Japan’s Navy ‘Incorporates’ Dokdo Takeshima into War Strategy

Dokdo and The Wartime Diary of Japan’s Second Fleet – November 1904
What was Confidential Directive #698? (機密第六九八號)
It becomes apparent when reading this Dokdo related database that much content is related to Imperial Japan’s Navy. We’ve focused on the months preceding Japan’s annexation of Dokdo in February of 1905. The content is a deep read and somewhat disorganized because historical these records were not discovered in any particular order.

I came across these records by working backwards from the Logbooks of the Warship Tsushima. On November 13th the Tsushima was issued Confidential Directives #689 and #275. Later on I would find the origin of these commands in the Diary of Japan’s Second Fleet. This makes sense because the Second Fleet commanded by Vice Admirals Kamimura and Uryu were responsible from patrolling the Sea of Japan (East Sea) which of course included Ulleungdo and Dokdo (Liancourt Rocks)

The translation was quite difficult and I’m sure there are some mistakes. However, I’ve gleaned a lot of great data from these records. Of interest are the details of Confidential Directive #698 involving the Warship Tsushima’s inspection of Liancourt Rocks.

Excepts From November 1904 Wartime Diary of Japan’s Second Fleet

Document Number (Cover) # 1972, Japan’s National Archives 2nd Fleet Diary
File Number – – – – 4900
明治三十七年 自 十月一日 至 十二月廿一日
戰時日誌付録 第二艦隊司令部

October 1-December 21, Meiji 37
List of wartime dates
2nd Fleet Headquarters

Document Number # 2003, Japan’s National Archives 2nd Fleet Diary
File Number – – – – 4900
瓜生第二艦隊司令官ニ訓令 丗七年十一月十三日午前八時 於尾崎湾旗艦出雲
ニ.哨艦監視法ヲ左ノ如ク改メ明後十五日ヨリ施行セシム貴官ハ之ニ関スル細則ヲ規宣シ寛施ノ 任ニ當ルベシ
地点附近トシソレヨリ約十節ノ速力ニテ Aハ東、Bハ西水道ヲ通過シテ南下シ日没頃ヨリ引返シ連続同運動ヲ繰返シ浦汐艦隊及密航船舶 監視ニ任ス

Second Fleet Confidential No. 698
Instruction to Commander Uryu, 2nd Fleet, 8:00 a.m., November 13, 1904, at Nagasaki Bay, Flagship Izumo
I. You are to dispatch the warships under your command to perform the following duties:
1. To conduct a secret communication test for radio communication at Mt. Takasaki (Oki Island) and to send the right officer to the same location.
2. Inspection of Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)
3. To dispatch officials to Matsushima (Ulleungdo) and Takehama (Jukbyeon, Korea) Watchtower
The date of dispatch is to be specified separately.
D. Revision of the Patrol Vessel Surveillance Law The Patrol Vessel Surveillance Law shall be revised as follows and shall come into effect on the fifteenth day of the following month.
The AB patrol vessels shall be stationed daily in the vicinity of the following points: A: 444, B: 41.
A will pass through the East Channel and B through the West Channel at a speed of about 10 knots, and then head south, turning back around sunset and continuously repeating the same movement to monitor the Urasio Fleet and stowaway vessels.

Japan’s National Archives 2nd Fleet Diary – File # ——4400

Document Number # 1752



We have decided to start repair work on the Asahi Takasago at Kure Military Port and the Akitsushu at Sasebo Military Port, and for this purpose, one ship from each fleet in your area will be sent for repair, and there is no problem.

(1:30 a.m. on the 9th). (Departing Dalny at 1:20 a.m. on the 9th and arriving at 5:00 a.m. on the 9th)

The wireless telegraph stations on both sides of the Korean Straits are inconvenient to supervise, and as a result, when the enemy fleet appears, there is confusion over the transmission lines, and it appears that communication is slow, etc. As the arrival of the Japanese fleet in the Straits is now known, the communication system at the watchtower wireless telegraph stations on land and sea telegraph lines in the Straits should be further clarified and officers should be assigned to important communication contacts, in order to speed up communication and communication. It is most necessary to speed up communication and communication.

Document Number # 1753


In view of your previous experience in the area of the Straits, you are requested to come up with a plan which you consider most appropriate and submit it directly to the Headquarters.

In response to the first report to the right, the ships of the 2nd Squadron (in the area) do not recognize the need for emergency repairs, and in view of the current war situation, it would be appropriate to kill one ship in the area and send it to the Yellow Sea to increase the number of ships requiring emergency repairs in that area.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet is hereby informed of the following opinion
“Please send a message to the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet that repairs should be started on one ship in each fleet…

Document Number # 1756


Opinion on communications in the Straits of Korea and the western Sea of Japan.

1.We have established communications agencies at Matsushima (Ulleung Island -Korea ), Jukbin Bay, (Jukbyeon – Korea) and other points in the Korean Strait. We believe that all communications in this direction are reliable and will be sufficient to keep us informed of the situation. However, in view of future operations, we believe that it will be necessary to tighten our vigilance in this direction. Therefore, we would like to make the following suggestions…

1-1. In order to make communication with the fleet in this direction more prompt and certain, one liaison officer shall be posted at the junction of the telegraph lines to receive and transmit the various communications of the fleet quickly.

Document Number # 1757

From this point forward, that position should always move with the fleet, just as the base at Takeshi was moved to Jinhae Harbor.

2. One officer is to be stationed at each of the temporary lookouts and the Matsushima (Ulleungdo-Korea) lookout (one east and one west) that have wireless communication capability, to serve as liaison officer for paragraph 1.
3. Establish a new watchtower on Liancourt Island (Dokdo) to communicate with Matsushima (Ulleungdo-Korea) via submarine telegraph.

According to the stories of the fishermen in Matsushima, (Ulleungdo – Korea) the water between the two islands (on Dokdo) divided into east and west is deep enough for ships to pass, suitable for anchoring, and there is a clear spring within the island, and the island is large enough to support a watchtower.

Document Number # 1758


4. quickly create a meteorological communication organization that covers each island in southern Korea
5. Establish new radio stations on Ousezaki and Jeju Island (or Geomun Island).
However, the Geojedo radio station is currently not needed, so it can be moved to another location.
6. Extend the coastal telegraph line to quickly send communications to ships temporarily anchored in Yuya Bay and Tamanoura.
7. Install an institutional wire buoy in the direction of Jeju Island, where the fleet in Jinhae Bay is anchored, to secure communication lines.
8. communicate with the sentry ships to watch north of Okinoshima…

Document Number # 1759


To establish a radio telegraph office on Mishima to ensure speed and reliability.
The items to the right are arranged in order of necessity.
Telegram from the Deputy Chief of the Military Command

Telegram from Consul Odagiri of Shanghai dated the 9th, stating that the steamer “Rodosen” is leaving port at noon today.
In accordance with the report to the left from Mitsui & Co. in Hong Kong, the steamer Wilhelmina is leaving for Astoria and the steamer Salgordia is leaving for Hong Kong on October 13th.
In accordance with the above, I have ordered Commander Uryu Takeshiki to increase the number of patrol vessels and to keep a close watch on them. 

Document Number # 1760
午后一時十五分 松島西望楼ヨリノ報告
聯合艦隊司令長官ヨリノ電報(午后八時廿分ダルテ発 午后十時着)

Also, the fleet in the DE patrol area is ordered to be on full alert.
Commander Uryu adds one more E patrol ship (Tenmei at 466) to the fleet and orders Kasagi to be in position for both the 10th and 11th, and the AB patrol ships Tenmei and Tenmei to be at 497 and 410.
Report from Matsushima (Ulleung Island Korea) West Watchtower at 1:15 p.m.
“At 6:40 a.m. a steamer with a red light was found about 10 nautical miles offshore to the northwest and was lost to the southwest.”

A telegram was sent to Commander Uryu and the patrol vessel Naniwa Takachiho.
“At 7:00 P.M. on the 9th, a report from the west watchtower of Matsushima (Ulleung Island – Korea) indicates that a steamer is heading south 10 nautical miles west of the island, and that the patrol ships must find it tomorrow morning.”
Telegram from the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet (departing at 8:20 in the afternoon and arriving at 10:00 in the afternoon).

Document Number # 1778
午后三時 對馬哨區ヨリ入港


Arrival at 3:00 p.m. from Tsushima watch station
Telegram from the Captain of the Hong Kong Maru
“After analyzing the damaged part of the steering wheel, we need 9 days.
Expected to be completed on the 20th, etc.”
Pursuant to Second Fleet Confidential Directive # No. 698, Commander Uryu is instructed as follows.
Order 1. Send the above officer to the first ship of the line to test the radio transmissions at Mt. Takazaki. Inspection of Liancourt Island (Dokdo)

To change the position of the watchtowers on Matsushima (Ulleung Island – Korea) and Jukbin (Jukbyeon – Korea).
2. Change the position of the AB sentry ship.
3. Dispatch your Majesty’s 1st ship to Sasebo and Nagasaki alternately…

File # ——4500 Japan’s National Archives 2nd Fleet Diary

Document Number # 1786

十一月十八日 尾嵜 晴 南西風力一ーニ 六十四度~四十七度
午后一時廿分 春日丸哨区ニ向ヒ出港仝四時廿五分千早哨区ヨリ入港ス



Nov. 18 Ozaki Sunny Southwest winds 1-2 64° to 47°F
Departed Kasugamaru watch station at 1:20 p.m. Arrived at 4:25 a.m. from Chihaya watch area.
2:30 p.m. departed Kasaoki temporary C watch area (vessel to watch: Dolce *sailed from Kyoju (Qingdao, China) Bay)
Departed Tsushima at 5:35 p.m.
The above is Confidential Directive No. 698 of the 13th. Based on instructions to Commander Uryu.
The behavior of the fleet was as follows.
On the morning of the 19th, Jukbyeon (Korea) arrived at Matsushima (Ulleung Island Korea) the same evening; arrived at Liancourt (Dokdo) on the morning of the 20th. Arrival in Oki on the morning of the 21st.

Communicated with *Seosu-do (the sea west of Daemado in the Korea Strait) this month by putting it in watch boat No. 70 during reconnaissance. Left it at Uljaki Lighthouse (Ulsan) due to communication costs.

Document Number # 1808

午后四時三十分 六十九号艇鎮海湾ヨリ入港七十号艇ハ発射水雷沈没捜索ノ為メ尚峡地ニ残シリ【六十九号鎮海湾ヨリ入港】

十一月廿四日 尾嵜 午前 晴 午后 雲 北風九一 五十八度~四十九度
午前十時對馬入港 仝艦長ヨリ リアンゴルド島視察報告

At 4:30 a.m., the 69th ship arrived from the Jinhae coast. The No. 70 remains at the scene to search for the sinking of the fired mines.【No. 69 arrives from the Jinhae coast】.
Assigned Kasugamaru and the two camouflage vessels under her command for the operation of Classified Directive 715 No. 2, and ordered them to carry out repairs and torpedo launcher equipment while sailing back to Sasebo for their convenience.
Shin Umaru and Kaijo Maru to return to Sasebo at 5 p.m. in accordance with the above.
Telegram from Commander-in-Chief, Allied Fleet (8:55 p.m. from Darni)
“Please advise me why Yuuri should be returned to Sasebo for repairs.”
Nov. 24 Ozaki Morning clear, afternoon cloudy North Wind 1 58 degrees to 49 degrees.
10:00 a.m. Arrived in port at Tsushima. Captain Dong reports on his inspection of Liancourt Island.
“In order to inspect Liancourt Island, I was accompanied by Lieutenant Yamada, the commander, the ship’s engineer, and others. Attached here to follow.

Document Number # 1809

…報告ニ記載サレルノ如、十分ナル土木工事及設備ヲナスニ拒レバ到底電信設備ニ適セザルニ以テコノ要衛ナル地点ハ下遺憾放棄スルノ巳ヲ得ザルモノト認定セラレ候余別紙報告書ニ通相添此文及報告候也(十一月 廿四日)

Acknowledging that, as stated in the report, without sufficient civil works and foundations being laid, the site is utterly unsuitable for telecommunications, and that this important point is very regrettable but cannot be neglected. I have attached two separate reports, which I hereby report in full and in writing.

The contents of the two reports, briefly summarized, are as follows
1. the proposed location of the watchtower would be suitable for its intended purpose if the mountain face east of the west island, or the flat land southwest of the summit of the east island, were levelled and embanked, but such work would be necessary. Also, the island is not suitable for viewing.
2. there is no potable water.

Reported to the commander-in-chief in accordance with the above as follows.

Document Number # 1810



The “Opinion of the Second Squadron regarding the communication facilities in the vicinity of the Chosun Straits was reported with Confidential Report No. 691, and the third item regarding Liancourt rocks (Dokdo) was also reported with a report from the captain, who stated that it is not expected to be able to install the watchtower if major work is not carried out.

At 1:55 p.m. the vessel departed for Kasagi Sentinel and at 2:00 p.m. arrived at Chihaya Sentinel.
At one time in the afternoon, the Koukoumaru left Sasebo for the current location of the First Fleet
(Yesterday, the ship was not able to depart due to a malfunction of the ship’s school.)
Captain Tokiwa Kure received a telegram stating that repairs would be completed on December 10.
Today, with the captain of the Kasuga Maru as the chairman, a test study of a series of sinking submerged mines will be conducted.

Confidential File #9
Hidden away in JACAR’s Historical Archives, I happened upon two files simply titled ‘Confidential Files’ Number 9 and 10. Other than that there was no other description of what these records contained. Reading closely it became clear it was similar to Japan’s Navy Second Fleet plan for the control over the Chosun Strait (Sea of Japan). Contained in the latter records was the survey results of Liancourt by the Warship Tsushima. This report was also sent to the Director of the Hydrographic Department who was instrumental in guiding Japanese citizen Nakai Yozuburo’s application to ‘incorporate’ Dokdo.

Confidential File #10