1837 Japanese Confirmation of Policy on the Ulleungdo Region

In the year 1837 Japanese smuggling activity was uncovered in the vicinity of Ulleungdo Island. So strict was the Japanese government regarding passage to this region that the person involved was executed by the Shogunate. At the same time this strict order was issued banning passage to Ulleungdo and voyages far from Japan. The purpose of this order was to prohibit sailing to foreign countries. This reaffirmed the inclusion of the Ulleungdo area as Chosun territory.

1837 Japanese document

Translation: "After interrogation of the case about sailing to across to Jukdo (Ulleungdo) severe punishment has been given to (Japanese name) and the others. People from the Yonago and Hoki would go to that island (Ulleungdo) above for fishing but this has been banned ever since the Makbu (1690s) era when that island was turned over to Chosun"

1837 Japanese document

Translation 2: "Just as it has been publicly proclaimed before as sailing abroad is strictly prohibited, and the island above therefore must not be sailed to. Sailors who travel around the nation are certainly to avoid encountering foreign vessels in the sea bear in mind not to stray too far. Make sure this information to be known to all far and wide..."

In Conclusion

Around the year 1696 Japan conceded Ulleungdo Island (Dokdo´s closest neighbor island) was Chosun territory. The above paper shows how serious the Japanese government was about restricting the travel distance permissible for Japanese nationals in the East Sea. As quoted the document warned Japanese not to stray too far it also restricted them from coming in contact with foreign vessels.

There are no Japanese historical maps or records that show Japanese visited Dokdo as a sole destination but rather as a stopover en route to Ulleungdo. Dokdo Island has little or no fresh water and could not offer adequate mooring and protection from the storms that frequent this area. Records also show Dokdo Island was two and a half days travel from Oki Islands against both prevailing winds and ocean currents. To the Japanese, Dokdo´s value was only related to what fish or forestry products they could reap from Ulleungdo. In light of this document, it is not plausible Japanese Government considered Dokdo Island of any value during this era let alone part of Japan´s inherent territory as they now assert. Here it´s also clear, as with earlier records, Japan maintained a hands-off policy in the Ulleungdo area at this time.

However, as we will see, the policy of the Japanese government would soften and illegal Japanese immigrants would later overwhelm Ulleungdo Island. As a result, in 1883, hundreds of illegal Japanese squatters had to be forcibly removed from the Ulleungdo. Again, for the third time the Japanese would later make another official announcement banning passage to Ulleungdo.