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Korea's claim to Dokdo has truth to it: Japanese scholar
April 12, 2005
In a two-page feature story on the Dokdo islets, Japan's Tokyo Shimbun ran an interview March 17 with a Japanese scholar, saying "There Is Some Truth in Korea's Claim to Dokdo."
Naito, 76, is a professor emeritus of Shimane University, located in Shimane Prefecture. The prefecture's regional council triggered an uproar with the passage of an ordinance, making Feb. 22 "Takeshima Day."
Another noteworthy aspect of the interview was the insertion of a picture of Korea's Ulleung Island, which also reveals the location of the Dokdo islets, called "Takeshima" in Japan. The islets sit 90 kilometers from the Korean island and 160 kilometers from the Japanese Oki island. So far, the Japanese press has made it a rule to ignore the existence of Ulleung in an effort to indicate the location of Dokdo.
In the interview, Prof. Naito made remarks to the effect that Japan's argument that by the second half of the 17th century, Japan had an effective control over the islets with Bakufu issuing travel permits for people wanting to sail there remained an unpersuasive justification for Japan's territorial claim. Naito said Japan banned travel to Ulleung Island in 1696, a step indicating that it had no intention to claim Dokdo as its territory.
He also noted the fact that the Japanese government had rejected in 1877 through Tatokan, the highest state organization, an application filed by a civilian a year earlier to develop Ulleung island on the grounds that "Ulleung and another island (in reference to Dokdo) had nothing to do with Japan." All this seems to come down to an acknowledgment by Japan, twice, that Dokdo did not belong to it; Japan never expressed its desire to exert claim to the islets.
Naito also said that Korea, in a royal decree in 1900, declared that Ulleung Island and nearby rocky islets - a reference to Dokdo - were its territory, a measure preceding the Shimane Prefecture announcement of its incorporation of the islets by five years.
Meanwhile, professor Kazuo Hori of Kyoto University, in a dissertation made public in 1987, noted that Shimane Prefecture's incorporation of Dokdo in 1905 constituted a sovereign encroachment upon Korea, or invasion by Japan.