Irrefutable proofHistorical Japanese documents that excluded the Dokdo islets from Tokyo’s territory have been discovered recently. Ordinance No. 24 proclaimed by Japan’s prime minister and Ordinance No. 4 by the Ministry of Finance in 1951 stated that Ulleung Island, the Dokdo islets and Jeju Island were not territories annexed by Japan.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry, however, says that the documents in question defined the scope of Japan’s administrative power, not the scope of territory. The ministry claims that the two ordinances were written by the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces that occupied Japan at the time, and that the scope of administrative power and the territorial boundary don’t always match.
This is a flimsy explanation. If Tokyo is confident that the documents wouldn’t shake its claim over Dokdo, why has it refused to publicize them? Tokyo made the documents public reluctantly after it was sued to reveal the information. And why were there ink smears all over the documents except on the title of the ordinances, making them difficult to read?
The existence of the documents confirmed once again Korea’s ownership over the Dokdo islets as we have maintained. Historically, Dokdo is certainly Korean territory. The dispute over the islets originated in Imperial Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan is trying to take its neighbor’s territory, passing responsibility over to the United States and talking about the difference between administrative right and territory, while it should be repenting for the aggressive war it waged in the past.
With the discovery of the documents, we see an urgent need to find further references and materials related to the issue and promote them so that our ownership over Dokdo is accepted by international society.
The person who discovered the prime ministerial ordinance was neither our government agency nor a research center but a third-generation immigrant in Japan, Lee Yang-soo. He sued Japan’s government to get the information publicized and received some 60,000 pages related to Korea-Japan meetings. After reading every page he discovered the document. We truly appreciate his efforts.
Last year, a Korean living in the United States reported that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names was about to change the key name listing “Dokdo” to “Liancourt Rocks” and prevented the move. Public institutions, such as the Northeast Asian History Foundation, that use taxpayers’ money must regret that they haven’t done much on the issue and work harder.