Fishing in the Senkaku Islands in the Meiji Era (Senkaku Islands Document Material Compilation Association Summary)

According to a summary by the Senkaku Islands Document Material Compilation Association (Ref. 1), in 1890 Okinawa Governor Maruoka Kanji gave prefectural official Hanawa Tadao a special assignment to interview fishermen from the village of Itoman in the southern part of Okinawa. Hanawa found that a total of 78 fishermen from Itoman went to fish around Kuba Island and Uotsuri Island, that they had built huts there, and that they had plans to move there. He also learned that the fishermen caught or gathered yakogai sea snails, large sharks, tuna, red laver, and albatrosses and other seabirds. This was the first survey conducted regarding fishing in the Senkaku Islands.

The association has also examined a document published in 1890 in the first issue of the Okinawa Young Men's Association Magazine. This described how Matsumura Jinnosuke had led more than 70 fishermen to "Kuba Island" (believed to be Uotsuri Island, but at the time the names of Kuba Island and Uotsuri Island were frequently confused, so it is impossible to be certain) and had already caught a huge amount of fish in more than three months of activity. The association speculates and expands on a relationship between this and Koga Tatsurshiro's sending of fishermen to harvest yakogai sea snails and conduct other fishing activities in the Senkaku Islands before 1897, as well as the petition from Okinawa Prefecture to the Home Ministry to build sovereignty markers because of the need to regulate fishing activities.

Further, in Chigaku zasshi (Journal of Geography) Compendium 12, No. 143 (1900), the article "Kobi Island" by Miyajima Mikinosuke describes events from 1891 to 1893. In 1891, a group of Japanese fishermen led by Izawa Yakita stayed for a short time on Uotsuri Island and Kuba Island, fishing and harvesting albatross down, but on crossing to the islands again in 1893 they met with a typhoon and were washed ashore in Fuzhou, China.

The association has also collated information from various documents and materials showing that there were numerous fishing groups focused on and operating in the Senkaku Islands before Koga Tatsushiro received permission to develop the islands and sent fishermen there. (Ref. 1)




Ref.1 :Senkaku Islands Document Material Compilation Association, "Senkaku Shoto kaiiki no gyogyo ni kansuru chosa hokoku: Okinawa ken ni okeru senzen-Nihon fukki (1972) no ugoki" (Survey Report Regarding Fishing in the Senkaku Islands Waters: Changes in Okinawa Prefecture From Before World War II Until Its Return to Japan in 1972), in Senkaku kenkyu (Senkaku Research), 2010. Published with assistance from a grant by the Nippon Foundation)




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