Koreans say that the Japanese also used the name "Matsushima" to refer to Liancourt Rocks at the time, so the document was recognizing Korea's claim to Liancourt Rocks; however, in the report, the Japanese clearly said that they had no previous record of Ulleungdo's Matsushima, which means Ulleungdo's Matsushima could not have been Japan's Matsushima (Liancourt Rocks) since Japan did have records of Liancourt Rocks. Also, the report was describing Ulleungdo from information they received in Korea, which means that it was the Koreans who were calling Ulleungdo's neighboring island Songdo (Matsushima), not the Japanese, which also means it was not referring to Liancourt Rocks since Koreans have never used Songdo (Matsushima) to refer to Liancourt Rocks. Moreover, the Japanese writting the report were not recognizing anything; they were only describing what they heard about Ulleungdo during their stay in Korea, and what they heard was that Ulleungdo had a neighboring island called "Songdo" (Matsushima).
The following is a translation of the Ulleungdo section of the report.
How Takeshima & Matsushima Became Part of Joseon
As to this matter, Matsushima is a neighboring
(Ulleungdo). We have no previous records of Matsushima. In regard to Takeshima, after the Genroku years (1688 - 1704), Joseon ( islandof Takeshima ) sent people there to live for awhile, but now, as before, it is uninhabited. It produces bamboo and also reeds thicker than bamboo. Ginseng and other products also grow there naturally. We have also heard that there is an abundance of marine products. Korea
One of the four Japanese on the mission was, Sada Hakubo (佐田白茅, 1832-1907), a man who wrote a book in 1903 describing details of the mission. The book was entitled, "A Story of My Old Dreams about Seikanron – Debate on the Conquest of Korea" (征韓論の旧夢談). The following are some details from the book.
Sada Hakubo and colleagues received an order from the Meiji government in 1869 (2nd year of Meiji) to go to Joseon to conduct an investigation of the country in fourteen subject areas. They arrived in Busan at the end of Februry 1870 and stayed there for almost three weeks at the old Japanese Embassy (wakan), from which they conducted their investigation. Their 1870 written report was entitled "The Investigational Report on Details of Joseon's Friendship" (‘朝鮮国交際始末内探書). The last of the fourteen sections of the reported was entitled, “How Takeshima & Matsushima Became Part of Joseon,” which was written on just two pages. Hakubo investigated Joseon with Moriyama Shigeru and Saitoh Sakae, who were also from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Doctor Hirotsu Hironobu (Shunzo), joined the mission in
The mission was sent to find out why the Joseon government refused to receive an official letter from the new Meiji government, who wanted to establish a modern diplomatic relationship with the Joseon government instead of using the feudal clan in Tsushima as a go-between. Therefore, Hakubo and his colleagues were sent to investigate the situation in Joseon. Here is a quote from the book:
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sawa, summoned me [Hakubo] and explained that I had to make an official trip. The main reason was that the government had not received a reply from Joseon in regard to a sovereign letter reporting the restoration of Meiji, which was sent the previous year from the Dajoukan [the supreme ministry in the Meiji government until 1885] through the feudal clan of
Tsushima. Even though the government repeatedly demanded a reply, Joseon did not respond, so the government wanted to know what was happening in Joseon and needed to press them for a reply.
To enter Korea, the minister advised us not to refer to ourselves as a mission, and suggested that we pretend to be probationers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (外務省出仕) or people from the feudal clan of Tsushima. No one, except for people of
Tsushima, had traveled to Joseon in the 200 years since the Tokugawa shogunate stopped diplomatic relations, so we would be the first since then. The minister also advised me to consult with the feudal lord of Tsushimaon everything. He then added that he had considered sending a merchant because we also had to investigate trade activities, but he gave up on the idea and decided to sent Saitoh Sakae, who was a specialist on commerce, andMoriyama Shigeru, who later became a member of the House of Peers. He said that there would be three of us, but that we could take two attendants with us.
They went by the steamship Onsen Maru to Izuhara in
Joseon is a bigoted country, as you know, and they are uncivilized, so please do not go by steamship; change to a Japanese sailboat. If you go by steamship, Koreans would be terrified and would become suspicious. You would be unable to negotiate with them, and the reply to the letter would be further postponed, so please do not use a steamship. We will give you a Japanese sailboat.
Instead, they took the steamship back to
Hakubo talked with Joseon government officials at the Japanese embassy (“Wakan”) in Busan about the reply to the Japanese sovereign letter. There was no mention in the book that Hakubo investigated the Takeshima and Matsushima issue. Saitoh Sakae, who went to Joseon with Hakubo, was a commerce specialist, so he may have been there to investigate trade and commerce.
In those days, Joseon maintained an isolationist policy, so activity of Japanese in Korea was strictly limited. Hakubo wrote in his book that there was a double checkpoint that foreigners, including Japanese, could not go beyond. To sail along the coast from Busan was also strictly prohibited. Hakubo did not go to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) or Matsushima, himself, so it is very likely that he obtained the information for his report in Busan, which means it was all hearsay.
By the way, Korean, Lee Gyu-won, surveyed Ulleungdo in 1882, twelve years after Hokubo’s report, and in Lee’s report there was no mention of Liancourt Rocks. However, in Lee's pre-inspection interview with King Kojong, both Lee and King Kojong said that Ulleungdo had a neighboring island called "Songjukdo," which they also said was sometimes called "Songdo" and "Jukdo." As mentioned above, "Songdo" is the Korean pronunciation of Matsushima (松島). Gerry Bevers has written about Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Songdo HERE.
Considering the above, it is very likely that the Matsushima (Songdo) mentioned in the 1870 Japanese report was referring to Ulleungdo's small, neighbouring island of Jukdo, which was sometimes called "Songdo" (Matsushima), according to both King Kojong and Lee Gyu-won in 1882.