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Old U.S. document saps Japan's claim to Dokdo

All Headlines 11:50 September 12, 2012

ATLANTA, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- In yet another historic document that undermines Japan's claim to the sovereignty over Dokdo, the United States did not acknowledge the rocky outcroppings in the East Sea as Japan's territory a century ago.

The document, titled "Asiatic Pilot: East Coast of Siberia, Sakhalin Island and Korea," and drawn up by the U.S. Hydrographic Office in 1909, was obtained by Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.

It names Dokdo as Hornet Islands or Liancourt Rocks and describes them as "two barren rocky islets, covered with guano, which makes them appear white."

Dokdo, effectively controlled by South Korea, are at the center of renewed diplomatic stand-offs between the country and its neighbor Japan.

Japan has laid claim to Dokdo as a legacy of its militaristic past. Japan colonized Korea from 1910-45. Japan argues that it has laid claim to Dokdo since 1905.

Under the 1905 Taft-Katsura Agreement, according to Korean historians, the U.S. recognized Japan's sphere of influence in Korea and in return, Japan recognized the U.S. control of the Philippines.

But the century-old U.S. document has no description of Japan's ownership of Dokdo.

"The Korea Strait divides the southeast coast of Korea from the south-west coast of the Japan islands; it is divided into two channels by Tsushima," which belongs to Japan, it says.

Yoo Gwang-un, a Korean historian based in the U.S., said, "The document shows that it is not true that Japan has claimed its sovereignty over Dodko since 1905 and that the U.S. did not acknowledged it at that time."

He said the U.S. administration should openly support South Korea's ownership of Dokdo and move away from its outwardly neutral stance between the Asian allies.
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