Korean Consulate General Cites Recent Support For Concurrent Use of Names “EAST SEA” and “SEA OF JAPAN”

Share Article

Growing support is evident for the concurrent usage of both “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” to refer to the body of water located between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago

Korea is pleased that the IHO remains open to the possibility of concurrent names for the East Sea/Sea of Japan and that the international community is becoming more aware of Korea’s position.

Growing support for the concurrent usage of both “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” to refer to the body of water located between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago is noted by the Republic of Korea’s Consulate General in New York. When dealing with matters of diplomacy, a name reflects how a country is viewed and Korea is urging the global community to acknowledge the “East Sea” name, reflecting 2,000 years of usage. Examples of increased support for this position are: a vox populi petition to the White House; a vote at an international organization’s conference; and letters to the conference organizer and to the US Board on Geographic Names by two US Congressmen from New Jersey urging the additional use of “East Sea”.

Over 100,000 private individuals have signed a petition, begun March 22, 2012, on the White House website asking the US government to use the name “East Sea” as well as the “Sea of Japan” when referring to that body of water over which both Japan and Korea have jurisdiction. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/petitions, search for “East Sea”.) This amount of support has made the East Sea petition one of the most popular posted to the White House site since its September 2011 launch. The site states that petitions that meet the signature threshold of 25,000 will be reviewed by the Administration, which will issue a response.

An opportunity to redress this issue has also presented itself with the just-concluded conference of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the authoritative worldwide body engaging coastal States in maritime safety and efficiency. In its Limits of Oceans and Seas first printed in 1929, the IHO has called this body of water the “Japan Sea”, per Japan’s wishes. Since Korea was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and subsequently engaged in the Korean War it had limited opportunities to engage the international community on this issue. Per the general rule of international cartography, if bordering countries can’t agree both names should be used concurrently. Representative Steven R. Rothman of New Jersey’s 9th District, wrote to the IHO urging that body to include the name “East Sea” in its future documents. Although the 80 member states did not conclusively resolve the issue for concurrent use of both names at the recent IHC, no member state except Japan voted to support Japan’s proposal based on the sole use of "Japan Sea" in the IHO.

Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. of New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District, sent a letter to the United States Board on Geographic Names asking that it reexamine its designation of just one name and use “‘East Sea’ [which] has been used in reference to the body of water in question for centuries both in conjunction with and independent of the term ‘Sea of Japan’.”

Korea is pleased that the IHO remains open to the possibility of concurrent names for the East Sea/Sea of Japan and that the international community is becoming more aware of Korea’s position. The Consulate General is urging more publishers and cartographers to use the two names simultaneously and it is looking to the US government to help resolve this issue to the satisfaction of its Korean ally, major trading partner, and friend.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Elaine Mancini

914.948.4264
Email >
Visit website