Takeshima Day in Japan Date in the current year: February 22, 2024

Takeshima Day in Japan Takeshima Day is observed in the Japanese prefecture of Shimane on February 22. On this day in 1905, Japan claimed its sovereignty the Liancourt Rocks, also known as the islands of Takeshima. Interestingly, they have been controlled by South Korean since the 1950s.

The Liancourt Rocks, called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan. Their Japanese name means “bamboo islands”, and the Korean name means “lonely island” or “solitary island”. The European name derives from the name of the French whaling ship that was nearly wrecked on the rocks in the mid-19th century.

The group consists of two main islets and about 90 surrounding rocks, 35 of which are recognized as permanent land. The main islets are called Ojima and Mejima (Male Island and Female Island) in Japanese, and Seodo and Dongdo (Western Island and Eastern Island) in Korean. As of 2018, they had only one permanent resident, a Korean fisherman.

Sovereignty over the Liancourt Rocks has been disputed by Japan and South Korea for many years. Both countries support their respective claims with references to various historical records, maps, encyclopedias, orders, and treaties that can be interpreted in different ways.

On February 22, 1905, the Japanese government incorporated the Liancourt Rocks as part of Shimane Prefecture, claiming that these uninhabited islands had never been occupied by a foreign country and therefore were to be treated as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) under international law.

In 1910, Japan annexed Korea, so the issue of sovereignty over the islets became irrelevant. The Japanese colonial rule over Korea lasted for 35 years and ended with the defeat of Japan in World War II. When Korea regained its sovereignty, the territorial dispute began all over again.

In the first five drafts of the Treaty of San Francisco between Japan and the Allied Powers, the Liancourt Rocks were referred to as part of Korea. The following drafts, however, described them as part of Japan, and the final version of the document left their status undefined. As a result, South Korea claimed the islets in 1954 and rejected Japan’s proposal to solve the dispute in the International Court of Justice.

The status of the islets remains unclear to this day, since both countries claim their sovereignty over them. Japan treats Takeshima as part of Shimane Prefecture, while South Korea treats Dokdo as part of North Gyeongsang Province. The islands are de facto controlled by South Korea and have a lighthouse, a base housing members of the coast guard, and a helicopter pad.

As of 2018, the Liancourt Rocks had a single civilian resident. Their population also includes government officials, lighthouse managers, and members of the Korea Coast Guard. In 2004, the South Korean government started to let tourists visit the islets. A maximum of 70 tourists are permitted to land at any given time.

The government of Shimane Prefecture established Takeshima Day in 2005 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan’s claim over the islets. Their actions led to protests from South Korea and the cancellation of a number of joint Korean-Japanese cultural projects and initiatives. However, Japan continues to celebrate Takeshima Day.

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Takeshima Day in Japan, holidays in Japan, Liancourt Rocks, Takeshima Islets, Dokdo Islets, territorial dispute