Creation of the New National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty - To build a place for thinking about Japan’s territories

On January 20, 2020, the National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty was relocated from Hibiya to Toranomon with expanded area. As introduced in Volume 9, No. 21 of the Journal of Islands Studies, the establishment of this newly relocated and expanded Museum owes its basic ideas to the recommendations by the Advisory Panel on Communications Concerning Territorial Integrity (July 29, 2019).2 The recommendations, titled “For Practical Initiatives to Strengthen Communication Based on Changes in the Domestic and Overseas Environment,” has gone far beyond just assembling general rules, suggesting many concrete plans presumed to be put into practice. All of the members of this Advisory Panel had either participated continuously in the Panel since its creation back in 2013, shortly after the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination on Territory and Sovereignty was established under the Cabinet Secretariat, or had actually been involved in activities in the area of territory and sovereignty. They joined not merely as leading scholars in academic fields, but gathered under the framework aligned for considering ways and means that meet specific demands, and are practically feasible. They visualized valuable ideas and thoughts in the form of the recommendation.

Japan Coast Guard Activities On and Around Takeshima

The islands of Takeshima, an inherent part of Japanese territory, have been occupied by South Korea from 1954. The Japan Coast Guard is believed to have had its first involvement with the islands when it conducted surveys in June of the previous year. Hirose Hajime, an emeritus professor at the Japan Coast Guard Academy, traces the history of the JCG involvement with Takeshima, examining teaching materials, accounts of the surveys in the 1950s, and JCG white papers and annual reports.

English-Language Research Papers Related to Takeshima Prepared by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1947

During the occupation period, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a series of research papers to the United States. Some of these focused on territorial issues as Japan sought to clarify what it would retain in the peace settlement. There is an argument that Japanese lobbying efforts during this period led to the mistaken definition of Takeshima as not being a part of Korean territory in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. But the legal scholar Tsukamoto Takashi’s examination concludes that this was not the case.

Refutation of Korean Media Claims Regarding Japanese Maps of Takeshima(Part1)

The South Korean media produce a steady flow of commentary claiming that the island Takeshima, known in Korean as Dokdo, has been shown to be historically Korean territory by some newly discovered maps or documents. In the first part of his two-part essay, the historical geographer Funasugi Rikinobu notes that the International Court of Justice is unlikely to view old maps as a solid basis for sovereignty. Through a detailed examination of the District Overview Map, produced by the Japanese authorities in 1936, he counters Korean claims that its maps show Takeshima to be Korean territory.

International Symposium in Korea on the Takeshima Dispute

Sakamoto Shigeki, a professor of international law, attended a November 2011 symposium in Seoul marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Syngman Rhee Line, by which South Korea designated a broad stretch of the Sea of Japan, including Takeshima, as Korean territory. This was a blow to Japanese fishing operators, who were forcibly prevented from fishing these waters, and Japan protested the Rhee Line until its 1965 repeal. Takeshima remains under Korean occupation, though, and recent moves to position the Rhee Line as a precursor to today’s exclusive economic zone concept are troubling.

The Debate on Island Issues at International Conferences

A number of international scholarly gatherings in recent years have taken up such subjects as delimitation of maritime boundaries, ocean governance, and maritime jurisdictional disputes. Here Terasaki Naomichi Hiro, a legal specialist and senior fellow at the Ocean Policy Research Foundation, gives an overview of three conferences he attended, presenting information on ways in which participants referred to Japanese islands including Okinotorishima Island, Takeshima, and the Senkakus—at times even when those islands were not the topic of the gathering in question.