The Takeshima isles – or Dokdo, as they are called by South Koreans – have been at the center of a long-standing territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea. The islets in the Sea of Japan are currently controlled by Seoul, as they maintain a small police force there, but these recent discoveries have seen to give strength to Japan’s claims. Two drafts by an official mapmaker dated back to 1760 may be the earliest proof that the islands were part of Japan as early as that time.
The Shimane Prefectural Government said on Thursday that it has confirmed the existence of these two rough drafts of maps of Japan from the 18th century, and that these drafts may serve as the basis for Japan’s continued claim to the Takeshima islets. The map drafts are named “Kaisei Nihon Fuso Bunrizu” made in 1768, and a rougher draft titled “Nihonzu.” Apparently, the drafts were made by a Sekisui Nagakubo, a geographer that hailed from what today is known as Ibaraki Prefecture. Japan’s claims have earlier been based on another map called “Kaisei Nihon Yochirotei Zenzu” that was made by the same mapmaker, but it seems that these new drafts are dated earlier and would give more strength that Takeshima was part of Japanese territory at that time. These new drafts show islands called Matsushima – what the Takeshima islands were called at the time – located northwest of the Oki island chain in what is now Shimane Prefecture. Nagakubo’s descendants had given the rough drafts to the Takahagi board of education in Ibaraki Prefecture.
The two maps it seems, both made in the 1760s, serve to reinforce Japan’s claim that the islands are historically Japanese, as stated by the Shimane Prefectural government. South Korea had occupied and controlled the islets after the war. According to a poll, majority of Japanese citizens still are convinced that Takeshima is part of Japanese territory. The survey conducted by Japan’s Cabinet Office showed that around 60 percent of Japanese citizens saw Takeshima as part of Japanese territory. The Japanese central government has continued to maintain that Takeshima is Japan’s territory historically, and that South Korea’s control of the islands has “no legal justification.”
[via Jiji Press]