1693 – 1696 The Takeshima incident: the negotiation about Takeshima (Ulleungdo)
After the deportation of the two Koreans including Ahn Yong-bok, the both countries negotiated about the possession of Takeshima (Ulleungdo).
So, the lord of
To follow is a letter from Chosun’s official to the lord of
To the lord of
(greetings at the beginning were not translated.)
Our country strictly inhibited to go to the sea and restrain the
fishermen of the east coast from making a voyage on the ocean. (They can’t go
easily to) even 蔚陵島 (Ulleungdo) which is our border because it’s too
far and they are not permitted to go there voluntarily, let alone outer place
than the island. But now these fishing boats went to Takeshima in your
territory. And you sent them back to us from the far place. We thank your
friendship. Fishermen have the nature of going far crossing border to catch fish
if there was no wind and could drift with the current. We will punish them
severely. These criminals committed a sin. We will strictly control the coast,
instructing each of them. Thank you very much for your kindness. We hope you
will be alright.
This letter is a kind of trick because it says that Ulleungdo and Takeshima are different islands so that Chosun governs Ulleungdo while
(Note: Ahn Yong-bok was to be punished at this moment as a criminal, although he escaped from it later.)
Tada Yozaemon, the messenger from
To follow is from a document made by
Concerning Takeshima, it is no doubt that it
has been ruled by Inaba (of
) since the Japan
years of Tokugawa Ieyasu (the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate). That country (Chosun) has left the island alone and kept indifferent about it for many years and it is almost right to say that it is in our country. So we can’t overlook
the deceptive letter using two names for one island. Soon we sent a reply to ask
to erase the word of 蔚陵島 (Ulleungdo), and to send the rewritten letter
back to us. (some sentences abbreviated)
We would dispatch a messenger to Chosun as the
and Chosun is important. Japan
Then, Tada Yozaemon went to Busan again in May of the 7th year of Genroku (1694) and claimed them to delete the word. But there was a political change in the Chosun’s government. The three major posts, 領義政, 左義政 and 右義政 were changed from 権大運, 睦来善 and 閔黯respectively to南九万, 朴世采 and 尹趾完. With this political change, hard-liners were on the rise. A new official wrote a new letter on 12th September and refuted the Takeshima-Japan’s territory theory.
From Chosun’s official (朝鮮国礼曹参判李番)
To the lord of
(greetings at the beginning were not translated)
There is an island belonging to 江原道 蔚珍県in our country. Its name is 蔚陵 and is located in the east sea of this area. Wind
and waves are very rough and there is no service to go there. So the island is
uninhibited all through the year. But officials are occasionally visiting there
for inspection. The peaks of this island are thickly wooded and they can be
clearly seen from the homeland. The mountains and rivers are meandering, and the land is narrow.
There are ruins of human residence. Productions from the soil
are rich. It’s written in the book 輿地勝覧 of our country. They have passed the information
successively about the island and the remains are evident. Now this time our
country’s fishermen went there and met your countrymen who crossed the border.
They caught two people who resisted and transported them to
Edo. Fortunately, the feudal lord (Shogun?) of your
country recognized the situation and helped them. This friendship of neighbors
looks enormous. We moved very much. However, the place where our people engaged
in fishing was 蔚陵島 (Ulleungdo), it was also called as 竹島 (Takeshima, Jukdo) as it produces lots of bamboo.
There are two names in one island, and this was not only written in our
country’s books but also people in your country know all about this. But in your
letter, you wrote that you make Takeshima your country’s region and you want our
country to inhibit our fish boats from going there. You didn’t say that your
countrymen invaded over our border and you worry about our people to go there.
Isn’t this out of the right way of life? We hope you will forward our intention
to the Shogun and let him know that your country’s fishermen come and go to 蔚陵島 without permission. ・・・(the greetings in the end were
(Note: The Chosun government brought the book 輿地勝覽 to prove that Ulleungdo was their territory. But 300 years later, the South Korean government brought the same book again to prove that Liancourt rocks were their territory. The same sentence was once used to prove that Ulleungdo was their territory and it was used again to prove that another island (Liancourt rocks) were their territory. This is unreasonable.)
In response to this letter, Tada Yozaemon cross-examined Chosun government giving four items:
#1: Your (Chosun) government says that you keep sending officials
for inspecting Ulleungdo on the regular basis. But our fishermen from Tottori or
Izumo have never met the Chosun officials in 81 years. Why?
#2: Your (Chosun) government says that “Your (Japanese) countrymen
invaded over our border”. Some of the Japanese fishermen who set off for
Ulleungdo have drifted ashore to Chosun three times in the past, and you sent
them back with letters. You all knew that these fishermen were engaging in
fishing at that island. If you truly thought that these fishermen invaded your
territory, why didn’t you write about it in these three letters? You have never
ever claimed of “invading over our border” in these letters.
#3: As to Ulleungdo and Takeshima, the recent letter does not only
say that there are two names to one island but it also says that our countrymen
all knew this. You mentioned that it was written in the books and you say that
our countrymen all knew this. Then, why did the first letter say that there are
two names to two islands, stating “Your country’s Takeshima and our Ulleungdo”?
If you didn’t know that Ulleungdo was Takeshima at first and wrote about two
names to two islands, why does the recent letter say that it was written in the
books and all of our people know that there are two names to one
#4: There are three letters concerning Iso-takeshima (Ulleungdo)
that were sent from Chosun to
Tsushimain the past. When Tsushima tried to confirm the belonging of the island 82 years ago, a letter from the東莱府 said that “This island is so-called Ulleungdo of ours. Although it is uninhibited, we won’t let others invade or occupy it”. The second letter also mentioned the same. But when Japanese fishermen who headed for Ulleungdo drifted ashore to your country 78 years ago, you sent them back with the letter written by a Chosun official, saying “Seven Japanese were caught by the local officials. When asked, they said that they went to Ulleungdo for fishing but high wind made them drift ashore. We send them back with the Japanese ship to your island ( Tsushima)”. You
wrote that you wouldn’t let others invade it 82 years ago and you permitted them
after hearing that they engaged in fishing at the island 78 years ago, but this
is inconsistent. We can’t keep from cross-examining you about this.
There was a reply from Chosun government on 12th June 1695:
It says about the first topic, “The inspection was written in the book 輿地勝覧 and a Japanese called Sobe-e said to the Chosun official 朴再興 ‘After reading輿地勝覧, Ulleungdo belongs to your country’”. It also says, “In these days, officials has not been there and inhibited fishermen from going far because of danger of voyaging”.
As to the 2nd topic, it says that they were so in hurry to send them back that they didn’t have time to ask about details. And as for the 3rd and 4th topics, it says that the former official who wrote the first letter didn’t know about history.
Tada Yozaemon refuted again;
He pointed out that to argue relying on the old book which was written 200 years ago is not right. He also stated that the island has belonged to
And in the end, the negotiations broke down. Tada Yozaemon returned to
[Note: The Shogunate banned to go to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) but not to Matsushima (Liancourt rocks). The latter had not ever been disputed between the two countries.]