By Noh Yang-keun
Tokyo claimed its sovereignty over the Dokdo islets again in its 2012 defense white paper released last month.
The Japanese government reiterates its false allegations every year through the annual approval of distorted history textbooks as well as the issuance of a diplomatic blue paper and a defense white paper.
Such false allegations have imbued many Japanese people with distorted views of the two countries' history, including Nobuyuki Suzuki, a Japanese right-wing activist who placed a stake on the statue of a ``comfort woman" in front of the Japanese embassy on June 19, which had a written claim that the Dokdo islets are part of Japan. In a video that Suzuki had taken while attaching the stake, the 47-year-old demanded the statue be removed. His act once again awakened us to the importance of sincerity in the relations between countries.
Dokdo continues to be an integral part of Korean territory, which is an indisputable fact, fully established by the historical records of both Korea and Japan. There are a number of historical descriptions and documents that show Dokdo is part of Korea, including “Samguksagi,” a history book covering the then three kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula published during the period of 57 B.C-935.
The 1877 Dajokan edict and the announcement in 1900 by Emperor Gojong of the Korean Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) as well as the directive signed by General Douglas Macarthur shortly after Japan's surrender in 1945 are also among them.
In particular, the 1877 document from Japan's central Dajokan council proves conclusively that Japan itself acknowledged Korea's ownership of Dokdo. The official decree came from Dajokan, Japan's Great Council of State which had been the central governing body until Japan adopted a Cabinet system. This council issued an official edict in 1877 which stated that Ulleung Island and the other islands next to it are not related to Japan and that Japanese are to stay away from them.
The most important evidence against the Japanese claims on Dokdo is old Japanese maps and documents showing Ulleung Island and Dokdo as part of Joseon. In the maps published in 1648 and 1702, during the Tokugawa Shogunate period, Ulleung Island and Dokdo (Takeshima) were not shown.
Dokdo is a symbol of Japan's imperialistic aggression during the 20th century. The Japanese navy defeated Russian forces off Dokdo in 1904, setting the stage for colonizing the Korean Peninsula for 35 years until the end of World War II. The first Korea-Japan treaty signed on Aug. 22, 1904 forced Korea to surrender all diplomatic rights to Japan. During the period of 1905-1945, Dokdo and the entire Korean Peninsula were under effective Japanese occupation.
When Korea regained independence in 1945, naturally Dokdo was returned to it. Japan claimed its sovereignty over the Dokdo islets stealthily in a newsletter from the Shimane Prefecture on Feb. 22, 1905. It is still vivid in our memory that the Shimane prefectural council proclaimed ``Takeshima Day" on March 16, 2005, disregarding the strong protests of the Korean people.
More than 200,000 comfort women mostly from Korea, China and other Asian countries suffered gang rape, forced abortions and other humiliations under Japan's colonial and wartime occupation of Asia from the 1930s through the duration of World War II. The U.S House of Representatives, the European Parliament and the Netherlands and Canadian Lower Houses all adopted resolutions in 2007, calling on Japan to formally acknowledge and apologize to tens of thousands of comfort women.
However, Japan turned a deaf ear to their calls, saying there is no evidence that its military was involved in recruiting the comfort women. But Yoshimi, a professor at Tokyo's Chuo University stumbled upon a document in the 1980s that showed the military issued orders to set up brothels for frontline troops, which disclosed the lies of the Japanese government.
Japan has repeatedly apologies for its forced annexation and 35-year colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula on every occasion, including the one made on the centenary of the annexation. How long will the repetition of this apology continue? Germany made a candid apology over its wartime atrocity once and for all. Victimized countries no longer expect anything more from Germany.
Tokyo's claim to the Dokdo islets clearly shows that the apologies so far made by Japanese leaders were none other than lip service. Japan should give up its reckless efforts to gloss over its wartime atrocities and stop distorting the two countries' shared history in school textbooks.
Japanese leaders should also realize that a future-oriented new era aiming at co-prosperity between our two countries will never come unless they stop reiterating their false allegations.
The writer is a resident of Gangnam, Seoul. His address is firstname.lastname@example.org.