MATSUE - The oldest known photo of the Takeshima islets in Shimane Prefecture was found at a frame store in Matsue, the prefectural government's research group on Takeshima issues has confirmed through research. "It's an important document that shows the original scenery of the islets," a research group member said. The photo was taken in March 1906, about 50 years before South Korea's illegal occupation of the islets in 1954, according to the research group.
The frame shop owner found the photo several years ago as the store had accumulated many pictures taken during and after the Meiji era (1868-1912), according to the group. With that information, the research group was able this month to identify when the photo was taken using historical documents.
The Takeshima islets were annexed to Shimane Prefecture in 1905, and a research team dispatched by the prefectural government visited the islets for research the next year. A surviving memorandum from the research tour provides evidence that a photographer from Matsue who accompanied the team took the photo. Taken from the north side of the islets, it shows a boulder with a hole that has been used as a shelter by fishermen on the left front side. It also shows Higashijima Island further back on the left and Nishijima Island on the right.
The team comprised 45 people including prefectural officers and fishermen catching sea lions, according to records kept by a member of the research tour and other documents. The tour left Matsue by ship on March 22, 1906, and arrived at the islets on the morning of March 27 by way of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture.