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Dokdo VS Takesima

On July 14, The Japanese government announced that the ownership of the Dokdo islands would be mentioned in a teaching guide for social studies at junior high schools.  This announcement means the Japanese government makes our islands, Dokdo islands, part of Japan's territory.  Because of this, the Korean government and Korean people are angry with the Japanese government.  Korean people demonstrated in front of the Japanese embassy and raised funds for Dokdo.  Celebrities like Kim Jang-hun, did awareness and information activities in foreign countries.  So, why does Japan say the Dokdo is Japan's territory? 


1. The Japanese government insists they have legal juristiction over Dokdo. 

 In 1905, Simane, a city in Japan, announced that the Dokdo islands (called Takesima by the Japanese) are under the jurisdiction of Simane.  In 1984, the Foreign Minister Abe Santaro said "According to history and international law, Dokdo belongs to Japan.  It's a pity that Korea wants squatter rights to Dokdo."  In 2005, Simane designated a special day called 'Takesima's Day'.  On July 14 in 2008, the Japanese government announced that ownership of the Dokdo islands would be mentioned in a teaching guide for social studies at junior high schools. 


2. There is misinformation on web-sites and textbooks about Korean territories. 

 In Spanish school text books and world fact books by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Dokdo is considered Japanese.  "There are so many errors; SAT books of world history in America, Oxford history textbook in England, and international popular tour guide books like Lonely Planet and other books in many countries, call the East Sea, the Sea of Japan."  Ms. Im Hyeon-suk working at the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), said. 
According to a VANK's associate, 97% of maps of the world include misinformation about Korea's territories.  If foreign students learned geography through these maps, they will have an incorrect understanding about Korea.  Even international students in Korea do not know about Dokdo and the East Sea.  "We did not learn about Dokdo and the East Sea.  In the Chinese textbooks and maps, there are no Dokdo islands."  a DongGuk University international student from China said. 


3. Korean government does many activities to oppose the actions of the Japanese government.

 The Japanese government is doing a public relations campaign for showing the "Sea of Japan" and "Takesima" on all the maps of the world.  For example, to replace East Sea to Sea of Japan they promoted the use of "Sea of Japan" statement through the internet all over the world.  Recently, the ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology in Japan (MEXT) opened a channel on You-Tube.  Through this channel, MEXT appealed for Japanese ownership of the Dokdo. 
Korean government does many activities to oppose the actions of the Japanese government.  The office of Gyeongsangbuk-do made an agency for guarding Dokdo interests.  The agency named 'Cyber Dokdo', does public relations world wide and is pushing for the designation of Ulngdo as a natural treasure and the construction of an air field on Dokdo.  If these enterprises succeed, Korean people can easily go to Dokdo
"Now, Korea and Japan have disputed the status of Dokdo islands but more and more the Korean government and people are interesting in our territory, Dokdo, so this situation will be better than before." one official of Cyber Dokdo said.  Korean government also announced through Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that the Korean government will deny any claim to sovereignty over our territory and to do this will seek "resolute and calm diplomacy." 


4. In Korea, there are so many Citizens' Organizations doing public relation.

 According to a VANK's associate, it seems that Japanese people do not have much interest in "Dokdo" and "Sea of Japan". But the Japanese government does a lot of public relations promotions all over the world.  So more Japanese are focus on this issue and they believe Dokdo islands are their territory. 
On the other hand, in Korea, there are so many Citizens’ Organizations doing public relation.  One of them, is a representative group called VANK.  They have been conducting the activities to convey accurate information about Korea and have requested the correction of misinformation about Korea on the world web-sites and through textbook publication companies and business industries.  "We are carrying out a variety of activities to introduce valuable information about Korea to foreigners around the world who don't know about Korea, and show a national image of a "Friendly Korea, Friends of the World" in the hearts of the people around the world by promoting international exchange with foreigners and Koreans." said a VANK's associate. 


 Two months ago, when the Dokdo problem was revealed, the Korean government quickly challenged the Japanese government's position but there are opposing opinions.  'Korean government's solutions are just a temporary remedy for Dokdo.', 'Government does not know how we can introduce our priceless islands to the world.' So, to make absolutely clear that Dokdo islands are ours, the government and citizens have to continue public activities steadily.  "Government has to introduce Korea to the world.  Korean people don't have to know about Dokdo, East Sea, our culture, history, foods and so on.  Foreigners who do not know about Korea need to be informed.  Students like you, have to take responsibility for guarding our beautiful calm islands." said an official of VANK. 

KimTae-hyang  kimtaehyang@dongguk.edu

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