Japanese text lays no claim to Dokdo

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Japanese text lays no claim to Dokdo

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A map from a Japanese textbook written by Matsutaro Okamura in 1886 marks two islands - Ulleungdo and Dokdo in the East Sea - outside the Japanese border. [YONHAP]

A Japanese state textbook shows that the country had not made a territorial claim on Dokdo, a group of small islets in the East Sea, at least until the late 19th century, in the latest piece of evidence that gives weight to Korea’s argument in the territorial dispute between the two neighbors.

At the monthly seminar on Aug. 3, organized by the Seoul-based Northeast Asian History Foundation, Han Cheol-Ho, a history education professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, unveiled a new piece of information on Dokdo from the Japanese geography textbook, published in 1886.

The state-authorized textbook in question was written by Japanese scholar Matsutaro Okamura, who is believed to have taught in a Japanese school until early 1910.

The book’s map of Asia shows Japanese territory outlined in red and two islands, Ulleungdo and Dokdo in the East Sea, clearly remain outside its territory.

This border is also found in other Japanese textbooks, written by Manziro Yamagami in 1902 and 1903.

“If Japan thought Dokdo was its own, it would have marked it on the map,” Han said, adding that “It is clear that Japan didn’t recognize Dokdo as its own at that time.”

His claim is backed by another part of the book, where all the Japanese islands are written down, but information on Dokdo is nowhere to be found, an important historical record that was already introduced to the Korean academic circle in 2012.

“The geographical textbook by Okamura was authorized by the state,” Han said, “which means it was not an opinion held by an individual but by the Japanese government.

“It is vital to dispute Japanese claims that Dokdo is its own territory and that it has been illegally occupied [by Korea].”

Yonhap

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