The discovery of a new island in the Sea of Japan in 1901 was big news not only in Japan, but also in Canada and the United States, where several newspapers reported the discovery. It was hard for people to believe that an island in the Sea of Japan could have gone undiscovered for so long.
The article in the March 10 publication also claimed that both Japanese and Korean fisherman referred to the newly discovered island as "Yanko," which the article claimed was discovered by a Japanese fisherman a couple of years earlier.
The island described in the article was almost certainly Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima / Dokdo), which had been discovered centuries earlier by Japanese fishermen and did appear on British, Russian, and Japanese sea charts at the time, so the article was wrong to claim the island was newly discovered.
The editor and publisher of the Black Dragon Society publication was a man named Kuzuu Shuusuke (葛生修亮), who, according to another article in the same publication, had spent a few years in Korea researching its geography, so he probably got his information on the mysterious island of "Yanko" in Korea, where he was enrolled in the Association of Korean Fishery. The fact that he knew that both Japanese and Korean fishermen referred to the newly discovered island as "Yanko" suggests that he had either traveled to Ulleungdo during his trip to Korea or interviewed someone who had been to Ulleungdo, where both Japanese and Korean fishermen probably knew of the island. Also, it is very likely someone in Korea told him that "Yanko" was not part of Korean territory, someone who knew of the island.
The following is Kaneganese's English translation of the 10 March 1901 Japanese article:
"A Newly Discovered Island in the Sea of Japan"
About 30 ri southeast of Joseon’s Ulleungdo, and about the same distance northwest of Japan’s Oki County, there is an unnamed island unknown to the world. The island has never been shown on British sea charts, nor on sea charts of Japan or Russia. It has also never been incorporated into Joseon territory, but the island does, in fact, exist. Those who have returned from Ulleungdo have said that one can see it in the distance to the southeast from the highest peak of Ulleungdo when the weather is good.
According to the history of this island’s discovery, one or two years ago, when a western Japan fishing boat with diving apparatus was searching for fish far out to sea in an unfamiliar area, the crew unexpectedly saw the island. They happily established a base there and explored the surrounding waters. There were many fish, but, unfortunately, many of them could not be caught because of a colony of several hundred sea lions. They were forced to return frustrated.
After this incident some fishing experts investigated and reported that the fishing boat with the diving apparatus probably went to the island in about May or June, which is the breeding season for sea lions. They said that was probably why they were obstructed.
According to the diving contractor, who himself saw the island, it has a slope of close to 30 cho, and the hills are not very high. Here and there are weeds and bushes. The shape of the island is quite irregular, so it is a good place for ships to harbor and avoid the wind and waves. However, even if you dig a few feet below the surface, there is no water, so it cannot be described as a good place for processing sea products.
-----------------------However, it is still sufficiently worthwhile for navigators and fishermen to explore. By the way, Japanese and Korean fishermen call this island "Yanko."
Here is the Japanese:
朝鮮の欝陵島を東南に去ることを三十里、我帝國の隠岐國を西北に距ること又殆んど同里数の海中に於て世人未知の無名島あり 此島未だ英國の海圖にも載せられず 日本露西亜の海圖にも記されず 又朝鮮の版圖にも編せられず 然れども其島の存在することは事実にして、現に欝陵島より帰りたるものは晴天の日同島山峯の高處に於て東南の方に遥かに島あるを認むと云へり
今此島發見の歴史を聞くに 一二年前西國筋の一潜水器船魚類を尋ねて遠く海中に出でたる時 見馴れざる場所に不圖一島嶼あるを認め 悦んで此處に根拠を据へ其四隣の海中を漁り廻りたるに 魚類の生息することは非常なれども 不幸にして數百頭の海馬の群れに悩まされ 何分にも饒多なる魚類の捕獲を全ふせず、ホウボウの体にて逃げ帰らざるべからざることとなりぬ、
其後此事を以て或水産家に糺したるに 潜水器船の同島に到りたるは季節恰も五六月の交なりし故 海馬の産期に当るを以て其妨害を受けたるものなるべしと云ふ
同潜水業者が實見せる所にては 同島は流れ三十町に近く丘陵甚だ高からざれ共處々雑草雑木を生じ 島形又極めて屈曲多く漁船を泊し風浪を避くるには頗る好地位に在り 但し地上數尺の間は之を穿て其水を得ざるを以て 現今の處水産物製造場としては未だ好都合なりと云ふを得ずとのことなり 去れど
航海家水産業者の為めには尚ほ充分探険の価値あるべし 因みに曰く 日韓漁民は此島を呼んで「ヤンコ」と云へり
|10 March 1901 Article from the Black Dragon Society publication|
|Publishing information page from the 10 March 1901 Black Dragon Society publication|
|14 April 1901 Article from "The Japan Times"|
|18 April 1901 Article from the "San-in Shimbun"|
|31 May 1901 Article from "The Long Island Farmer," Jamaica, New York|
|22 June 1901 Article from the "Straits Times," Singapore|
|30 July 1901 Article from "The Pacific Commercial Advertiser," Honolulu|