Friday, February 07, 2014

Yes, Virginia, There Is an East Sea

Is it the "Sea of Japan" or the "East Sea"? In 1992, South Korea and North Korea raised an objection before the Sixth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names regarding the use of "Sea of Japan" to refer to the body of water that lies between Japan and the Korean peninsula. The Korean position is that the term "Sea of Japan" became common only when the Japanese occupied Korea and that the earlier name, "East Sea," is therefore more appropriate. Japan argues that its preferred name actually predates both Japan's occupation of Korea and the common use of "East Sea" to refer to the body of water.

Joining the state's Senate, the Virginia House of Delegates has voted (81-15) to require state-approved textbooks, when referring to the "Sea of Japan," to note also that the body of water is called the "East Sea." Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to sign the bill into law.

The BBC reports that Japanese ambassador to the United States Kenichiro Sasae contacted Governor McAuliffe to warn him that Japan's economic ties to the Commonwealth of Virginia could be damaged by passage of the bill, but McAuliffe seems to have been influenced more by the hundreds of Virginians of Korean descent who descended on Richmond to lobby for it.