GLOCOM Platform
debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
Summary Page
Search with Google
Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #285: March 18, 2005

S.Korea Says Row Over Islands Has Hurt Japan Ties

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

S.Korea Says Row Over Islands Has Hurt Japan Ties


It seems the issue is becoming the core of festivity, or a carnival, in South Korea with its assertion of Takeshima -- Dokdo (or Tokto) as they seem to call it -- being a part of their territory. In Japan, on the other hand, while the riots in Korea are being reported, most of the people have shown no interest in the triggering issue, the territorial dispute.

Takeshima consists of two islands and a few rocky atolls occupying 0.23 square kilometers, the size of a few football fields but the terrain is rugged. The islands have no fresh water resources so are not suitable for habitation. But because the warm ocean current from the south and the cold current from the north meet in the vicinity, the surrounding sea is rich in fish and algae.

There are a number of evidences to confirm Takeshima had been used as a temporary base for local (Japanese) fishermen since 17th century at latest. It was a part of life at the time, and nobody cared about "territorial rights."

In modern terms, it was in 1904 when a Japanese fisherman requested the government to lease out Takeshima to hunt sea lions. In response, the government officially registered the name as Takeshima in early 1905, and designated it the property of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture. Based on this, the Governor of Shimane Prefecture announced the details in its Prefectural Report on February 22nd of the same year. During, and afterwards, the formal and open process, there were no claims or complaints from anyone, including Korea.

Then on January 18th 1952, President Lee Seung-man of South Korea declared unilateral ocean rights (the Lee Line Declaration) and announced Takeshima was included within the Lee Line. At the time, Japan still had not recovered from the aftermath of the war, the most notable of which being it still had not regained full sovereignty -- the Peace Treaty went into effect on April 28 of that year. This, among other things, has prevented Japan from making strong protest against Korea.

Since then, and until now, the Japanese government has publicized statements from time to time, quietly stating its claim on the rights over Takeshima. There has been no attempt in any way to bother the Korean government or their guards occupying Takeshima.

On 16 March, to commemorate the centennial of Takeshima being officially assigned under their jurisdiction, the Shimane Prefecture Assembly passed an ordinance to designate Feb. 22 "Takeshima Day."

Seeing the news, the naive people in South Korea with only superficial knowledge of the whole issue, apparently incited by provocative announcements by their government and extremists, gathered to scream and yell, perhaps to vent frustration of daily lives.

Being a peace-embracing regime, Japan still has no intention of recovering Takeshima through "non-peaceful means," and a significant majority of the people back this position, But there are views expressed that if the government really believes Takeshima is a part of Japan, there seems to be a lot more it can do before peaceful means are exhausted -- starting out with calmly counter-arguing to the formal statement of the Korean government, or support the action of Shimane's assembly in an informal manner.

bullet Top
Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications