Japan from the inside out

Posts Tagged ‘Shimojo M.’

Shimojo Masao (19): The misapprehensions of the Takeshima issue

Posted by ampontan on Friday, November 23, 2012

Japanese diplomacy in recent years has been the captive of territorial issues with neighboring countries and in a state of disorder from historical issues. The problem originated with two incidents.

The first was on 7 September 2010 when patrol vessels of Japan’s Coast Guard were deliberately rammed by a Chinese fishing boat. The other occurred on 10 August 2012. That was the date of the performance of President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, who became the first South Korean president to go ashore on Takeshima. Why did these incidents develop into historical issues, and why did they become diplomatic cards for use in condemning Japan? The reason is simple.

There is a tradition in China and South Korea for using historical issues as diplomatic cards. The negligence of the Japanese government means that their response has been as the two countries hoped. In fact, the Japanese government simplistically publicized dialogues about history textbooks and the comfort women without clarifying the actual state of affairs in the hope that the problems would blow over. As a result, they adopted the “neighboring country clause” in the 1980s that adopted a consideration of the wishes of neighboring countries when editing textbooks. They also issued the Kono Declaration about the comfort women that included a reference to the Japanese military, even though they were unable to confirm that the military engaged in compulsion.

The distortion of historical fact is a serious problem for South Korean history textbooks, however. South Korea claims it was Japan that seized Takeshima, when in fact the opposite is true. In regard to the comfort women, South Korean brokers operated comfort women facilities during the Korean War in the 1950s that UN forces patronized. Also, South Korean military forces that fought in the Vietnam War patronized comfort women facilities where Vietnamese women were employed.

While there is no question that the issue of war and sex is one that human society must overcome, that issue remains as part of the military base issue. American service personnel have repeatedly assaulted women both in Okinawa, where most of the American bases in Japan are located, and in South Korea.

In this context, South Korean claims about the comfort women issue differ from the actual circumstances. After then-LDP Vice-President Kanemaru Shin visited North Korea in the 1990s and raised the issue of postwar reparations, citizens’ groups in South Korea began calling for postwar reparations to resolve the comfort woman issue. What those groups seek is to recover the honor of the women by using the Japanese military. The South Korean government resolved that issue, however, with the 1965 treaty that normalized relations between that country and Japan.

The 1993 announcement of the Kono Declaration that incorporated South Korean considerations and referred to military involvement caused a significant change in the South Korean position. With the Japanese government’s recognition of military involvement, they demanded compensation from Japan and began to employ the international community as a stage to castigate the Japanese. President Lee’s demand for the resolution of the comfort woman issue and an apology from the Emperor in August 2012 was another South Korean government attempt to justify their occupation of Takeshima that has continued since 1954.

But the Takeshima issue is completely unrelated to the comfort woman issue. Why has it been argued that they are related? Here we should bring up a distinctive aspect of South Korean society today. Takeshima became Japanese territory with the Cabinet resolution of January 1905. Takeshima at that time was terra nullius, land unclaimed by any country. (That fact has now been validated.) The South Korean government seized it from Japan in January 1952 with its declaration of the Syngman Rhee (Yi Seung-man) line. That country’s government has tried to cover up the fact of that seizure by using the diplomacy card of past historical issues, including the comfort women and an Imperial apology.

South Korea seized the islets three months before Japan was to regain its standing in the international community with the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Japan’s Constitution prohibits the use of military force to resolve international disputes, and diplomatic negotiations with South Korea at the time would have been difficult. Using the Syngman Rhee line as a basis, the South Korean government engaged in hostage diplomacy by detaining and holding a total of 2,791 Japanese fishermen until relations were restored in 1965.

The Japanese government proposed to South Korea in September 1954 that it resolve the Takeshima dispute by taking it to the International Court of Justice, but the Koreans refused one month later. Instead, they claimed that Takeshima was “the first sacrifice in Japan’s invasion of Korea”. That’s because Japan incorporated the islets in 1905 and the two countries merged in 1910.

But the South Korean historical awareness is an interpretation of the past from a contemporary perspective. Therefore, it is inevitable that it would not be based on historical fact. This criticism of the past from a contemporary perspective and seeking a settlement is a cultural phenomenon that originates in party factional struggles during the Joseon period. Every time there is a presidential succession in South Korea, the old president is accused of crimes and an accounting sought. That involves the criticism of the previous administration by the person who is the head of the new administration. It is a means by which they emphasize their legitimacy.

At the end of his term of office, President Lee Myung-bak landed on Takeshima to win popular acclaim. The suicide of President Roh Moo-hyun was a tragicomedy that arose as a result of the political culture of the Korean Peninsula. From that milieu, South Korea has repudiated entirely the facts of Japanese rule. Driving their impulse to justify their nation-state is a tradition of criticizing the previous administration that has survived into the 21st century.

But it is not possible for a country that screams about Japan as an invader to justify its illegal occupation of Takeshima. That’s because there is no historical basis for the claim that the islets were Korean territory. The South Koreans claim that Takeshima was Korean territory 1,500 years ago. The grounds for that claim is the notation for 512 in the Samguk Sagi of 1145, a historical record of the three ancient kingdoms of Korea. It is recorded that the Usan territory was part of the Silla Kingdom. The South Koreans think Takeshima had to have been one of the ancillary islands of Usan.

But the notation for 512 in the Samguk Sagi and the Samguk Yusa of the late 13th century (a collection of legends and folktales about the Three Kingdoms) state that the Usan territory was the island of Ulleong. There is no mention of Takeshima being an ancillary island. To make the claim that Takeshima was an ancillary island of Ulleong, they quote a passage from the Yeojiji in the Dongguk Munheon Bigo, which dates from 1770. That passage reads, “Ulleong and Usan are all part of the Usan territory. Usan is therefore the Japanese (territory) Matsushima (now Takeshima).” Thus the chain runs from the 512 incorporation of Usan into the Silla Kingdom, and the idea that Takeshima was the island of Usan which was ancillary to Ulleong.

But the original text of the Yeojiji does not state that Usan was the Japanese territory of Matsushima. All it says is that Usan and Ulleong were the same island. The text quoted in the Yeojiji was rewritten in the process of being edited for inclusion in the Dongguk Munheon Bigo. Thus, South Korea has created a false history from text that was altered, and uses that as the basis for its claim that Takeshima was Korean territory 1,500 years ago. Therefore, South Korea has no historical title from which to claim territorial rights. They have mobilized the comfort woman issue and an Imperial apology to condemn Japan as an invader, and use that as the means to stifle Japanese objections. This can only deceive the international community.

The South Korean historical awareness that Takeshima was the first sacrifice of the Japanese invasion of Korea is a misapprehension that ignores history.

– Shimojo Masao, Takushoku University

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Shimojo Masao (18): Excerpts from a panel discussion

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, November 15, 2012

ON 14 September, Prof. Shimojo Masao, author and professor Ikeda Nobuo, and LDP upper house member Katayama Satsuki filmed a panel discussion for broadcast on Nico Nico, a website for videos in Japan similar to YouTube. The subject was Japanese-South Korean relations. Here are some excerpts.

Shimojo: Liberal Democratic Party members in the Diet repeatedly asked (Deputy Prime Minister) Okada Katsuya and (Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry) Edano Yukio whether they thought South Korea has illegally occupied Takeshima. They answered that they would not make a clear statement because it was not in accord with the national interest. They refused to say that Takeshima was illegally occupied. It seems somehow that, in some underlying way, they think Takeshima belongs to South Korea.

The Democratic Party of Japan has absolutely no understanding of the history of their own country, and no view of where they want to lead the nation. The politicians are not looking at their country, they’re looking at their own election districts. They’re putting their own lives first. (N.B.: That’s a play on words using the party’s slogan of “Putting the People’s Lives First”.)

… South Korean President Lee Myong-bak not only went to Takeshima, but also was disrespectful of the Emperor. He did that because there is a member of the Japanese Diet who wanted to make a deal with South Korea and resolve the historical issues by having the Emperor go to South Korea and apologize.

Ikeda: What?

Katayama: No!

Shimojo: Yes, it’s true. It’s Ozawa Ichiro. He visited South Korea in December 2009, going by way of China. During the morning he gave a talk at Kookmin University in which he said the Emperor’s origins were in the Baekche Kingdom. He also offered the theory that Japan was conquered by a tribe of horsemen. At a news conference after his talk, he said, “The government decides the Emperor’s visits to South Korea,” and “We can make the Emperor visit South Korea.”

On 31 August this year, the Dong-a Ilbo reported that during his talks with President Lee during his 2009 visit, Mr. Ozawa told him, “When I become prime minister, I’ll recognize Takeshima as South Korean territory to defuse the hatred of the South Korean people.” In other words, he told them that he’d give them Takeshima. This was reported based on the statement of a “high (South Korean) government official”.

The Dong-a Ilbo was asked whether they had made a mistake, but they’ve never printed a retraction. The government claims it is a mistake because they didn’t identify the informant….

…First, we must recognize that the culture, civilization, and history of Japan and the Korean Peninsula are completely different.

For example, as we recently saw again, there are anti-Japanese demonstrations and violence in South Korean and China. In contrast, Japanese seldom take actions of that sort. Some people say that’s because Japanese young people are lazy and apathetic, but it’s really because the civilization and culture are different.

Though Japan is part of the same Confucian cultural sphere, it had a social structure characterized by regional authority. The culture that developed among the townspeople in the castle towns and the culture of the samurai created clearly separate roles in society, and everyone knew their role.

On the Korean Peninsula and China, however, it is always a relationship between the rulers and the ruled. A person will be buried unless they constantly express themselves. That’s why they are always so self-assertive…

…Historically, there is a tradition in Korean society of (literally) “being opposed to the correct”. There were three dynasties on the peninsula — Silla, Goryeo, and Choson — and each successive dynasty created their “correct history”. In other words, they created the “state history”. These histories always held that the previous dynasties were “evil”, and correct history began with the creation of a new dynasty.

Therefore, (on the Korean Peninsula) “correct history” does not always align with historical fact. There is instead a distortion of history to constantly justify oneself. There has been a long tradition of maintaining one’s legitimacy by making others recognize that they are correct.

Today, the South Korean presidents lose their power at the end of their term, and his successor often sends him to prison. That’s how they make people recognize their legitimacy. That’s the culture.


* Note again the distinction between that which is “correct” and that which is not. That’s because the Koreans were traditionally Sinocentric culturalists of their own.

* What the South Koreans consider an Imperial apology is not simply a public statement, but getting down on one’s hands and knees in the manner of Willy Brandt in Warsaw. That’s the reason for the Times Square billboard.

* Was Mr. Ozawa being a statesman with his offer, or did it have anything to do with his mother’s family being ethnically Korean? (Jeju, apparently). No, I did not see her family register. Yes, I have it on good authority.

* For the record: Mr. Ozawa denied the story when it appeared in the Dong-a Ilbo.

Posted in China, History, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Shimojo Masao (17): Information war

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 28, 2012

THE debate over both the Senkaku islets and Takeshima, neither of which should be pending matters at all, has emerged as a major issue in East Asia. One factor is the inept diplomacy of the Japanese government. This situation will change, however, if the world is engulfed in an information war.

The South Korean news media reported yesterday that newspapers in both Spain and France criticized Japan over the Takeshima issue. The Europeans used the South Korean claim that Japanese documents exist which show the islets were not Japanese territory during the Edo period.

With these territorial disputes as a backdrop, the Russian and Chinese have begun making appeals to public opinion. This is dangerous, because the United States is now involved in a confrontation with the Muslim world. It is possible the Russian and Chinese trend could be employed for use in anti-American criticism.

There are problems with the Japanese diplomatic efforts at the United Nations. While China and Japan are couching the Senkakus and Takeshima territorial questions as historical issues, Japan is asserting that they are matters of international law.

The strategy is to brand Japan as invaders, linking the territorial issues to the comfort women in South Korea’s case, and to the Second World War in China’s case. Not only does this render the Japanese objection that there are no territorial issues meaningless, the stronger Japan speaks out, the more likely third parties will doubt what it says.

The UN Secretary-General is now a South Korean. China and Russia are permanent members of the Security Council. The Chinese have already distributed a paper to the council claiming that the Senkakus are Chinese territory.

Regardless of how often Japan insists there is no territorial issue, if the Chinese say that the Senkakus have been theirs since the 15th century, third parties will be likely to side with the Chinese claim. The mass media reports from Spain and France that side with South Korea are the result of South Korean PR.

There is no documentary evidence showing that the Japanese incorporation of the Senkakus and Takeshima was the result of an invasion. That some are making the entirely opposite interpretation shows there is a problem with the Japanese response.

Contemporary Japanese diplomacy has come to resemble that during the sequence of events from the Mukden Incident to the Second World War.

– Shimojo Masao, Takushoku University


Addressing the UN General Assembly session in New York, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said:

“The Diaoyutai have been Chinese territory since ancient times. We strongly urge Japan to immediately cease behavior that harms Chinese territorial sovereignty.”


“(Japan) should take definite action to correct its errors, and return to the course of resolving the dispute through negotiations.”


“Japan stole the islets at the end of the 1895 war….(The Japanese nationalization) is a serious challenge to the objectives and principles of the UN charter.”

Kodama Kazuo, Japan’s deputy permanent representative, exercised the right of rebuttal to argue that China didn’t begin to make this territorial claim until the 1970s. The Chinese UN ambassador came back with: “Japan persists in colonialism”.

Posted in China, History, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Shimojo Masao (16): The Senkaku Islets Issue and Japan’s Response

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 21, 2012

THE incident of 7 September 2010 in which a Chinese fishing boat collided with two patrol boats of the Japan Maritime Safety Agency seems to have revived China’s traditional hegemonism. Whenever a new dynasty in China has been established and the nation’s strength has grown, history repeats itself as the Chinese launch military invasions of neighboring countries, subjugate them, and create a system of vassalage with the surrounding countries. China’s national strength has again grown quite substantially, and they are now exhibiting similar behavior. This was also repeated in the years immediately following the Second World War.

The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949 after the end of that war. At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party attacked East Turkistan (now part of the Xingiang Uighur Autonomous Region), and brought Tibet under their control. Now, China claims the territory of the Senkaku islets and the Spratly Islands. They are also hotly contesting with South Korea the possession of Ieodo (a submerged reef 4.6 meters below the surface of the sea, which the Chinese call Suyanjiao) in South Korea’s exclusive economic zone.

But we have something to confirm first. The Senkaku islets were incorporated as Japanese territory through a Cabinet declaration of 14 January 1895. It is also a fact that Japan has continued to maintain effective control of them since then.

The immediate background

China and Taiwan first expressed an interest in the Senkakus in June 1971. That’s when the “Agreement between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands returning Okinawa to Japan” was signed. The Senkakus were included as part of the Okinawa islands.

The same month, Taiwan’s government issued a declaration through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the islets were part of the Republic of China’s territory and incorporated in Taiwan Province. That December, the Chinese government said that the Senkakus were “islands incorporated in Taiwan, and as with Taiwan, these islands have since ancient times been part of the indivisible land of China. It is illegal to include our Diaoyutai and other islands in the region that will be returned to Japan through the agreement between the Japanese and American governments.” They also declared, “The Chinese people will by all means recover Diaoyutai and the other islands incorporated in Taiwan.”

The Chinese government declared the Okinawa islands as part of the “First Island Chain” for national defense, and designated both Taiwan and the Senkakus as part of their “core interests”. They consider their Foreign Ministry declaration of 31 December 1971 to be still valid. For the Chinese, the ultimate objective is to gain control of the Senkaku islets.

One has the sense that this pending issue between the two countries came suddenly to the forefront with the incident involving the Chinese fishing boat two years ago. Now, Japan must see clearly the traditional Chinese diplomatic stance and respond strategically.

This article uses Chinese documents to verify from a historical perspective whether or not the Senkaku islets were “part of the Republic of China’s territory”, or “part of the indivisible territory of China since ancient times”. This is the urgent necessity before us.

The Japanese government gave names to 39 uninhabited islands, including those of the Senkaku islets, in Japan’s exclusive economic zone as of January 31 this year. The State Oceanic Administration of the People’s Republic of China retaliated by giving names to 71 islands, including reefs near the Senkaku islets. The day after Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura announced the names of the uninhabited islands, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, printed an article in their 17 January edition that designated the Senkaku islets as a core national interest for which China’s security admitted no compromise. It is the same designation given to Tibet and Taiwan. They added that the islets had been “an integral part of Chinese territory since ancient times.” This historical interpretation is well worth noting. It is the logic that the Senkaku islets were Chinese territory before their incorporation into Japan. It is the same logic of South Korea, which holds that Japan unlawfully seized Takeshima during the Russo-Japanese War.

Further, the Naha (Okinawa) Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution made the decision on 15 March to hand down a mandatory indictment of the Chinese fishing boat captain involved in the collision in the Senkakus. Soon after, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs media spokesman Liu Weimin, claimed, “The Senkaku islets and their ancillary islets have been an integral part of Chinese territory since ancient times…Japan has no right to conduct official business of any kind in this area. Any civil proceedings adopted by Japan against a Chinese citizen are illegal and invalid.”

The following day, two maritime research vessels from the State Oceanic Administration encroached on Japanese territory near the Senkaku islets. Hailed by a patrol boat from the Maritime Safety Agency, they responded, “We are performing our duties in this area. These islands, including Diaoyutai, are Chinese territory.” Once again, the historical interpretation that the islets were “an integral part of Chinese territory since ancient times” is the basis for this behavioral principle.

What is the origin of the historical awareness that has caused China to become so forceful? The basis for their argument is “The Sankaku Islets: A historical elucidation of the Diaoyutai”, a 1972 book by former Kyoto University Associate Professor Inoue Kiyoshi. In the preface, Mr. Inoue wrote:

“Didn’t Japan seize the Senkakus from China during the first Japan-China war? If that is true, the instant that Japan surrendered and unconditionally accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration of the Allied powers, including China, they automatically had to return the islets to China based on the territorial clause of the declaration. Is not Japan’s belief that they are still Japanese territory nothing other than a recurrence of Japanese imperialism?”

The thinking is the same as in the Chinese Foreign Ministry declaration of December 1971, and the Chinese have utilized the Inoue book to the maximum. In fact, after the collision between the Chinese fishing boat and the Japanese ships occurred, Chinese Foreign Ministry media spokesman Jiang Yubao insisted that the Senkakus were Chinese territory and cited Mr. Inoue’s book as a basis for the claim.

Inoue Kiyoshi’s motivation for writing the book was to establish two points:

1. The Diaoyutai were not terra nullius, but Chinese territory dating to the Ming Dynasty.

2. Japan’s possession was an act of plunder that took advantage of their victory in the war.

There were similar views in both Taiwan and China, but the book was prized in China and quickly translated into Chinese because it was written by a Japanese scholar.

Does the view of Mr. Inoue that the islets are Chinese territory have any basis in historical fact? Let’s examine Chinese historical awareness as the current tension surrounding the Senkakus continues.

The problems with the Chinese claim

The grounds for the Chinese claim of the islets is that they were used as a navigational marker on the route taken the emissaries sent to the Ryukyu Kingdom (now Okinawa) when they were a Chinese vassalage during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This is, in fact, true. The argument that the islets were Chinese territory during the Ming Dynasty is found in the name Diaoyu, one of the islets mentioned in the Shun Feng Xiang Song, (Voyage with a Tail Wind) a navigational guidebook from 1403.

The Chinese have also used the records of the emissaries sent to the Ryukyus since the Ming Dynasty as proof of their claim that the islets have historically been their territory. The name of the islets (either Diaoyu or Diaoyutai) were cited in Shi Liu Qiu Lu (Records of the Envoys to Ryukyu) by Chen Kan (1534); Chong Bian Shi Liu Qiu Lu, a revised version of the same records by Guo Rulin (1562); Shi Liu Qiu Za Lu (Assorted Records of the Envoys to Ryukyu) by Wang Ji (1683); Zhong Shan Yun Xin Lu (Records of Messages from Zhong Shan) by Xu Baoguang (1719); Liuqiu Guo Zhi Lue (History of the Ryukyu Kingdom) by Zhou Huang (1756); Shi Liuqiu Lu (Record of Ryukyu Missions) by Li Dingyuan (1800); and Xuliuqiu Guozhilue by Zhai Kun (1808). The Xu Baoguang document and the Zhou Huang document had appended navigation charts on which the islets of Diaoyu, Huangweiyu, and Chiweiyu were shown.

Further, the Chen Kan document explains that Kumejima (part of Okinawa Prefecture) is part of the Ryukyus, and the Wang Ji document states that the “boundary between China and the outside” lies between Kumejima and Chiweyu. That is the basis for the Inoue and Chinese insistence that the Senkakus are part of Chinese territory.

In the fall of 2005, Haigyoji, supposedly a lost section of Fusheng Liuji, was discovered in a used book stall in China. One passage read, “Sighted Diaoyutai on the morning of the 13th”. China regards this as ironclad proof that the Senkakus belong to China. In the Chinese interpretation, Haigyoji is a depiction of the main character of the Fusheng Liuji who travels to the Ryukyus in 1808 in the company of Zhai Kun, the Imperial emissary.

Using the Haigyoji as the basis for the territorial claim does not hold up, however. The Imperial emissary Zhai Kun sailed from the port of Fuzhou early in May 1808 for Naha in Okinawa, and along the way he passed Wuhumen, Jilongshan, Diaoyutai, Chiweiyu, Heigouyang, Gumishan, and Machishan, arriving in Naha on the night of the 17th. Zhai wrote a poetry anthology titled Dongying Baiyong (One Hundred Verses from the East) in which he included a poem of eight lines called Hanghai Bayong describing his voyage from Taiping to Naha. Each line in the poem is a five-character verse, and one of them is titled Jilongshan, a mountain located in the province of Taiwan. Zhai wrote that this mountain was considered to be the boundary of China, and that Jilongshan of Taiwan province was the boundary of the Qing Dynasty.

Zhai wrote of Gumishan (Kumejima) as his ship neared the Ryukyu kingdom. In the footnote to this verse, he writes that this mountain is within the boundary of the Ryukyus. (N.B.: There are mountains on Kumejima, which is apparent from the Chinese name Zhai used.) In other words, Zhan is saying that Mt. Jilong (Jilongshan) is the boundary of the Qing Dynasty and Gumishan is the boundary of the Ryukyus. Thus, Diaoyutai and Chiweiyu, which are between those two, must therefore be terra nullius, neither part of the Qing Empire or of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Zhai Kun once again wrote that Mt. Jilong was the border of China in a subsequent work titled Du Hai Yin Yong Xi Cheng Peng Po Lang Tu Yun, which was rhymed verse based on the idea of a brave sea voyage to the western border. Just because the passage in Haigyoji reads, “Sighted Diaoyutai on the morning of the 13th” does not mean there is ironclad proof that the Senkakus were Chinese territory.

We turn to the question of why Zhai Kun regarded Mt. Jilong as the boundary of China. In his book Dongying Baoyong (One Hundred Verses of the East Sea), Zhai wrote that Mt. Jilong was “a mountain on the edge of Taiwan province”. The provincial government in Taiwan at the time held that Mt. Jilong was the northern border. The Qing Dynasty placed that government in Taiwan in 1684, and they cited that mountain as the border to the province. The Taiwan Fuzhi (History of Taiwan Province), compiled annually by Jiang Yuying during the reign of Emperor Kanxi, states that the prefecture extends 2,315 li north to Mt. Jilong, That is echoed in the revised 1696 edition, when the same distance to the mountain is cited and the mountain is called the boundary. The 1696 edition contains this map. The documentation cites the same distance to the mountain and calls it the boundary.

The Jilong Castle and Mt. Jilong are located near the present-day city of Keelung. Here is the basis of Zhai Kun’s statement in the Dongying Baiyong that the mountain was the boundary of China.

Therefore, the arguments that the islets were Chinese territory because the name Diaoyu was mentioned in the Shun Feng Xiang Song of the Ming Dynasty, or that the name Diaoyutai is noted in the records of Chinese emissaries, do not constitute proof that the Senkakus are Chinese territory. Taiwan did not become Chinese territory until the Qing Dynasty. In fact, the Daming Yitongzhi (Waiyu) (The Great Ming Journal of Unification [Foreigners]), an official geographical reference compiled during the Ming Dynasty in 1461, states that the Penghu Islands, also known as the Pescadores, located between Fujian Province and Taiwan, were part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. They were not part of Taiwan during the Ming Dynasty.

This fact can also be confirmed in the Daqing Yitongzhi (The Great Qing Journal of Unification) compiled during the Qing Dynasty. The Daqing Yitongzhi states that Taiwan was a distant frontier territory, and refers to it as the land of the Eastern Barbarians (dongfan, often a general term for ethnic minorities) that wasn’t a part of China. It also states that people from Japan had congregated there during the early part of the Ming Dynasty, that Zheng Zhilong (Chinese merchant, pirate, and admiral) had outposts there, and that the Dutch also came. The edition published during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong states simply that Taiwan was part of Japan.

Taiwan was incorporated into the Qing Dynasty in 1684. Taiwan Province, located in Taiwan, had Mt. Jilong as the northern border of its administrative district. That’s why Zhai Kun twice stated the mountain was the border of China when he passed Taiwan on his way to the Ryukyus to fulfill his duties as emissary.

The territory of Taiwan province is shown in a map contained in the Taiwan Fuzhi. Using that as the basis, the Qing Dynasty compiled the official Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng, an atlas, in 1728. The map of Taiwan province in that collection does not show the Senkakus at all. It shows Mt. Jilong as the northern border of the territory. That’s because the mountain was designated as the northern border of Taiwan province before Zhai Kun traveled to the Ryukyu Kingdom as emissary.

The Daiqing Yitongzhi published in 1744 also shows the mountain as the northern border, and it too does not show the Senkakus. This geographical awareness is continued in the Haiguo Wenjianlu (Records of That Seen and Heard of Overseas Countries) published in 1793. The Senkakus were not part of Taiwan.

All of this demonstrates that the Senkakus were terra nullius when the Japanese government incorporated the islets as Japanese territory in 1895. The geographical recognition of Mt. Jilong and the Jilong Castle as the northern border of Taiwan was continued into the era of the Republic of China following the pattern of the Daqing Yitongzhi in the Huangzhao Xuwenxian Tongkao (A Review of Dynasty Documents), compiled in 1912, and the Qingshigao (Draft of the Qing Dynasty History) of 1927. From the Ming Dynasty through the Qing Dynasty to the days of the Republic of China on the mainland, the Senkaku Islets were not part of Taiwan’s territory.

China thus is claiming the Senkaku islets are their territory and that Japan used the war with China as an excuse to steal them, based on the information contained in the Inoue book. Mr. Inoue’s manipulation of the historical documents was careless, however. It is not possible to use his book as the basis for the Chinese claim.

One of the first to refute Mr. Inoue’s research was Okuhara Toshio, then an associate professor at Kokushikan University. Mr. Okuhara’s specialty is international law, but he employed both international law and historical materials, including the Taiwan Fuzhi and the Jilong Fuzhi (History of Keelung) as a basis to show that the Senkakus were not part of Taiwan.

Historical research has not proceeded beyond Mr. Okuhara’s work, however. Therefore, the dispute between Japan, who claim the islets based on international law, and China, which claim the islets based on their historical interpretation that they were Chinese since the Ming dynasty, has not been fully engaged. It has not been possible to overturn the Chinese claims that take Mr. Inoue’s book as gospel.

When one carefully reads the Chinese documents, it is clear that Mr. Inoue’s research was arbitrary. As Zhai Kun wrote that Mt. Jilong was the border of China in Dongying Baiyong, and that Gumishan (Kumejima) was the border of the Ryukyus, the Senkakus were terra nullius before Japan incorporated them. China has no historical title for which to base their territorial claim in the islets.

The issue today

Consequently, when China claims the Senkakus as their core interest and says they were Chinese territory from the days of the Ming Dynasty, it is rooted in a territorial ambition based on the idea of imperialism. It is similar to the South Korean claim in regard to the debate over the Takeshima islets, which they illegally occupy. They insist that Japan unlawfully took possession of the islets from them.

Indeed, the 26 September issue of the Hong Kong-based Asiaweek, immediately after the incident with the Chinese fishing boat captain, held that a lesson should be learned from the Korean seizure of Takeshima, and that it was worth examining the possibility of occupying the Senkakus. The idea that Japan’s territorial issue should be utilized for their own territorial issues has already occurred to some people. Writing in the online edition of Qingnian Cankao, a semi-weekly journal affiliated with Zhongguo Qingnian Bao, the daily newspaper of the CPC Communist Youth League, Kanto Gakuin University Prof. Yin Yanjun said, “China and Russia should cooperate in their territorial issues and apply strong pressure to Japan.” Yu Zhirong, a researcher at the Chinese Maritime Development Research Center, said in the 21 February edition of Duowei News, “If it’s necessary, South Korea, Russia, and other countries with territorial issues with Japan should work together.”

This is the climate in which Russian President Putin brought up the resolution of the issue of the four islands it holds off of Hokkaido, known as the Northern Territories. Understanding that Japan was incapable of moving on the territorial issues with China and South Korea, he sees this as a golden opportunity. Territorial issues are difficult to settle if the country that has seized the territory refuses to budge, but the countries involved have begun to take action on their own. Japan must first clearly see and understand the traditional Chinese approach to foreign affairs and make a strategic response. That’s because now is the time to resolve these issues.

– Shimojo Masao, Takushoku University


* Clicking on the maps will enlarge them.

* Here’s something else Yu Zhirong said about this issue, just last month:

“Safeguarding rights is a political issue. We need to use the law, learn it, apply it, know it, but also go beyond the law.”

I’m sure everyone knows the words used to describe people who “go beyond the law”.

* So, China, Russia, and South Korea are thinking of ganging up on Japan to cut themselves each a slice. There is no better way to accelerate the move to amend the peace clause of the Japanese Constitution, and indeed, to have Japan consider taking up nuclear weapons. Estupido. But they’ll find a way to blame it on Japan.

One wonders if they would make so bold if a different president were in the White House.

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Shimojo Masao (15): The school for Japanese in New Jersey

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LEADERLESS Japan has been devoting its energy to domestic issues since the Tohoku earthquake and has been neglecting foreign affairs. An incident occurred in the state of New Jersey at the end of September that we cannot afford to ignore. I would like to examine a few issues that bear on the future course of events in East Asia.

The 24 September online edition of the Hankook Ilbo in the United States reported that a South Korean in that country brought an administrative suit against a school for Japanese in the state of New Jersey (with 90 students), the New Jersey Department of Education, and the Oakland Board of Education. The suit charged that the school for Japanese was using a civics textbook that, in regard to the Takeshima islets (Liancourt Rocks), which are a subject of dispute between Japan and South Korea, contains the passage, “Takeshima is being illegally occupied by South Korea.” This was a problem because “an American educational institution was educating its students with a Japanese textbook that distorted the facts.” The plaintiff said that unless the matter was resolved by eliminating the offending passage and the Board of Education rescinded its approval of the school’s curriculum, it would bring a civil suit.

But Takeshima, in the Sea of Japan, is Japanese territory both historically and under international law. There is no truth to the assertion in the lawsuit that the textbook’s statement is distorted. The plaintiff objects to the phrase, “South Korea claims it that governs Takeshima, and has control of it, but under international law and historical fact, it is Japanese territory.” This description is in accordance with the facts of history. Why was historical fact ignored to bring suit against a small school for Japanese in New Jersey? In South Korea, students are taught that Takeshima is Korean territory, an outlook that differs from the textbook’s statement that Takeshima is illegally occupied by South Korea.

But Takeshima was incorporated as Japanese territory in 1905 based on international law and the concept of terra nullius. It was controlled by Japan for nearly a half century thereafter. It became the center of a land dispute in January 1952, when the South Korean government proclaimed the existence of the Syngman Rhee Line in international waters, with Takeshima on the Korean side of the line. When the South Korean government occupied Takeshima by force in September 1954, the Japanese government immediately proposed to the South Korean government that the matter be referred to the International Court of Justice. The South Korean government refused, however, and the matter remains unresolved to this day. That this abnormal state of affairs continues is due to the fact that Japan presents absolutely no threat to the South Korean government.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits the resolution of international disputes through war or the force of arms. The South Korean government knows that Japan cannot regain control of Takeshima through military action. Japan is therefore precluded from either the use of force or recourse to the International Court of Justice. Explaining the historical background of the illegal South Korean occupation is its only option.

If the administrative lawsuit is successful in prohibiting the use of a textbook that explains Takeshima is illegally occupied by South Korea, it would thwart Japan’s chances of seeking the return of the islets. A court in Superpower America would have delivered that verdict. Their idea of using a great power to achieve one’s objectives, based on the worship of the powerful, is not limited to this administrative lawsuit. South Korea has already been partially successful with it before.

When Japan claims sovereignty over Takeshima, the South Koreans impute that to Japanese territorial ambitions, and then turn the tables by criticizing Japan as an aggressor nation. They validate that latter assertion by bringing up the name of the Sea of Japan, saying it should be the East Sea instead, or the issue of comfort women (prostitutes) during the Second World War. Using the UN and the international community as a stage, they have plotted to isolate Japan as an aggressor nation.

The South Koreans explain that what is now called the Sea of Japan is known as the East Sea in South Korea, and that name has been used since before the birth of Christ. Later, the explanation goes, the Sea of Japan name spread due to Japanese expansionism and colonial domination. A South Korean group in the U.S. claims that “The Japanese insistence on the (name of the) Sea of Japan is the means for imperialism, which includes the ambition for sovereignty over Dokdo (the South Korean name for Takeshima).” They have begun a campaign to change the name to the East Sea, which they insist is correct. The group has disseminated South Korean public opinion abroad by collecting signatures for a petition and submitting them to the American Congress and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

There is no historical basis that the Sea of Japan was ever the East Sea, however. In fact, some people in South Korea think the name should be the Sea of Hanguk (韓国海) and not the East Sea. Respect for historical fact should the determining factor for the name of the body of water. Facts should not be determined by petition drives. The method of using a petition drive to stop the use of the name of the Sea of Japan in favor of the East Sea is similar to the idea of employing an administrative suit to prohibit the use of a textbook that says Takeshima is illegally occupied by South Korea.

The issue of the prostitutes referred to as comfort women also originates in the South Korean historical view of Japan as an aggressor state. The existence of women whose vocation is prostitution for military forces during wartime, however, is an issue that humankind has not been able to overcome. There have been comfort women in South Korea for the American forces since the start of the Korean War. The existence of comfort women for the South Korean army during the Vietnam War is also not irrelevant in this regard.

South Korea created the history that the comfort women were forcibly impressed and controlled by the Japanese government, and has used that to repeatedly criticize Japan. But women from the Korean Peninsula were not the only ones that became comfort women — many of them were Japanese. Poverty drove women to sell their bodies.

Today, the Northeast Asia History Foundation, which the South Korean government established as an instrument of national policy to deal with the Takeshima issue, is the driving force behind the comfort woman issue. It has a division that works to link the comfort women, the name of the Sea of Japan, and Japanese history textbooks with the Takeshima issue to use them for political propaganda. It works with the South Korean organization in the United States and a group of juveniles acting as cyber-terrorists to promote anti-Japanese propaganda in the United States and the rest of the world in regard to these three issues.

It is a fact, however, that the territorial issue of Takeshima is entirely unrelated to the issue of the comfort women and the name of the Sea of Japan. South Korea occupied Takeshima using military force in 1954, but the other two issues predate that. The South Korean government has shouted to the international community about comfort women and the Sea of Japan, and plotted to seal off the Takeshima issue by declaring Japan to be an aggressor nation. At the 2007 UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names — whose work is overseen by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and who has also played a central role in the Takeshima dispute — the South Korean representative called for the joint use of the historically groundless East Sea name. South Korean efforts have also resulted in the U.S. House of Representatives and the national legislatures of Canada and The Netherlands passing motions condemning Japan over the comfort women issue.

That these efforts now extend to an administrative lawsuit prohibiting the use of a textbook in a small school for Japanese in New Jersey is likely the result of their past successes. But the claim that the textbook used by the students “is in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and betrays the universal expectations of humankind for education” in a lawsuit that uses superficially democratic procedures is merely an attempt to justify the aggressive act of South Korea. This cannot be overlooked.

My role is to disclose the circumstances surrounding this issue for the school for Japanese in New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Education, which have been dragged into this false accusation. I trust that the court will clarify the facts of history based on law and justice.

– Shimojo Masao

Ampontan P.S.:

1. Japanese sources say that at least 40% of the WWII comfort women were Japanese, and I’ve never seen an attempt to rebut that.

2. It is worth noting in regard to the South Korean claim for the East Sea name that the body of water lying to the west of the Korean Peninsula is known in Korea (and even by an English-language blogger there who should know better) as the West Sea. The rest of the world knows it as the Yellow Sea. There seems to be no South Korean effort to have international bodies recognize that particular name, from which we can draw our own conclusions.

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Posted in History, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The drama queendom

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, August 4, 2011

Generally speaking, a response of this sort to the Diet members who legally entered the country is unacceptable…It is regrettable in view of the friendly relations between Japan and South Korea….The visit to South Korea was made with the intention of following the legal procedures for the purposes of observation. We state that this (refusal) is regrettable, and ask that South Korea reconsider and allow entry.

– Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio

THE Southern Dynasty of the Joseon Drama Queendom continued its long-running series of geo-historical farces this week by refusing to honor the tickets of three Japanese Diet members and a university professor and preventing them from entering the theater. Their cue was the group’s planned visit to Ulleung, the largest island of a South Korean administrative district that contains 44 islands with an aggregate population of roughly 10,000. The less than bravura performance of the Queendom’s thespians demonstrated once again their belief that all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women of the Japan of their imagination merely bit players.

Most reviews by Japanese critics say only that the four were on an observation tour, but what they intended to observe was a museum on Ulleung devoted to the Queendom’s illegal occupation and use as a stage property of the Japanese island of Takeshima, which the repertory company refers to as Dokdo. (Those who think it isn’t illegal should read the text of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, using their fingers to follow the text and sound out the words if necessary.)

The professor in question is Shimojo Masao of Takushoku University, who lived in South Korea for 16 years and maintains a second residence in Seoul with his Korean wife. His role was to serve as a guide and translator for the content of the Korean-language exhibits and provide a historical context. The measure taken by the Queendom’s rulers suggests they were aghast at the idea of allowing outsiders a backstage glimpse of the blocking and choreography. There’s a reason they used to call it the Hermit Kingdom, but the peninsula isn’t the only place where time and trends have perverted the standards of gender identification.

Prof. Shimojo is an occasional contributor to this site, and his observations on the incident that appeared this week in the Sankei Shimbun read very much like the texts he’s offered for our use. The following is an English translation of those observations.

My visit to South Korea on this occasion was to make an observation tour of Ulleung with Diet members from the Liberal Democratic Party, visit some acquaintances, and conduct other research. Despite this, we were branded “The advance guard of Japan’s right wing Diet members”, and thrown out of the country.

I’ve been to Ulleung three times. At the Dokdo (Takeshima) Museum on the island, not one document is on display to demonstrate that Takeshima is South Korean territory. Aren’t the real feelings of South Korea, “We would be put in a bind by being observed”?

The Japanese and South Korean mass media have given extensive coverage to the uproar in South Korea, including such protest activities as burning the photographs of Shindo Yoshitaka and the other MPs. This situation requires a calm analysis, however, keeping in mind the (South Korean) presidential election in December next year. One aspect we must not overlook is that President Lee Myung-bak and his allies are using the Takeshima issue to boost their own popularity, and this performance to criticize the group with a moderate position toward Japan.

Shimojo Masao

The activities of Mr. Shindo and the other MPs were based on the extremely natural idea of going to the site themselves to obtain some hints for resolving the situation. They were not able to achieve their objective, but their restrained behavior and refusal to yield to pressure meant that all the decisions about diplomatic ties were made by South Korea. The conflict of opinions within South Korea was exposed as a result.

The internal split within South Korea now resembles the latter stages of the Joseon Dynasty about 100 years ago. In those days, there was a fierce conflict between the Dongnipdang, the forces favoring Korean independence, and the Sadaedang, which favored maintaining the government then in power by subordinating themselves to the Qing China suzerainty. This incident might well be significant for the national interest of Japan through a reevaluation of future Japanese-South Korean relations.

In any event, the refusal to allow entry to the country and expelling those with different opinions — rejecting even the idea of academic research — can be said to have clarified once again the essence of South Korean diplomacy. We should perhaps view this incident as demonstrating the true nature of South Korea.

(end translation)

As with the other units of the world’s industrial mass media, the Yonhap news agency views the presentation of its narrative as one of its prime directives. Here’s an excerpt from one of their reports:

Shimojo Masao, a Takushoku University professor with very rightist views on territorial issues, arrived at the Incheon International Airport on an Asiana Airlines flight at about 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, according to the police.

But the nationalistic professor was immediately denied entry to the country by immigration officials due to the local justice ministry’s disapproval of his visit, they said.

The professor did not clash with officials and boarded a flight back to Japan after an four-hour stay in a waiting room at the Incheon airport, the police said.

Whether Shimojo will try entry to South Korea again is still unknown, but immigration officials said he was not on the list of those seeking to enter the country.

For Yonhap to speculate on whether he will “try entry again” is silly. Both he and his wife are often in the country, usually staying at a condominium they own in Seoul. Whenever I’ve met the man, he seems to be carrying more Korean-language documents than Japanese texts. (His interests include Japanese, Korean, and Chinese history, but both he and his wife also teach the Korean language at Takushoku.) Of course he’s going to “try entry again”.

It is also worth noting Yonhap’s description of him as “right-wing on territorial issues”. The term “right-wing” has become so degraded everywhere that it long ago lost any functional validity it might once have had. To see why, here’s a brief statement from Ichida Tadayoshi, another Japanese Diet member, which appeared in the media this week:

We have expressed the views of our party in regard to the Takeshima issue to the South Korean government and all the political parties whenever there has been an opportunity to do so. We believe the territorial issues (between the two countries) should be resolved by boldly holding bilateral discussions based on historical fact and international reason. Our party’s position is that Takeshima is Japanese territory, but (because its incorporation) overlapped the period of Japan-Korean unification, (this issue) should be resolved through discussion and joint research conducted with South Korea.

Had any of the Yonhap drones read Prof. Shimojo’s book, Nikkan: Rekishi Kokufuku e no Michi (Japan and Korea: The path toward overcoming history), they would have known that the position expressed by Mr. Ichida is identical to that of Prof. Shimojo. Ichida Tadayoshi, however, is a member of the Communist Party of Japan, and his statement was run in their daily newspaper, Akahata (Red Flag).

Japan’s Communists: The world’s first right-wing Reds!

Reader Aceface forwarded a copy of an old Japanese-language Kyodo report explaining that the ushers have slammed the theater doors in a Japanese patron’s face before. The venue operators refused in July 1997 to punch the ticket of Usuki Keiko, the head of the Committee to Clarify Japan’s Postwar Responsibility — someone who was on their side.

Ms. Usuki was involved with the Asia Women’s Fund, which was established with private funds and the assistance of the Japanese government. Her planned visit was to attend a meeting with South Korean women who claimed to have been comfort women and wanted to receive money from the fund. Here’s a reprise of what I wrote about the issue in 2007:

The funds come from private donations, because the Japanese government claims it has already paid war reparations. In fact, the Japanese government reached an agreement with South Korea about reparations in 1965. Seoul wanted $US 364 million as compensation for the conscripted laborers and comfort women during the period of the Japanese colonization. The agreement instead gave South Korea $800 million in grants and low-interest loans. President Park agreed as part of the deal that South Koreans would relinquish the right to make individual claims against the Japanese government. Park paid out only about $251 million to families killed by the Japanese and some more to owners of destroyed property, however. None of the South Koreans conscripted into the Japanese military or workforce, or the comfort women, received anything. Park spent the rest of the money on the Korean infrastructure. The South Korean public only found out about this deal and Park’s use of the money in January 2005.

Local Queendom activists screeched at the thought that the Japanese initiative would be a success and negate their efforts to keep hope alive. The Asian Women’s Fund gave money to seven South Korean women (as well as women from other countries) and a signed apology from the prime minister of Japan. More Korean women decided to accept the money and the apology, but the activists rattled the government’s cages so loudly they declared Ms. Usuki persona non grata.

Allowing the money to be accepted would have been a de facto admission of the reality that the matter of postwar reparations between the two countries was officially closed. That would be an announcement of the end of the season for a drama it is in the domestic political and diplomatic interest, and the interest of the Queendom’s emotional architecture, to prolong.

Rated NC-17

The excuse they found was Article 11.1.3 of South Korea’s immigration law. The government cited concerns of “safety” and the potential harmful effect on bilateral relations — specifically, “the negative effect on good relations between Japan and South Korea”.

One wonders if they really expected (or cared whether) it would prevent a harmful effect on bilateral relations; they’re not so stupid that they failed to realize their decision would be the downer for bilateral relations, as the statement of a Japanese official quoted at the top of the page shows. One of the three Japanese MPs barred from entry is an opposition member of the upper house, and he received the authorization of that body to make the visit. The president of the upper house, meanwhile, is affiliated with the ruling DPJ.

The excuse about safety irritated at least one of the Japanese MPs, who wondered if the South Korean government was treating them like terrorists. He also noted that the immigration authorities never asked them the reason for their visit.

Perhaps he misunderstood. The South Korean government claims it was worried about their safety, not the safety of the national drama troupe. The authorities may have a point, though it is telling this excuse is a tacit admission they are unable to guarantee the safety of foreign government officials on a trip to an outlying island with no more than 10,000 people. The groundlings at Globe Theater East can become so emotionally engrossed in the dramatic spectacle, they chop off their fingers, shoot flaming arrows (onto the grounds of the Japanese embassy), and disembowel birds at the drop of a hanbok.

Japanese television broadcast a demonstration in Seoul in which one the signs carried by the participants contained the Chinese characters for “rabid dogs”. (The rest of the wording was in Korean.) For those who are interested in straightforward examples of what the psychologists term “projection”, there you are.

For your consideration: The following is a photo of a group of South Korean bravados on the Japanese island of Tsushima taken three years ago. They marched to Tsushima City Hall and staged some guerilla theater based on the plot that the island has always been Korean territory. They might have been followers of the Method Acting school — they wrote that claim in blood on the flag they’re holding. (Their own, not the blood of the birds.)

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you, trippingly on the tongue...

Now take another look at the photo of Prof. Shimojo and ask yourself who the rabid dogs might be.


There are reports the Queendom’s subjects are convinced the visit was a ruse by the Japanese politicians to divert attention from their own government’s mishandling of the nuclear accident at Fukushima.

If those reports are true, it’s difficult to decide whether to pity the fools, or to laugh at the frogs at the bottom of the well who think they’re worldly wise. (But why bother to decide when both are so easy and so much fun to do?)

Are these people capable of breathing without trying to elbow their way into being the center of attention? The (political) mishandling is the responsibility of the ruling Democratic Party. The three MPs who got as far as Incheon Airport are from the opposition Liberal Democrats. The DPJ can’t even coordinate its own affairs, much less recruit three people from the opposition to serve as cat’s paws. There are more than 700 national legislators in Japan, and the three involved are unknown to the nation outside their districts. Indeed, the source of Prof. Shimojo’s frustration with the Japanese political class is that so few of them care what happens overseas anywhere, much less the Korean Peninsula.

Had they chosen to wave the three legislators through customs into the country, whatever happened during their visit would never have become a story in Japan. But neither would it have become much of a story in South Korea. That’s not a good strategy for box office success, now is it?

The story within the story

Prof. Shimojo suggests in the foregoing that the incident has clarified the essence of South Korean diplomacy. I would agree, though perhaps not in the way he intended. There are some people whose emotional identity is welded to the idea that the Japanese have never expressed enough emotional and pecuniary remorse for the behavior of their great-grandparents, and honest efforts to do so would thaw the most frigid of Joseon hearts.

This is such gloop it’s a wonder people are able to deliver it with a straight face, much less have to sit through a hearing or a reading of it without heaving a tomato at the stage.

In early June, the Japanese government decided to unconditionally “hand over” to South Korea their copies of the Uigwe, records of the royal protocols of the Joseon dynasty. The Japanese governor-general of Korea had taken them to Tokyo in 1922, and few people knew of their existence or whereabouts until 2001. That was a most generous gesture on the Japanese government’s part for three reasons: First, there was no obligation to return that portion of the documents purchased in private transactions by individual Japanese from individual Koreans. Second, the French also have some of the same records, but refuse to return them outright. They’ve retained possession and “loaned” them to the Korean government for five years instead. Third, the South Korean government has similar Japanese historical documents in its possession, but claps its hands over its ears to block out requests that it reciprocate by returning those to Tokyo.

South Korean diplomacy is now so clear that those with the eyes to see should realize that any sincere gesture of Japanese atonement will cut no ice off that Joseon heart. When the subject is Japan and the Japanese, they’re not happy unless they’re not happy.

To be sure, some of those folks who believe any gesture would have an effect are of the transnational type that gets its kicks by hari no mushiro ni suwaru, as the Japanese say, or sitting on a bed of thorns. These Little Jack Horners find it a delightful and bracing exercise to proclaim how terrible they are as a transparent backdoor way to proclaim how wonderful they are. It is a touch of dramatic irony that the only people they fool are themselves.

The rest seem to be dullards who actually believe what they say. No amount of contrary evidence or explanation will ever penetrate the concrete bunkers of their skulls. One might as well try telling a fish that it is swimming in water.

A critical element of a successful drama is tricking the audience into suspending its disbelief. Now that the impresarios of the Drama Queendom have allowed the overseas audience a view behind the curtains and the faces of the players under the masks, the effect is forever ruined.

That will be of no concern to the Queendom’s subjects, however. In that land, you’re either one of the cast or one of the stagehands, and everyone’s part of the audience.

Further reading

One website run by a native English speaker in Seoul uses an 1898 quote from Isabella Bird Bishop for its name and masthead statement: “Gusts Of Popular Feeling, which pass for public opinion in a land where no such thing exists, can be found only in Seoul.” For more on that phenomenon, try this.

Instead of historical melodrama, the Queendom sometimes offers slapstick comedy on its playbill as a change of pace.

To be fair, some of the Queendom’s subjects know how the bologna is ground and do not find it appetizing.


The dramaturges of the Northern Dynasty of the Joseon Drama Queendom prefer to stage productions of a different sort — they have a taste for a more martial form of Sturm und Drang — but the similarities in thematic approach and content will be obvious to even casual theater-goers.

And while we’re on the subject of queens:

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Posted in History, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Shimojo Masao (14): The Senkakus Weren’t Taiwanese Territory Either

Posted by ampontan on Monday, February 7, 2011

THE HEADLINE on the article in the 23 December Sankei Shimbun leapt from the page: “The Senkakus (are) Chinese Territory: Old document sold for JPY 166 Million”. The article reported that it was proclaimed the old document contained conclusive proof identifying the Senkaku Islets (Chinese name: Diaoyutai) as Chinese territory. The document was put up for auction in Beijing, and the winning bid was CNY 13.25 million (about JPY 166 million). The auction attracted attention because the sponsors announced in advance that foreigners would be prohibited from bidding to prevent “the destruction of this conclusive evidence”.

The old document in question was identified as the Zhongshan Jili, Volume #5 of the Fusheng Liuji by Shen Fu, which was thought to be lost. This previously unknown document was said to have been recorded in the Jishizhu, which was abstracted by the Qing Dynasty scholar Qian Yong.

To start with the conclusion, not only does this JPY 166 million document fail to offer conclusive proof that the Senkakus are Chinese territory, the idea that a Japanese would purchase it “to destroy the conclusive proof” is a groundless concern.

Until now, the Chinese have used the records of Chinese emissaries sent to the Ryukyu Kingdom (today’s Okinawa Prefecture) since the Ming Dynasty era to assert that the Senkakus were historically Chinese territory. These records include the directions for a sea route. The name of the island of Uotsuri (Chinese name: Diaoyutai) was variously recorded as Chenkan in the Shiliuqiulu (1534), Guorulin in the Chongbian Shiliuqiulu (1562), Wangji in the Shiliuqiu Zalu (1683), Xubaoguang in the Zhongshan Yunxinlu (1719), Zhouhuang in the Liuqiu Guozhilue (1756), Lidingyuan in the Shiliuqiulu (1800), and Zhaikun in the Xuliuqiu Guozhilue (1808).

Then, in the fall of 2005, a copy of the Jishizhu was discovered in a Nanjing antiques market. Inside was an excerpt about the dispatch of an emissary to the Ryukyus in 1808 titled Celiuqiu Guojilue, that read, “Sighted Diaoyutai on the morning of the 13th.” Chinese and Taiwanese scholars regard the Celiuqiu Guojilue as part of the lost fifth volume (Zhongshan Jili) of the Fusheng Liuji. They claim it is proof the Diaoyutai islets were discovered 76 years before the discovery by the Japanese Koga Tatsushiro.

It is impossible to claim that the records of the Celiuqiu Guojilue immediately prove that Diaoyutai was Chinese, however. To be sure, the text does say there was the intent to establish a vassalage with the Ryukyu king in 1808, and that Zhai Kun was named the principal emissary and Fei Xi-zhang the secondary emissary. Both men did travel to the Ryukyus in 1808. The name Diaoyutai is recorded in the Liuqiu Guozhilue, which both men edited, as being on the route from Fuzhou to the Ryukyus.

To use the appearance of the name Diaoyutai on the sea route as the basis for making the claim that it is conclusive evidence proving the Senkakus are Chinese territory, however, is not possible. Zhai Kun himself did not recognize Diaoyutai as Chinese territory. In his poetry anthology Dongying Baiyong, he includes a poem recounting the trip from the port at Taiping to the port at Naha. The poem states that Mt. Jilong in Taiwan was the limit of Chinese territory at that time.

Zhai Kun set sail from Fuzhou in May 1808 and reached Naha on the night of the 17th, passing Wuhumen, Jilongshan, Diaoyutai, Chiweiyu, Heigouyang, Gumishan, and Machishan on the way. Recounting the trip, he writes that Mt. Jilong is located between Wuhumen and Diaoyutai, and that the mountain marks the outer border of China. He demonstrates the same geographical awareness in another of his poems when he writes that he “passed Mt. Jilong, the outer limit of China”. This enables us to confirm that Zhai Kun was aware that Mt. Jilong delineated the farthest boundary of Qing Dynasty China.

Why did Zhai Kun state that Mt. Jilong, in what was then Taiwan Prefecture, was the edge of China? Because the Qing Dynasty had established Taiwan Prefecture as a Chinese possession in 1684 and designated Mt. Jilong as the northernmost limit to their area of jurisdiction. The Taiwan Fuzhi, compiled every year during the reign of Emperor Kanxi by Jiang Yu-ying, states that the prefecture extends 2,315 li north to Mt. Jilong, That is echoed in the 1696 edition, when the same distance to the mountain is cited and the mountain is called the boundary.

In any event, the Jilong Castle near the present city of Keelung and Mt. Jilong are located that distance from Taiwan Prefecture, and were the outer limits of that prefecture. That’s the reason Zhai Kun writes in Dongying Baiyong that the mountain was the boundary of China, and that when he passed the mountain he passed outside of China. The Senkaku Islets, about 200 kilometers east-northeast of the northern edge of Taiwan at Keelung, were not included in the Qing Dynasty administrative district for which Mt. Jilong marked the border.

This fact can be confirmed in the Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng, a collection of maps published in 1728. Before Zhai Kun was sent as an emissary to the Ryukyus in 1808, the maps in that collection showed Mt. Jilong as the northern boundary of Taiwan Prefecture based on the text of the Taiwan Fuzhi. The Daiqing Yitongzhi published in 1744 shows the same thing. This geographical awareness is continued through the era of the Republic of China in the Huangzhao Xuwenxian Tongkao, compiled in 1912, and the Qingshigao of 1927. From the Ming Dynasty, through the Qing Dynasty, to the days of the Republic of China on the mainland, the Senkaku Islets were not part of Taiwan’s territory.

The definitive proof is that on maps showing the sea route when the emissaries were sent to the Ryukyus, the islands of Huapingdao and Pengjiadao were incorporated as part of Taiwan. In the Jilong Shizhi, a report from the city of Jilung in 1951, it is stated that a 1905 reorganization placed Mt. Jilong, Mt. Pengjia, Mt. Mianhua, and Mt. Huaping within the territory of the city of Jilung. The Senkaku Islets are nearly 150 kilometers to the east-northeast of Mt. Huaping, Mt. Pengjia, and Mt. Mianhua. It is self-evident that when the Qing Dynasty took possession of Taiwan in 1684, the governing authority of Taiwan Prefecture extended only to Mt. Jilung.

The Chinese claim that the Senkakus were their territory is vague, lacks a historical basis, and is nothing more than a mistaken impression. The old document that has been declared to present conclusive evidence that the Senkakus are Chinese territory demonstrates, when examined, that the Senkakus were not Chinese territory at all. There are reports an enormous sum was paid for the document to prevent the Japanese from destroying this “conclusive evidence”, but we don’t want to destroy the evidence showing the Senkakus were not Chinese territory.

In recent years China has become emotional about the Senkakus issue, and it has built up its military capabilities, intimidating other countries. That is the height of folly, because neither China nor Taiwan has any historical basis enabling it to claim the islets. Ignoring those historical facts, Japan’s Democratic Party government assigned about 100 members of a coastal surveillance team to Yonaguni Island near the Senkakus on 21 November to use radar for detecting Chinese ships and aircraft, while deliberations were ongoing regarding the National Defense Program Guidelines. To counter this move, the Chinese immediately dispatched two fishing patrol vessels to the area near the Senkakus, sailing for many hours near Japanese territorial waters.

An extreme overreaction of this type is not a wise choice. It is not too late for the Chinese to reexamine their awareness of history and discover the errors before both Japan and China become emotional. As with South Korea, which continues to illegally occupy Takeshima with no historical basis, China does not offer a historical ground for their assertion that the Senkakus belong to them.

Since the Democratic Party took power in Japan, the country’s diplomacy has been thrown into confusion, amplifying the instability of East Asia as a whole. While the lack of ability of the people in leadership positions in the DPJ administration is one factor, the LDP too, which had reigned as the ruling party until then, had a negative approach to resolving territorial issues.

What the people seek from politicians is the assurance of national sovereignty and stability in their daily lives. Part of the territory of postwar Japan has been invaded by neighboring countries, and this situation remains unresolved after more than half a century. Such a situation is tantamount to slavery. While we live contentedly in conditions of slavery, the political dramas of past and present only for the dogged pursuit of the seat of power have been a disgrace. If neither the DPJ nor the LDP has the wisdom to recover our national sovereignty after repeated invasions, they should promptly quit the political stage.

– Shimojo Masao

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Shimojo Masao (13): On the Senkaku islets

Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 3, 2010

PROF. SHIMOJO MASAO has been occupied with other matters lately and has been unable to write for the site, but yesterday he sent this article on the Senkaku Islets.

TENSIONS have recently erupted between Japan, China, and Taiwan over the territorial rights to the Senkaku islets. The eight islets, which include Uotsuri and Kuba, lie about 175 kilometers northwest of the Yaeyama archipelago in Okinawa and about 195 kilometers northeast of Taiwan, and are under the jurisdiction of Tonoshiro, Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture. They have been Japanese territory for more than a century, since 14 January 1895.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China claimed the Senkakus on 11 June 1971, while the People’s Republic of China claimed them on 30 December the same year. The reason both Taiwan and the PRC claimed the islets is the content of the report issued by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) of a survey of the East China Sea seabed in 1969. The report stated it was possible there were deposits of oil resources on the continental shelf of that sea.

The territorial claim of the Chinese government is a special case in that they view the Senkakus as ancillary islands to the province of Taiwan, which they consider to be part of China. The grounds for the Chinese territorial claim is that when the Ryukyu Kingdom (now Okinawa Prefecture) became a vassal state of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Senkakus were used as a landmark on the sea route when the Chinese emissary visited. Therefore, insist the Chinese, they were aware of the islands first. Another basis for their claim that the islets are Chinese territory is that Qing Dynasty emissary Xu Baoguang did not include the Senkakus in the 36 islands of the Ryukyu chain in his Annals of Zhong Shan.

The Japanese incorporation of the Senkaku islets as terra nullius in 1895 was proper under international law. The problem, however, is the wide divergence in historical understanding between the two sides. While Japan asserts that the Senkakus are Japanese under international law, the Chinese say they were historically Chinese territory and that their incorporation into Japan was an imperialist occupation. Chinese fishing boats have nonchalantly continued to carry out fishing operations in Japanese territorial waters near the Senkakus, and this fait accompli informs the Chinese historical awareness that the islets are Chinese territory.

That is the reason China tried to justify the collision when the Chinese fishing vessel rammed the Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats on September 7, and the captain was arrested on suspicion of obstructing public officials in the line of duty. Even when the Japanese took a firm stand and repeatedly insisted that the Senkaku islets were Japanese territory, the Chinese did not agree. Japan’s Democratic Party government deployed a coastal surveillance team of about 100 members to Yonaguni, an island near the Senkakus, on 21 November as part of their evaluation of National Defense Program Guidelines, saying they could detect Chinese military vessels and aircraft in the area with radar. The Chinese countermeasure was the immediate dispatch of two fishery patrol vessels to the area near the Senkakus that passed through the adjoining Japanese waters.

A response of this type, however, is not a wise choice. It is not too late for the Chinese to reexamine their historical awareness before both countries become emotional. In the same way that South Korea continues to illegally occupy Takeshima with no historical justification whatsoever, the Chinese have demonstrated no historical basis for their claim that the Senkakus are Chinese territory.

Of course the Chinese passed near the Senkakus every time their sent their emissary to the Ryukyu Kingdom when the latter was their vassal state. It is true that one part of the Senkaku islets were shown in a map in Zhou Huang’s Treatise on the Ryukyus, and they are not included as one of the 36 Ryukyus as described in Xu Baoguang’s Annals of Zhong Shan. That alone is not grounds for claiming that the Senkaku islets are Chinese territory, however. That’s because Ming Era Taiwan, known as Dongfan, was inhabited by indigenous people and Chinese rule did not extend to the island. The Da Qing Yi Tong Zhi, a 1744 geographical survey of the Qing empire, showed that Taiwan was part of Japan during the reign of the Emperor Tianqi (1621-1628). It was also occupied by the Dutch for a time.

The Qing Dynasty annexed the island in 1684, but their rule did not extend beyond the southwestern part of the island. It did not reach the northern part of the island until 1723, when it established the Zhanghua and Danshui sub-prefectures.

The territory controlled by the provincial authority established during the Qing Dynasty did not extend over all of Taiwan. That can be confirmed by the Taiwan Fuzhi (Annals of Taiwan Prefecture), written by Gao Gongqian and others in 1696, and the maps in the Chongxiu Taiwan Fuzhi (Revised Gazetteer of Taiwan Prefecture) by Fan Xian and others in 1747. The eastern half of the island, which includes the Taiwan mountain range, is left blank, evidence that Qing Dynasty rule did not extend there.

In addition, the map of Taiwan Prefecture in the latter source shows the northern boundary of their control to be the Keelung (Jilong) Castle, while the Fengyuzhi in the Taiwan Fuzhi explains that the territory stretches 2,325 li northward to Mt. Keelung, thus defining the territorial border of Taiwan. The Senkaku islets are 195 kilometers northeast of both the fort and the mountain, so they obviously were not considered part of Taiwan. This can be confirmed with the map compiled at the order of Emperor Qianlong in the Da Qing Yi Tong Zhi. The map of Taiwan Prefecture is the same as that in the Taiwan Fuzhi and shows the Keelung Castle as the northern border of the territory. That map in turn was later used as the model for the Taiwanfu Jianyutu in the Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng (Complete Collections of Illustrations and Writings from the Earliest to the Current Times) of 1728. There was no change in the extent of the territory when the Republic of China was founded in 1912. That is shown in the Danshui Tingzhi (The Danshui Sub-Prefecture Gazetteer) compiled at the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1871, the Huangchao Xu Wenxian Tongkao (Comprehensive investigations based on literary and documentary sources) dating from the Republic of China era in 1912, and the Qingshigao (The Draft History of Qing) completed in 1927.

From these Chinese documents, it can be stated on the basis of historical fact that the Senkaku islets have never been Chinese territory, and that the Japanese government’s possession of them as terra nullius was appropriate under international law. The Chinese, however, say that the Senkakus have historically been Chinese territory, and criticize Japan’s incorporation of them as an imperialist occupation.

That is based on ignorance. One can only say theirs is a historically warped territorial ambition of the same type as South Korea’s occupation of Takeshima and Russia’s occupation of the Northern Territories and the Kurile Islands.

– Shimojo Masao

Map of Taiwan Prefecture, Da Qing Yi Tong Zhi, Vol. 335 (Takushoku University Collection)


Prof. Shimojo told me that he found the map shown here in the university library. The book in which it was found is about 100 years old, had not been examined for a long time, and the university was not aware of the map’s existence.

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Shimojo Masao (12): The propaganda of the South Korean mass media

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, August 12, 2010

THE ON-LINE EDITION of the Korea Herald, an English-language South Korean newspaper, has begun a weekly interview series on the subject of the “East Sea”. Since 1992, the South Korean government has been conducting an operation to manipulate public opinion with the intent of changing the name of the Sea of Japan to the East Sea. They are focusing their efforts on the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names and the International Hydrographic Organization.

The articles in the Korea Herald are part of this effort. They have already interviewed Lee Teh-myong; Prof. Alexander B. Murphy of the University of Oregon; Peter E. Raper, former chairman of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names; Prof. Rainer Dormels of the University of Vienna; Prof. Lee Sang-Tae of the Korea International Culture University; Prof. Han Maoli at the College of Environmental Sciences at Peking University; Paul Woodman, former member of the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names in the UK; and Peter Jordan of the University of Vienna.

The problem, however, is that the South Korean attempt to rename the Sea of Japan the East Sea has as its backdrop the dispute over the territorial rights to Takeshima, which South Korea has occupied by force since 1954. It is a fact that this issue is highly colored by political considerations. The Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan, which South Korea refer to as Dokdo, are an intrinsic part of Japanese territory. They were incorporated into Japan as terra nullius based on international law. On 18 January 1952, the South Korean government without warning proclaimed the existence of the Syngman Rhee Line in international waters. Takeshima was on the Korean side of this line. This was three months before Japan, defeated in the Second World War, was to return to the international community when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect.

In addition, the South Korean government began the practice of hostage diplomacy when it seized and held about 3,000 Japanese fishermen on 12 December 1953 using the Syngman Rhee line as a pretext and held them until 1965. This hostage diplomacy was a show of force in the negotiations to normalize Japanese-South Korean relations, which had begun in February 1952. The South Korean government had the Japanese government recognize the legal standing of an enormous number of Korean citizens in Japan who had been infiltrated into the country after the war. It used as a diplomatic card the forced relinquishment of the right to claim the Japanese assets that remained on the Korean Peninsula.

Today, the South Koreans insist on calling the body of water the East Sea. They assert it is inappropriate to use the Sea of Japan name because it would mean that occupied Takeshima is part of Japan. The real objective, however, is to seal off the Takeshima issue. The claim that Takeshima, which historically has never been part of South Korea, is their own territory is far-fetched in itself, but the attempt to place the recently established East Sea concept in ancient times and to insist that the name has been used for 2,000 years is nothing but a fraud to deceive the international community.

There is a reference to the “East Sea shore” in the Korean Samguk Sagi (History of Three Kingdoms) dating to 37 B.C., when the Goguryeo kingdom was established on the Korean Peninsula. This has been the evidence for using the East Sea name in place of the Sea of Japan. There is a reference to the East Sea in the Paldo Chongdo (Map of Eight Provinces) in the Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam (Survey of the Geography of Korea), so that has been used instead of the Sea of Japan.

The “East Sea” recorded in the Samguk Sagi, however, referred to the Bohai Sea near the Liaodong Peninsula in China. The East Sea in the Paldo Chongdo of the Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam is nothing more than the location of a temple in which the coastal waves were enshrined. The South Koreans arbitrarily interpreted the documents and have attempted to change the name of the Sea of Japan to the East Sea to justify their illegal occupation of Takeshima. This South Korean attempt to intentionally confuse the international community will simply damage the world’s trust in South Korea. The fact that Takeshima did not appear on any Korean maps or in any Korean documents until the end of the 19th century is proof not only that the South Koreans were unaware of Takeshima, but also demonstrates that their awareness of the Sea of Japan was limited to the coastal regions of the Korean Peninsula.

The South Koreans then began to claim that the Sea of Japan name became dominant due to Japanese imperialism and colonialism in the first half of the 20th century. In 1929, when Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony, the International Hydrographic Organization, which produces nautical charts as guides, published its Limits of Oceans and Seas using the Japan Sea name. This aroused the nationalism of the South Korean people, as their national pride would not allow it to stand.

There is no historical basis for the South Korean claims, however. The Sea of Japan name was used in Japan in April 1883, when a naval bureau published it in a directory of sea lanes. The Navy used the name again in 1894 in a directory of Joseon sea lanes, and used it continually in nautical charts throughout the latter half of the 18th century.

Consequently, the Sea of Japan name was already established before the first half of the 20th century, the period of Japan’s colonial rule of the peninsula and its territorial expansion. Lee Teh-myong, Prof. Rainer Dormels, Prof. Lee Sang-Tae, and Prof. Han Maoli have become collaborators in disseminating South Korean political propaganda based on spurious history. In particular, Prof. Dormels of the University of Vienna conducted his research under the guidance of the Northeast Asian History Foundation and Seoul National University. One has the sense he was used by South Korea to manipulate international opinion.

The Korea Herald has also presented Prof. Alexander B. Murphy, Peter Jordan, Peter E. Raper, and Paul Woodman as if to dress up their articles as an authoritative project, but every one of these men is a sorry victim taken in by preposterous South Korean deceptions. That’s because they believe the Sea of Japan and what South Korea claims is the historical East Sea are one and the same. The facts, however, are different.

When the term East Sea was used on the Korean Peninsula, it was used in reference to the coastal waters off the peninsula other than the Bohai Sea and the East China Sea. The waters farther off the coast were recognized as the open sea. Thus, both Paul Woodman and Peter Jordan ignored historical truth and uncritically promoted a theory in accordance with South Korean machinations.

Reading the series of columns in the Korea Herald reinforces the realization of the fruitlessness of the discussions at the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names or the International Hydrographic Organization. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a Korean, distributed a pamphlet with the Sea of Japan written as the East Sea and Takeshima as Dokto at a concert sponsored by the secretary-general on UN Day in 2007. What the international community expects of international organizations is a high level of fairness and knowledge.

In that sense, the view of Prof. Han Maoli vividly demonstrates the extent of the South Korean historical understanding of the East Sea. Prof. Han discusses an article called Ji Dong Hai Zhu Wen (祭東海祝文) in the Da Jin Ji Li (大金集禮) of the 10th century, which refers to the Jin Dynasty of Northeast China. He says that the term East Sea used in that document refers to the Sea of Japan, which in turn is evidence the Qing Dynasty, which was established in the same region as the Jin Dynasty, referred to the Sea of Japan as the East Sea.

The East Sea in the Ji Dong Hai Zhu Wen, however, refers to the East Sea enshrined in a temple (神廟) in the Laizhou area of China’s Shandong Province facing the Bohai Sea and has nothing to do with the Sea of Japan. Nevertheless, Prof. Han arbitrarily interprets one part of the Da Jin Ji Li and jumps to the conclusion that the East Sea of the Dong Hai Zhu Wen is the Sea of Japan. In fact, however, in the section known as Yue Zhen Hai Du (嶽鎮海瀆) in Vol. 34 of the Da Jin Ji Li and Vol. 34 of the Jin Shi (金史, History of the Jin Dynasty), the reference to the East Sea is to the temple in Laizhou. That institution survived into the Qing Dynasty.

In fact, the Huang Chao Tong Dian (皇朝通典) and the Huang Chao Wen Xian Tong Kao (皇朝文献通考), historical records from the 18th century, state that the East Sea is enshrined in the temple in Laizhou, Shandong. The location of the temple is clearly identified in Vol. 136 of the Da Qing Yi Tong Zhi (大清一統志, geographical records from the same century). Thus, in both the Jin and the Qing dynasties, the temple that enshrined the East Sea was located in Laizhou, Shandong, which faced the Bohai Sea. It is self-evident that this East Sea has nothing whatsoever to do with today’s Sea of Japan.

As shown in the foregoing, the efforts of the Korea Herald to manipulate world opinion by marshalling “logic” with no historical basis whatsoever to assert that the Sea of Japan should be called the East Sea, and that Takeshima should be called Dokto, have ended in failure. Every time the occasion presents itself, the South Koreans castigate the Japanese as invaders and conceal that they unlawfully seized Takeshima. Using foreign researchers ignorant of actual circumstances highlights the ugliness of their scheme.

I would hope that not only the Korea Herald, but the entire print media of South Korea, which continues to deceive their readers with false reporting, remember their responsibility as opinion leaders.

– Shimojo Masao

Afterwords (from Ampontan):

South Korea became a member of the International Hydrographic Organization in 1957, and as late as 1986 recognized the Sea of Japan as the official name for that body of water. At the 15th IHO Conference in 1997, however, they suddenly claimed that the name was a remnant of Japanese imperialism and demanded that the name be changed to the East Sea.

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Shimojo Masao (11): Ignorance and incomprehension

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, May 9, 2010

JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA are currently embroiled in a dispute over the territorial rights of the Takeshima islets (the Liancourt Rocks) in the Sea of Japan. Takeshima became subject to dispute between the two countries on 18 January 1952, about three months before the Treaty of Peace with Japan was to take effect, and the country defeated in war was to return to international society. The South Korean government proclaimed the existence of the Syngman Rhee Line in international waters, and Takeshima was on the Korean side of the line.

From the perspective of historical fact, Takeshima was Japanese territory under the jurisdiction of Shimane Prefecture. In 1905, the Liancourt Rocks, which were technically terra nullius, were given the name Takeshima. Japan continued to effectively rule the area until its defeat in World War II. The South Korean government unilaterally claimed it as Korean territory and occupied it by force in September 1954.

The Japanese government proposed to the South Korean government on 25 September 1954 that the case be taken to the International Court of Justice, but the South Korean rejection of the proposal barred the path to resolution through dialogue. That is where the matter stands today, as Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution says the people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes”. The resolution of the Takeshima issue was hopeless as long as the South Koreans would not come to the negotiating table and conduct talks.

The path to discussions opened again in 1994 when the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea came into effect. It became necessary to establish a median line and an Exclusive Economic Zone in accordance with international rules. Therefore, Shimane Prefecture passed an ordinance creating Takeshima Day in 2005, 100 years after the islets were incorporated into the prefecture, to establish its territorial rights.

This met with the fierce objections of then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyon and Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon (now UN Secretary-General). The South Korean government formulated as a state measure the Presidential Commission on True History for Peace in Northeast Asia, now known as the Northeast Asian History Foundation, and began promulgating anti-Japanese propaganda internationally.

They have used the comfort women issue and the issue of the name of the Sea of Japan (which they call the East Sea) to put a lid on Japanese moves to claim territorial rights to Takeshima by forcing a connection between Shimane Prefecture’s incorporation of Takeshima in 1905 with Japanese rule over the Korean Peninsula that began in 1910, and characterizing Japan as an invading country. As a result, the Takeshima issue has become known internationally. But this South Korean historical awareness, which is not based on historical fact, has caused confusion in the international community.

They have also taken out full-page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post claiming that Takeshima is Korean territory, as well as purchased advertising promoting their view of Takeshima on outdoor electrical signboards in New York’s Times Square. After Koreans in the United States bought advertising on billboards along Los Angeles expressways claiming that Takeshima was Korean territory, the Japanese embassy demanded that they be taken down. That resulted in an escalation of the activities of Koreans in the U.S., who thronged to the Japanese consulate to demonstrate.

It is not a fact that Takeshima was historically Korean territory, however, and the historical basis claimed by South Korea is in error. On 15 April this year, Chung Mong-joon, the president of the ruling Grand National Party of South Korea, visited Japan to gave an address. He claimed, “Takeshima has been Korean territory since the Silla period,” and added the criticism that, “The voices of the nationalist politicians in Japan are growing louder, which should be a matter of concern.”

There is no basis for Mr. Chung’s statements.

Chung Mong-joon thinks that Takeshima has been Korean territory since the Silla period because of a section in the Samguk Sagi (Chronicle of the History of Three Countries; i.e., Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla) written in the 12th century. That section claims the territory of Usan was part of the Silla kingdom. The South Korean story is that the island of Ulleung and the subsidiary islets of Takeshima were part of Usan.

That interpretation of the text is incorrect, however. The South Koreans base their assertion that the Takeshima islets were a subsidiary part of Ulleung, and that Takeshima has been Korean territory since the sixth century, on a note included in the Dongguk Munheon Bigo (Explanatory Notes for Korean Documents), which was compiled in 1770. It contains this passage: “According to the Yeojiji (Topographical Records), Ulleung (island) and Usan (island) are all part of the Usan territory. Usan is therefore what the Japanese call Matsushima (now Takeshima).”

The note to the Dongguk Munheon Bigo, however, has already been demonstrated to have been an alteration of the original text added by an editor. The original wording of the Yeojiji says that “Ulleung and Usan are the same island”. Thus it is clearly a fact that Takeshima was neither a subsidiary part of Ulleung nor of Usan.

In addition, the 512 clause in Samguk Sagi defines the borders of Usan. It says the island is about 100 li wide, with the South Korean li being about 400 meters. The ancient Chinese characters used for this expression, however, are not an accurate measurement for the size of Usan. They refer only to the island of Ulleung. The Samguk Yusa compiled in the 13th century says that the circumference of Usan is about 48 kilometers, which is the same as that for Ulleung. Therefore, Takeshima, which lies about 90 kilometers to the southeast of Ulleung, was not a subsidiary part of Usan.

Despite the absence of a historical basis, Chung Mong-joon visits Japan and says, “The past that the victim remembers and the memory of the past for which the victimizer repents must conform.” Thus the Korean victimizer that invaded Takeshima criticizes the victim Japan. The proliferation of these irresponsible words and deeds is due to a lazy textual analysis. The arbitrary interpretation of the text is the responsibility of South Korean researchers.

Hosaka Yuji, a naturalized Korean born in Japan who has kept his Japanese name, argues the Korean position on Takeshima. He said in a newspaper interview, “Takeshima became Korean territory after the Usan territory, which ruled both Ulleung and Usan (Takeshima), surrendered to Silla in 512. There are many Korean and Japanese documents that attest to this fact.” This is a typical example of the arbitrary interpretation of the clause about the year 512 in the Samguk Sagi.

How then has the Japanese government responded to South Korea, which continues to illegally occupy Takeshima? When questioned about the Takeshima issue before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the lower house of the Diet this February, Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya said, “I have decided in my heart not to use that expression (illegal occupation) so as not to elicit unneeded friction, and am conducting negotiations (in that way).” He has kept silent about the ongoing South Korean work to upgrade the heliport on the islets and to build maritime bases nearby.

Is this the intent of Prime Minister Hatoyama, who visited South Korea as DPJ secretary-general in May 2006? According to the October 2009 edition of the Monthly Chosun, Mr. Hatoyama was lectured for ninety minutes by the aforementioned Hosaka Yuji. The Japanese prime minister told then-Korean Prime Minister Han Myeong-suk, “All the territorial issues begin with history. It is necessary that I make an effort so that Japan has a more accurate understanding of historical fact in regard to the Takeshima issue.”

The South Koreans create a ruckus about Japanese historical distortions despite a far from satisfactory ability to read the relevant texts, and Japanese politicians in the DPJ administration have swallowed those South Korean claims whole. They themselves would cover up the fact that Japan was invaded. With this ignorance and incomprehension, has not the time come when it would benefit the people of both Japan and South Korea to have knowledge of that ignorance?

– Shimojo Masao

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Shimojo Masao (10): Whaling and the Japanese

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IN APRIL 675, the Temmu Tenno (emperor) issued an imperial edict banning the consumption of cows, horses, dogs, monkeys and chickens as food in Japan, a fervently Buddhist country. The custom of meat-eating was not widespread in Japan until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the acceptance of Western culture and institutions began. Animal proteins were obtained instead by catching fish in the surrounding seas. The hunting of whales and dolphins, which environmental protection groups in Western countries have made an issue in recent years, was one of the traditional fishing methods. Eating such foods as sushi and sashimi arose in a Japanese food culture based on fishing, and those foods are now recognized as healthful throughout the world.

In contrast, however, the dietary custom of eating fish raw did not arise on the Korean Peninsula and China, though they bordered the same seas. In those countries, the distribution channels for the sustainable consumption of fresh fish were not established, significant fishing industries did not arise, and markets in the consumption regions did not form. The successive dynasties of China built their capitals inland, and the development of distribution systems lagged. A meat-eating culture arose on the Korean Peninsula, where products were bartered in markets that opened once every five days. Sashimi began to be eaten on the Korean Peninsula after the modern period when the region was under Japanese rule. It was also only recently that the general public in China began to eat raw fish in the form of sashimi and sushi.

Thus, the seafood products previously eaten on the Korean Peninsula and in China were dried and/or cured, and sold without regard to their freshness. Such ingredients as shark fin, a popular dish in Chinese cuisine, as well as abalone, sea slugs, and kombu, a processed seaweed, were delicacies brought from far-off Japan. That manner of trade began during the Edo period (1603-1868) and continued thereafter. Shark fin and kombu are products from northeastern Japan and points north. During the Edo period, they were taken by sailing ships known as kitamaebune to Nagasaki by way of the Sea of Japan, and from there exported to China.

This peaceful East Asian world was disrupted by the arrival of foreign ships from Russia, Great Britain, the United States, and other countries. Their objective was two-fold: to seek trade with Japan, and supplies of firewood, water, and food for their whaling vessels. The post-Industrial Revolution countries in the West used whale oil in the lamps illuminating factories, so whaling in the seas near Japan was vital for them.

The uninhabited island known as Matsushima in Japan throughout the Edo period became known as the Liancourt Rocks on Western maps when the French whaling vessel Liancourt discovered it in 1849. Whaling, which had been conducted as a way to secure food in Japan, was conducted among the Western powers as a way to secure whale oil. Eventually, the demands of the Western powers that sought trade with Japan and supplies of firewood, water, and food for their whaling vessels led to the forced opening of the country, backed up by their military might. This was the principal cause of the disruption of the stable East Asian order.

Speaking of whaling, some peculiar logic has arisen in recent years–the thinking that whales and dolphins are special animals for people, and that this is tied in with the concept of environmental protection. That’s a serious contradiction with the culture of whaling in the West in the 19th century. The Academy Award-winning American film The Cove, which secretly filmed the dolphin hunt in Taiji, Wakayama, and condemned that hunt; Sea Shepherd’s violent obstruction of whaling; and other activities closely resemble the one-sided behavior of the Western Powers in the 19th century.

– Shimojo M.

UPDATE: Those reading this post for the first time who would like to read additional information about Korean whaling might find this worthwhile.

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Shimojo Masao (9): Tenno or Ilwang?

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, February 25, 2010

THE SOUTH KOREANS use the term ilwang (日王, or Japanese king), to refer to the Japanese Tenno, or emperor. But in the Confucian cultural sphere, the political standing of a king and the Tenno were entirely different. That’s because the term tenno also is used to designate an emperor. It is not the same as a king, which implies the existence of a subservient nobility. Why is it that South Koreans insist on calling the Tenno, which is nothing more than a historical proper noun, an ilwang, thereby turning an emperor into a king?

The South Korean explanation is that in the Confucian cultural sphere, the terms used for emperor, including tenno, are limited to Chinese historical dynasties that were suzerains. Using that word to denote the Japanese Tenno would place South Korea in the position of a Japanese vassal state.

It is a historical fact, however, that the situation in Japan was identical to that of the Chinese dynasties. The “shogun in charge of conquering barbarian territories” established a military government of the samurai class, known as the bakufu, after receiving the sanction of the Tenno. It used the Tenno’s era name as the symbol of an independent state. A superior-subordinate relationship was maintained between the shogun and the nobility, or daimyo. The relationship between the Tenno and the shogun was a system of governance that closely resembled the vassal system in which the Chinese dynasties made vassals of the nobility from the surrounding states. During the Edo period, governance was established as a system with the Shogunate and feudal domains.

Viewed from this historical perspective, there were two empires in the Confucian cultural sphere–China and Japan—and two people who were tenshi (天子, i.e., emperor, or the child of heaven). Located between China on the continent and the Japanese archipelago, the Korean Peninsula was historically subject to the geopolitical influence of those two states.

However, the Korean Peninsula, which had long been in a subordinate position to the Chinese dynasty, was annexed by Japan in August 1910. The peninsula was liberated from Japanese rule with the latter’s defeat in the Second World War. A movement arose in post-liberation South Korea to restore the historical conditions of the past, and that led to the emergence of a historical awareness that pressed for a settlement of past issues. Because South Korea had historically looked up to China as the suzerain, they viewed Japan has having been in the position of nobility–identical to the position of the peninsula. Therefore, for South Koreans to refer to the Japanese Tenno with that term would be tantamount to an admission they were still under Japanese rule, which would wound their self-respect.

The unique historical viewpoint of the Korean Peninsula, which holds that “this is how the history of the past should be”, has had a not-insubstantial impact on recent historical issues between Japan and South Korea, and South Korea and China. In South Korea, a contemporary historical aesthesis is used to evaluate history. That’s because they seek a settlement of the history of the past based on a historical viewpoint derived from that evaluation.

Joseon achieved “absolute independence as a self-governing nation” as the result of the 1894 war between Japan and China. That meant Japan, which was the victor in that war, was compelled to recognize the independence of Joseon, for which the Qing Dynasty had been the suzerain. Therefore, in accordance with the tradition of the states of the Confucian cultural sphere, Joseon reinstituted the Greater Korean Empire in 1896, installed Gojong as the emperor, and established an era name. That’s why, in South Korea, the descendents of Emperor Gojong of the Greater Korean Empire are known as “imperial descendants”.

In recent years, there have been discussions between Japan and South Korea about a possible visit by the Japanese Tenno to the latter country. If there were an opportunity for the Tenno to meet with Gojong’s descendents during such a visit, and the South Korean historical view of the Tenno as the ilwang remained intact, would the mass media in that country report that the “imperial descendants” had met with the “Japanese king”?

History should not be cavalierly rewritten from the arbitrary interpretation of later generations. One obstacle when considering the establishment of an East Asian entity is a barren historical viewpoint based on a contemporary aesthesis that would go so far as to recreate the history of the past in conformity with present attitudes.

– Shimojo Masao

Posted in China, History, Imperial family, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Shimojo Masao (8): Loyalty and filial piety

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Loyalty and Filial Piety

Though Japan is one of the countries of the Confucian cultural sphere, its native psychological temperament and social systems differ greatly from those of the Korean Peninsula and China. One of those differences is the strong Japanese awareness of belonging to an organization. The sense of loyalty to organizations and groups is stronger in Japan, while the tendency on the Korean Peninsula and China is to favor independence. People there will move to competing organizations and groups if the conditions are favorable.

Of the Confucian virtues of loyalty and filial piety, loyalty is given greater emphasis in Japan. The respect for filial piety on the continent is related to an emphasis on the blood relationship between father and son. When deceased ancestors are celebrated in religious rites in the Confucian culture, those related by blood must conduct the services. Therefore, one objective of marriage is to produce a male heir. It was a tradition that the failure to bear sons would be considered legitimate grounds for divorce, and the wife could not complain. The reason for such practices as taking concubines and adopting children from blood relatives was to maintain the bloodline. Historically, the interests of the family rather than those of the individual are emphasized on the Korean Peninsula and China.

That’s why, on the Korean Peninsula and China, castration was used as a form of criminal punishment and there was a role for court eunuchs. Such was not the case in Japan. Save for execution, castration was the most serious punishment that could have been administered. Cutting off the sexual organs and removing the ability to procreate eliminates the possibility of descendants, which also meant that honoring the spirits of one’s ancestors would no longer be possible. That was regarded as the absence of filial piety.

In China, those who received this punishment would be assigned important roles in the court, but an official system for court eunuchs did not exist on the Korean Peninsula. Instead, they were put in the service of court officials or those in authority in such places as temples.

The Korean system was not adopted in Japan, even though the latter was also influenced by Confucian culture. That’s because in Japan, the subordinate-superior relationship with land as an intermediary factor was considered of greater importance than a blood relationship. Private ownership of land began earlier in Japan than on the Continent, and with the appearance of the samurai class, land was bequeathed to one’s descendants. Those in superior positions allowed others the right of land ownership. That in turn led to the creation of a psychological structure in which the subordinates felt a sense of obligation and rendered their loyalty to the superior.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the daimyo granted the samurai with a heredity land stipend usually assessed in units of koku (one koku = 4.96 bushels). The standard was the amount of rice the land produced, and the stipend was based on the samurai’s rank. The samurai converted the rice to money and lived off the proceeds. The same concept survives in the corporate world today; Japanese salarymen still think of themselves as corporate warriors who owe allegiance to the company. The basic unit is now the nuclear family rather than the extended family.

Koreans, in contrast, continue to compile records for the entire clan (known as jokbo), and such clans with the surname of Bak or Kim still thrive. That’s the difference between societies which emphasize blood relations and those that emphasize organized groups.

– Shimojo Masao

Posted in China, History, South Korea, Traditions | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Shimojo Masao (7): Duty and social standing

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 27, 2009

Duty and Social Standing

Japanese tend to consider employment at one company until retirement to be the ideal. The lifetime employment system is a characteristic of Japanese-style management, and it originates in attitudes that existed during the Edo period (1603-1868). The social structure during that period was overlaid with the feudal system. Therefore, it was often the case that the transmission of a hereditary occupation fixed one’s social standing. The work of one’s family was passed from generation to generation as the family business. Naturally, craftsmen and merchants were compared to the founder of the enterprise and his successors—their predecessors—in terms of technique and business acumen. Also, as successive generations of customers patronized those craftsmen and merchants, they evaluated their skills and business conduct.

For that reason, craftsmen and merchants worked relentlessly to improve themselves and hone their abilities until they approached those of the founder of the enterprise and those of succeeding generations. They thought it shameful if they failed to accomplish this, and redoubled their efforts until they succeeded. As a result, even the feudal class division of samurai-farmer-craftsman-merchant was linked to a milieu in which everyone exerted themselves to the utmost in the occupation (duty) allotted to them. Samurai strived to conduct themselves as ideal samurai; farmers worked in accordance with the concept of the ideal farmer.

The logic behind this concept of employment has been the impetus behind the success of the Japanese manufacturing industry. The people on the shop floor endeavor to provide the finest craftsmanship and work so as to make even better products, even if their wages are relatively low, because in that behavior they discover their reward. In short, one’s role is considered to be the performance of one’s obligations.

This conception of duty and obligation did not arise in China and South Korea, the other countries in the Confucian cultural sphere. The social structure in those countries was based on a centralized authority, so even when the rulers compelled their subjects to work and produce, those subjects did not become engaged in craftsmanship of their own accord. In Joseon and China, craftsmen were viewed as serfs, and craftsmanship and production were considered drudgery.

South Korea has now attained the standing of a developed nation. Yet, they are plagued by a shortage of factory workers, regardless of the duration of economic downturns. That’s due to their conception of the manufacturing industry as hard labor.

– Shimojo Masao

Posted in China, History, South Korea, Traditions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Land use in China

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IN THE POST immediately preceding this one, Prof. Shimojo Masao makes a reference to agricultural reform in China and the private ownership of land. He holds that agricultural problems in China will not be solved until land can be privately owned and democratic reforms established.

In one of those serendipitous examples of synchronicity, fewer than 12 hours after posting it, I ran across this article from the Hoover Institute that compares land reform in Russia in the post-Soviet era and in China in the post-Mao era. It is both enlightening and frustrating. On the one hand, it does present a contrast worth considering. On the other, the authors celebrate the wonders of Chinese agrarian reform while glossing over the critical fact that Chinese farmers still cannot own land outright. They offer a vague hope that it might be possible in the future, depending on the way in which a new law passed in 2007 will be implemented.

I understand that academics and intellectuals as well as journalists want to pitch a tent to present a point of view, and create narratives to further that presentation. But why is it so difficult for them to realize the reader needs the basic facts first. They’re not going to find them all here. The curious reader will have to plow through several more articles and sift through several bushels of infotainment before a picture begins to take shape.

That picture contains several scenes the Hoover Institute article doesn’t even hint at–serious anti-governmental unrest in rural areas and a Chinese debate over what degree of private ownershop is necessary.

It will come as no surprise the author of this Time magazine article chose to dramatize government thuggishness–it’s a glossy infotainment mag, after all–but still didn’t manage to get the facts down. (He says land is owned by the state. Chinese farmland is owned by the individual villages.) This recent Financial times article has more information, but still does not present the basic fact about Chinese land ownership.

This Christian Science Monitor article has the same problem. None of these articles, however, make it clear that the Chinese government is still opposed to private ownership. That information is to be found in this piece in the Vancouver Sun.

This summary by the Council on Foreign Relations is much better, but again they have little to say about the new law. (It will allow freeholding rather than outright ownership.) Instead they just provide a link to the English translation of the law itself. Couldn’t they have found the time and space–a clearly written paragraph?–to properly explain, rather than invite the reader to wade through 247 articles of legalese?

Yet again one has to recognize the brilliance of Akutagawa Ryunosuke for his literary montage Rashomon, later turned into a film by Kurosawa Akira that starred Mifune Toshiro. It tells the story of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife from the perspectives of four people. Their accounts differ so greatly the reader or viewer wonders if they are describing the same incident.

That, however, was fiction. How unfortunate that it also describes the state of academic writing and journalism.

Posted in Agriculture, Business, finance and the economy, China, Government, Mass media | Tagged: | 3 Comments »