to have considered the islets as Korean possessions, according to an article in Wednesday's Korea Herald, "Japan's old textbooks show Dokdo as Korean territory" (August 29, 2012):
Japanese textbooks from the late 19th century, written and published by the country's Culture Ministry at the time, indicate Dokdo as Korean territory, the Independence Hall of Korea announced on Tuesday[, noting that these] . . . textbooks -- mostly from the 1880s and some from the early 1900s -- prove that Japan's current claim over the islets is false . . . . "These books were written and published by the Japanese government at the time," said the Independence Hall of Korea institution, after unveiling five textbooks and two sets of maps of Japan to the public . . . . "This shows that the Japanese government did not consider Dokdo as part of their territory before Japan took over the islets during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. This is another clear proof that Japan stole Dokdo even before it annexed Korea."I'm a bit perplexed, however, by the map shown above, for its English caption reads as follows:
A map in a Japanese textbook published by the nation's Culture Ministry in 1896 shows Dokdo as belonging to Korea. The shaded areas around the Korean Peninsula indicate Korean territory and Dokdo is shown within them.The Korean caption, however, uses the date 1887, which left me wondering if that were the actual date given for the textbook in the photo. Both dates are before 1905, of course, and either date would therefore establish Korea's prior claim -- if the tiny easternmost island depicted on the map represents the Dokdo islets (very likely) and if the shaded areas do indicate possession (entirely plausible) -- but carelessness never inspires confidence. I tried contacting the Korea Herald with the following query:
Dear Ms. Lee,In return, I received this from the "Postmaster" at the Korea Herald:
In the online article on Dokdo:
I see two different dates beneath the map: 1887 in Korean and 1896 in English.
I am intending to post a blog entry on this textbook, so I need to know which date is correct.
Also, does the textbook explicitly state that the shaded areas are national territory?
I ask not to challenge (since I side with Korea on Dokdo) but to clarify.
Action: failedI tried from a different email. My wife then tried from hers. All three failed. So much for the Herald's openness to its readers. Meanwhile, the JoongAng Daily, in an article by Kim Hee-jin, "Old Japanese textbooks state 'Dokdo is Korea's'" (August 30, 2012), seems to clarify the date as 1887, for apparently the same map is depicted. Neither map identifies the island, so far as I can see, though the island definitely looks correct for Dokdo's position.
But I'd still like to know for certain if the Japanese textbook with this map explicitly states that the shaded areas are national territory . . .