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Japan Walks on Eggshells While Takeshima Remains Illegally Occupied

‘Takeshima Day’ was designated 16 years ago on February 22, 2005 and there is much documentary evidence over hundreds of years, so why is Takeshima still illegally occupied?

The Sankei Shimbun

Published

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“Sometimes I think we may as well give up the island.” 

The quote is from a 2005 Asahi Shimbun column on Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture, a group of islands under illegal occupation by South Korea. The column, which has been discussed in The Sankei Shimbun articles before, also claims, “No matter how zealous Japan tries to be, it is not possible for Japan to go to war. There is no hope of taking back the island.”

Unfortunately, South Korea may have a different view. The South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo reported on February 11 that the country’s military submitted a document to the National Assembly late last year depicting a scenario in which the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) “invade” Takeshima (called Dokdo in Korea).

In their scenario, the SDF operations are divided into three stages. The SDF would dispatch an advance troop, deploy Aegis ships, and finally land two platoons on the islands using a transport ship. 

If the article is true, it would mean that the South Korean army sees Japan as an enemy. But their scenario is so ludicrous that it is beyond anyone’s belief.

“Takeshima Day” was designated 16 years ago on February 22, 2005, the same year the Asahi column was published. Even though Takeshima is Japanese territory both historically and under international law, the “Takeshima Day” ordinance has not been enacted by the Japanese government and remains a bylaw of Shimane Prefecture. 

This year, the government chose not to send a minister to attend the Takeshima Day ceremony yet again. 

Walking on eggshells like this in fear of provoking South Korea is the reason why Takeshima is still illegally occupied. Evidently, “invading” South Korea is the last thing on Japan’s mind.

The Origin of the Takeshima Problem (2018, in Japanese, Minerva Shobo publisher) is a culmination of strenuous research by author Kenji Fujii, who explains the history of the territorial dispute that began with the Syngman Rhee Line declaration. In the book’s afterword, the author remarks that the strangest aspect of the Takeshima territorial dispute is the “asymmetry” between Japan and South Korea. While it is extremely unlikely that South Korea would ever give heed to Japan’s side of the story, it is easy to find Japanese publications claiming that Takeshima is South Korean territory. 

The Takeshima territorial dispute is a strange problem, and Japan is most definitely a strange country.

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(Find access to the Sankei column in Japanese at this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun