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A historical analysis of changes in the representation of islands in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) in nautical charts during the late of 19th centuries and early 20th centuries

Topics: Historical Geography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the central area of the East Sea (Sea of Japan), there are two islands, Ulleungdo, and Dokdo. However, in the chart of no. 2347 of the year of 1855 made by the British Hydrographic Office, there were five islands in the area of the East Sea. Among five island, three islands - Fanlingtao, Tchanchantao, and Argonaut - were erased in 1861 and in 1876, and two islands were renamed from Dagelet and Liancourt Rocks to Matsushima and Takeshima during the late 19th century and early 20th century. This presenter unveils how and why three islands were erased, and two islands renamed on the British and Japanese charts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As the outcome of this research reveals, the Meiji government modernized their nautical charts by copying the British charts of the East Asia. These Japanese modern charts of the seas of the East Asia represents the Japanese Meiji government’s cutting off from the Japanese traditional geographical knowledge and embracing of the Western geographical knowledge. The cases of the representation of islands in the middle of the East Sea are typical cases. As a result, the Japanese government formalized the name change of Ulleungdo from Takeshima to Matsushima, and the name of Dokdo from Matsushima to Liancourt Rocks and to Takeshima.

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