The Japanese Foreign Ministry was confused as to the location of the Matsushima mentioned in Mutoh Heigaku's petition not only because the island described sounded similar to the Korean island of Ulleungdo, which the Japanese referred to as Takeshima, but also because Matsushima was the name of an island near Japan's Oki Island that the Japanese referred to as "Oki's Matsushima" (隱岐ノ松島) and Western maps referred to as either Liancourt Rocks or Hornet Rocks.
Moreover, the British added to the confusion when the captain of the Bristish ship "HMS Argonaut" lost a rudder near Ulleungdo in 1789 and mismapped Ulleungdo's location as 37º 32' N and and 129º 50 E, resulting in many Western maps showing the non-existent island of "Argonaut" about 109 kilometers to the northwest of the real Ulleungdo, which was referred to by many Western nations as "Dagelet Island." This map confusion lasted through most of the 1800s.
Then in 1840, a map by Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold HERE was published that added to he confusion by co-labeling the non-existent island of Argonaut as "Takeshima," which was the Japanese name for Ulleungdo, and the real Ulleungdo as "Matsushima," which was the Japanese name for Liancourt Rocks. Dr. Siebold seems to have mistakenly shifted the names he saw on Japanese maps up from Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks to Argonaut and Ulleungdo, respectively.
Opinion on Matsushima - 2
I have heard that Matsushima (松島) and Takeshima (竹島), called Ulleungdo in Korea, are just two names for the same island. However, I have also heard from the former Governor of Tottori Prefecture that there are, indeed, two islands. According to writings by Toda Takayoshi (戶田敬義), Katou (加藤), and Ken Kanamori (金森謙), there is an island called Takeshima about 40 ri to the north of the West Island (西島) of Oki’s Matsushima (隱岐囯松島) . [West Island is just a small island of Matsushima that islanders call “Next Island” (次島).] Also, it is said that Takeshima is about 140 ri by ship from Yonago in Hoki Province (伯州米子). They say that you can sail from Yonago to Izumo (出雲) and then on past Oki’s Matsushima (隠岐ノ松島) to reach Takeshima (Ulleungdo).
However, it is also written that it is about 60 ri by ship from Oki’s Fukushima (福島), also called Fukuura (福浦), to Matsushima, and then about 40 ri from Matsushima to Takeshima. Moreover, it is about 40 ri from Takeshima on to Korea. This is based on the story of an old man who in 1724, the 9th year of Kyoho (享保), testified that he had sailed there several times. When asked he said, “The distance from the village of Mitsuyanagi of Hamanome (濱野目・三柳村) in Aimi County (會見郡) of Hoki Province (伯州) to Oki’s Dogo Island (隠岐ノ後島) is between 35 and 36 ri. Using this distance one can guess the distance from Takeshima to the mountains of Korea to be about 40 ri.” Based on this, there definitely seems to be two islands.
If we look at Western texts, the British “Imperial Gazetteer” says that Dagelet Island (pronounced as “Dazera”), that is Matsushima, is an island in the Sea of Japan that is situated between the Japanese Archipelago and the Korean Peninsula. Its northwest corner is at 37º 25' N and 130º 56' E (Greenwich means). It was named by La Pérouse in 1787. It has a coastline of sheer cliffs and is approximately 9 ri around. It is covered by dense forest up to its highest point.Also, “Lippincott’s Pronouncing Gazetteer of the World” says that Dagelet is a small island in the Sea of Japan that is exactly between Japan and Korea. It has a circumference of 8 ri and is positioned at 37º 25' N and 130º 56' E. If you look this up on a map, the location of the island labeled as Dagelet, or Matsushima, on the British Navy’s nauticalchart seems to be at the same position in both books.
The British “Royal Atlas”; the “Atlas Universel,” by Brué of France; “Map of Japan and Korea” by James Wyld, geographer to the British Queen; “Map of Asia” by Kiepert of Germany; 1875 Gotha: “Stieler Atlas”; a map by the Geographische Institu in Weimar all show the island of Dagelet in the same position.It is said an island is drawn with dotted lines, except on the British nautical chart, at 129º 57' E and 37º 50' N and labeled “Argonaut” or “Takeshima.” The island is also clearly shown at the same position on a map of the Russian Mapping Bureau.
Also, in the text of Ken Kanamori (金森謙), it is written that Takeshima has a circumference of 15 ri. Moreover, it you add up all the measurements done by Toda Takayoshi (戶田敬義) on his map, they total about 23 ri. (That includes all the ins and outs of the shoreline.) That circumference is more than just a little different than that of Matsushima, or Dagelet. On the south corner of the map is drawn an island that has a circumference of about 1.5 ri. That island is probably Uindo (于人島) [Uindo (于人島) probably a misspelling of Usando (于山島)].
However, Matsushima and Takeshima are two islands, and since Matsushima is closer to our country than Takeshima, Korea also cannot oppose our saying Matsushima is part of Japan.
And regarding the importance of the island, it is situated almost midway between Japan and Korea. It is on the sea route from our San’in (山陰) region to Korea’s Yeongheung-bu (永興府), namely Port Wonsan, in Hamgyeong Province (咸鏡道),. When traveling from Nagasaki to Port Vladivostok, one must pass it, which means it is many times more important than Takeshima. Moreover, it has frequently caught the attention of such countries as English and Russia. It is known in this way by several other countries.
However, in our country it is unknown if Matsushima and Takeshima are two islands or one. Accordingly, we do not know if it is part of Korea or not. If a foreign country were to ask, we would not know how to answer. If we decide it does belong to our country, we must show obligation to it. If we decide it belongs to Korea, we do not know how foreign countries will react, so we must be careful. We must try reflecting on this point.
Written by Bureau of Documents Director Watanabe Kouki (渡辺洪基)