1877 Document by the Dajokan (Council of State) Dated March 17, 1877 and Annexed Attachment

The Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs referred an inquiry into the territorial sovereignty of Ullungdo and Dokdo to the Japanese Dajokan, the Council of State on March 17, 1877.   In Japanese, Ullungdo was referred to as "Takeshima" island at the time, while Dokdo was called "Matsushima".   Attached to the inquiry were documents that referred to Dokdo as "another island", with its appearance and location in the ocean cited accurately.
The Research Bureau of the Dajokan made the following decision concerning the islands:.

Document of the Japanese Dajokan in 1877

The main body of the 1877 text, translated into English, says:

Dajoukan Order (太政官指令) 20th March 1877 (the 10th year of Meiji)

Ministers: Central office:Cabinet councilors:Asistant officers:

As to the inquiry by the Ministry of the Interior on the matter of the land registration of Takeshima and another island in the Sea of Japan that was attached separately, the former government [= the shogunate] and the corresponding country [= Chosun] had exchanged opinions since 1692 [the 5th year of Genroku] when people from Chosun came to the island [Takeshima = Ulleungdo], and in the end they decided that this country [Japan] has nothing to do with the island and they stated so. Your kind attention is drawn to the point of the inquiry, and wondering if the following order can be issued I submit this proposal. A proposal of the order Concerning the inquiry about Takeshima and another island, you should remember that this country [Japan] has nothing to do with them.

29th March 1877 (the 10th year of Meiji)

Also attached to this decision is the following annexed text:

Documents from the Japanese Dajokan in 1877.

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Translation of the annexed text:

"Isonotakeshima (Ulleungdo) is also called Takeshima. It is 120 ri (222kms) northwest of Oki. The island is about 10 ri (40kms) around....Next there is another island which is called Matsushima (Dokdo). The area of this island is approximately 30 chongbo (73 acres) and is on the same straight latitude as Ulleungdo. It is 80 ri (148kms) from Oki. Trees and bamboo are scarce, sea lions live there."

The distance given here is in ri () There were two forms of ri used at this time in Japan. One was a standard ri of 4kms (Used for land measurements). It was used in the circumference of Ulleungdo in this document (10 = 40kms). The other was a nautical ri or nautical mile which equaled 1.852 meters. Nautical or miles are/were used in international law and treaties especially regarding the limit of territorial waters. There can be no doubt given the location, name, and description the island referred to in this document was today´s Dokdo.

The ratio of the real distances in kilometers and the distances in on the 1877 document are about the same.
120:80 (distance on 1877 document ratio=.66)
240kms:157kms (actual distance ratio in kms =.65)

Documents cited from:
Myung Chul Hyun, Korean Observer, Spring Edition 1998.
Content for this page provided courtesy of Steve Barber.