South Koreans Launch 220-Km Swim to Islands Disputed with Japan

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YONHAP / EPA

South Korean swimmers are headed to the islets known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, and which are claimed by both countries, on Aug. 14, 2012

* UPDATE: South Korean media report that the team of swimmers reached the islands at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday — six and a half hours ahead of schedule. The entire relay reportedly took 48 hours and 30 minutes.

Tensions are rising once again over the tiny islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, and claimed by both countries, with the latest spat coming at a bizarre intersection of pop culture, sports and politics. This week dozens of South Koreans are holding a relay swim of 220 km from the South Korean coast to the islands in order to reassert the nation’s sovereignty over the disputed territory. The swimmers, led by pop singer Kim Jang-hoon, are scheduled to arrive in the early afternoon of Aug. 15 — a day that marks the 67th anniversary of South Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial rule. Their swim follows a visit last Friday by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak — the first ever by the country’s top leader — which prompted Japan to summon the South Korean ambassador in Tokyo and to recall its top diplomat from Seoul. Japan also suggested that it might take the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice.

(MORE: Why South Korea Is in an Uproar over Intelligence Sharing with Japan)

The islands are located in the gulf between the two countries — known as the Sea of Japan by Japanese and the East Sea by South Koreans — and are about the same distance from each. Seoul and Tokyo have been playing tug-of-war over the ownership of the islets for decades; South Korea stationed a coast-guard detachment on the islands in 1954 and has administered the islets since then. Despite their size, ownership of the islands is important for more than just national pride; they lie in rich fishing grounds and are near a seabed that could contain vast natural-gas deposits.

The latest dispute flared up late last week at the Olympics, when Korean soccer player Park Jong-woo displayed a political sign saying “Dokdo Is Our Territory” after the country won the bronze-medal match against Japan. The International Olympic Committee, which prohibits political statements by athletes, withheld his medal, barred him from participating in the medal ceremony and asked the football-governing body, FIFA, to discipline him.

MORE: Unlikely Contenders: What Explains the Koreas’ Olympic Strength?

15 comments
Quatro Naruhodo Briefs
Quatro Naruhodo Briefs

Although there is no record of the exact date of Takeshima's discovery, the islands have been known to Japanese people since the beginning of the Edo Period (1603-1868) at the latest.

In the year 1618, Jinkichi Oya and Ichibei Murakawa of Yonago City received permission from the Shogunate Government to sail to Ulleung Island in order to catch abalone, sea lions, and to cut down trees and bamboo for lumber. On their way to Ulleung Island, they used Takeshima as a midway port, and also hunted and fished there. In 1661, the Oya Family and Murakawa Family were granted official permission to travel to Takeshima by the Shogunate Government.

 

The Shogunate Government prohibited visits to Ulleung Island in 1696 owing to conflict between Japan and Korea, but visits to Takeshima were not banned. In 1836, a man named Imazuya Hachiemon was punishued because he sailed to Ulleung Island “on the pretext of visiting Takeshima”. Knowledge of Takeshima was maintained throughout the Edo Period by recording the islands in books and on maps.

 

After the Meiji Restoration, large numbers of fishermen  began to visit Ulleung Island again, and Takeshima was used as a midway port. Since the end of the second decade of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), people of the Oki Islands have hunted and fished for abalone, sea lions, and other marine life on Takeshima.

 

Given the historical background of Takeshima, there is no doubt that it belongs to Japan.

Quatro Naruhodo Briefs
Quatro Naruhodo Briefs

Although there is no record of the exact date of Takeshima's discovery, the islands have been known to Japanese people since the beginning of the Edo Period (1603-1868) at the latest.

In the year 1618, Jinkichi Oya and Ichibei Murakawa of Yonago City received permission from the Shogunate Government to sail to Ulleung Island in order to catch abalone, sea lions, and to cut down trees and bamboo for lumber. On their way to Ulleung Island, they used Takeshima as a midway port, and also hunted and fished there. In 1661, the Oya Family and Murakawa Family were granted official permission to travel to Takeshima by the Shogunate Government.

 

The Shogunate Government prohibited visits to Ulleung Island in 1696 owing to conflict between Japan and Korea, but visits to Takeshima were not banned. In 1836, a man named Imazuya Hachiemon was punishued because he sailed to Ulleung Island “on the pretext of visiting Takeshima”. Knowledge of Takeshima was maintained throughout the Edo Period by recording the islands in books and on maps.

 

After the Meiji Restoration, large numbers of fishermen  began to visit Ulleung Island again, and Takeshima was used as a midway port. Since the end of the second decade of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), people of the Oki Islands have hunted and fished for abalone, sea lions, and other marine life on Takeshima.

 

Given the historical background of Takeshima, there is no doubt that it belongs to Japan.

Yamato
Yamato

 This territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea over Takeshima(Dokdo) is quite simple.

1. There is no historical fact that Korea had ever exercised any "effective control" over the islets prior to 1905.

2. Japan officially incorporated the islets in 1905 strictly following the procedures prescribed in the International law.

3.

After the WW2, the Allies determined that Takeshima/Dokdo should remain

Japanese territory in the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951.

4.

Though the South Korean government had been informed of the

determination by the U.S. government in those diplomatic documents like

"Rusk documents", they ignored this international determination and

started occupying the islets illegally from 1952.

God
God

Why the fuck don't they share it? the only two civilized East Asian countries and they are bickering over a fucking island.

Jake Ashton
Jake Ashton

this is obviously a ploy by the south korean president to take the focus off of the intelligence-sharing fiasco as well as the struggling economy.

using nationalistic propaganda to get the citizens riled up about something other than government deficiencies is a tactic many countries and leaders have used in the past.

intelligence-sharing between south korea and japan would have been a good thing towards the stability of east asia and both countries.

now china is laughing in their faces for their latest spat.

lostcheese
lostcheese

wow, i hope this situation doesn't escalate into something larger.

Phillip Park
Phillip Park

Dokdo isn't in the middle of Korea and Japan...it's closer to Korea than it is to Japan. Not many people may acknowledge the existence of Ulleungdo, but taking into account its obvious existence, i think the article got some facts mingled

DBJW
DBJW

http://en.dokdo.go.kr/korean_d...

Dokdo is the easternmost end of Korea's territories and is located 87.4 km to the southeast of Ulleungdo of korea and 157.5 km to the northwest of Oki island of Japan.

Dalsuh
Dalsuh

The fact is Koreans have always lived on Dokdo, not Japanese. 

Dokdo is closer to Korea.

Koreans don't need to incorporate what was already theirs, that's why Japanese incorporated the islets, they were trying to steal "legally".

Koreans occupy Dokdo atm and Japan can't do anything about it but cry to the international community that they can't keep their war booty.

A Japanese is one of the judges at ICJ, so Koreans aren't stupid.

There are countless documents not only Korean but Japanese that confirm Dokdo is Korean, that's why Japan had to incorporate Dokdo. 

Jake Ashton
Jake Ashton

actually, takeshima was uninhabited until quite recently.

using your logic however, you could argue that half of texas belongs to mexico where mexicans are the majority. they have lived there for generations and mexico is closer to texas than washington d.c.

the arguments using proximity and inhabitants cannot be a basis for territorial rights.

i'm curious to know about what documents you are referring to however.

JakeLewisAshton
JakeLewisAshton

@Dalsuh @@Dalsuh "Currently, population in Dokdo is three... Jong Duk Choi was the first registered resident of Dokdo.  As a resident of Ulleungdo Island, he moved to Dokdo in March 1965" 

from a korean govt website
http://en.dokdo.go.kr/korean_dokdo_people_of_dokdo.do

now please show me the documents that you have been speaking of.

Dalsuh
Dalsuh

Your from the most imperialistic country ever in history.  Of course you will sympathize with the Japanese.

Dalsuh
Dalsuh

Can you provide documentation that Dokdo was only recently inhabited?

Dalsuh
Dalsuh

Your nuts.  Texas had to struggle for independence, have you heard of the Lone Star State or Sam Houston?

Absolutely ridiculous to compare Texas with Dokdo.