Q&A on Dokdo
- What is the Dajokan Order of 1877, by which the Meiji government officially confirmed that Dokdo was not Japanese territory?
In the course of a land registry project during the Meiji period, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent “an Inquiry on Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and one other Island [Dokdo] in the East Sea as regards the Land Registry Project” to the Dajokan (Grand Council of State), Japan’s highest decision-making body at the time. The Ministry of Home Affairs wanted to determine whether the said islands were to be included in the project.
The Dajokan concluded that Ulleungdo and Dokdo did not belong to Japan following the diplomatic negotiations between the Edo shogunate and the Joseon (Korean) government (the Ulleungdo Dispute). Thereupon, the Dajokan issued a directive to the Ministry of Home Affairs in March 1877. The directive states, “Regarding Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and one other island [Dokdo]…bear in mind that our country [Japan] has nothing to do with them.” This is the Dajokan Order of 1877.
Dajokan Order of 1877 / Isotakeshima Ryakuzu (Simplified Map of Takeshima)
- March 20, 10th year of Meiji
- Regarding the inquiry from the Ministry of Home Affairs about Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and one other island [Dokdo] in the East Sea pertaining to the land registry project
- Considering the understanding that our country [Japan] has nothing to do with the two islands as per the conclusion of the negotiations between the old government [Edo Shogunate] and the country concerned [Korea], we propose to issue the following”
- Regarding Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and one other island [Dokdo] about which an inquiry was submitted, bear in mind that our country [Japan] has nothing to do with them.
Along with its note of inquiry, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent Isotakeshima Ryakuzu (Simplified Map of Takeshima(Ulleungdo) – Japan used to refer to Ulleungdo as Isotakeshima) as a reference. Given that Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) appear on the map, it is evident that Dokdo is the “one other island” referred to in the phrase “Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and one other island” in the Dajokan Order of 1877.
The Dajokan Order of 1877 clearly demonstrates the Japanese government’s understanding that the status of Ulleungdo and Dokdo had been confirmed by the conclusion of the Ulleungdo Dispute between the Edo shogunate and the Joseon government in the 17th century.
It also mentions of “how Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and Matsushima [Dokdo] have come under Joseon’s jurisdiction” in “Chosenkoku Kōsai Shimatsu Naitansho” (Report on Past Interactions with Joseon). This report, drafted by Hakubo Sada and a team of officials based on their inspection of Joseon, was submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1870, seven years before the Dajokan Order of 1877. It reveals the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time regarded the two islands as Joseon’s territory.