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Dokdo not marked as Japanese territory in 1904 school textbook

Yonhap Korea Stories 15:09 March 31, 2021

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- A Japanese elementary school textbook published about a century ago did not define the easternmost Korean islets of Dokdo as Japanese territory, a Seoul-based public foundation said Wednesday.

The state-funded Northeast Asian History Foundation disclosed the old Japanese geography textbook printed in 1904 at a seminar of history experts in Seoul, slamming Tokyo for its latest approval of school textbooks renewing territorial claims to Dokdo.

A textbook screening committee under Japan's education ministry approved 296 textbooks Tuesday for first-year high school students, including 30 kinds for social studies subjects that contain Tokyo's territorial claims to Dokdo.

This photo provided by the Northeast Asian History Foundation shows a Japanese elementary school geography textbook published in 1904 without marking Dokdo as Japanese territory. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

At the seminar, the history foundation made public three other historical materials produced in Japan in the 19th to 20th centuries to rebut Japan's claim to Dokdo. Those materials were donated by Lee Hyun, an elementary school teacher in Cheorwon, northeast of Seoul, late last year, the foundation said.

"Dokdo, as well as Ulleung Island (another Korean island in the East Sea), are not marked as Japanese territory anywhere on maps in the 1904 geography textbook," Lee said at the seminar.

Lee then argued that Tokyo's territorial claim to Dokdo is not logical because Japan's central administrative agency already approved a school textbook excluding Dokdo from Japanese territory 117 years ago.

Lee then mentioned the content of another geography textbook and an old Japanese student atlas, both published in 1897 for middle school students.

In those books, the territories of Japan and the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) are drawn in different colors, and Ulleung and Dokdo islands are not defined as Japanese territory, Lee said.

"Dokdo doesn't appear in most of the old Japanese school maps collected so far. Thus it can be said that the Japanese government had not properly maintained territorial claims to Dokdo before 1910, excluding an administrative notice issued by the Shimane Prefecture in 1905," Lee said.

Dokdo lies just 90 kilometers east of South Korea's Ulleung Island, while Oki Island of Shimane is more than 160 km away.

South Korea has maintained a small Coast Guard unit on Dokdo since 1954 in a show of its effective control of the easternmost islets, but Japan has consistently claimed sovereignty over the territory, which is rich in fish and hydrate gas.


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