The Sea of Japan naming dispute

The Sea of Japan naming dispute

There is a dispute over using the name "Sea of Japan" to refer to the sea bordered by Russia, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea. Although "Sea of Japan", or equivalent translations, are commonly used in international productions, North and South Korea are proposing different names.

North Korea proposes the "East Sea of Korea" [ Efforts of the Government of Japan in Response to the Issue of the Name of the Sea of Japan (1) The 8th UNCSGN] , The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan] and South Korea proposes the "East Sea", [ [ Ministry of Foreign Affiars and Trade. East Sea.] ] or the "Sea of Korea/Korean Sea" [ Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries 2005. The Name East Sea Used for Two Millennia.] ] instead of, or as a name concurrent with, "Sea of Japan".


South Korean groups argue that "East Sea" should be implemented as a historically and geographically appropriate name, claiming that the sea was known as "Sea of Korea/Corea/Joseon" or "East/Oriental Sea" until Japan's militant expansionism. [ [ Welcome to MOMAF ] ] They insist the title "Sea of Japan" was unfairly standardized during Japanese rule of Korea, and thus remains a symbol of Japan's imperialistic past. Korea argues that during the critical period for asserting the name East Sea in the international arena, Korea was militarily occupied by Japan and Koreas sovereignty was less influential and therefore had no diplomatic representation on the global stage. Koreans were forced to surrender the use of their native language under the Japanese rule (1938~), and adopted Japanese names (1940~), while Korean geographical names including the East Sea (Donghae - 동해/東海) were dropped in favour of Japanese ones. Korea's position is that while "Sea of Korea" is actually the more common historical European name, "East Sea," without reference to a specific country, is more neutral. []

Since the 1990s, South Korea has been making efforts to change the official international name referring to the sea. The North Korean government supports South Korea's position, [ [ 【東海表記】南北と周辺国の立場] , Chosun Ilbo (ja), 2002/10/28] but uses "East Sea of Korea" in its English publications instead." [ [ Korea Inside Out: Seas] , The People's Korea, 1998]

Japan protests that the name "Sea of Japan" had internationally established itself as a single name by the early 19th century during a period in which Japan was under the isolation policy (Sakoku). [ Change of the names adopted in the Foreign Maps] , Japan Coast Guard] [
] , MOFA of Japan 2005] Accordingly, they state, Japan could at that time have had no influence on the international community in regards to the naming of the sea. [Japanese Basic Position on the Naming of the "Japan Sea", Japan Coast Guard [] ]

Both sides in the dispute have put forward a number of arguments to support their claim. Some of these arguments are not supported by the respective governments, but rather by nationalist organizationsFact|date=February 2007. Around 2002, the volunteer Korean online organization VANK began an aggressive e-mail campaign (like a cyber spam attack) aimed at webmasters, with some success, but also backlash from supporters of Japan's position. [ [ Naming of the Sea of Japan "dialogue in 23rd UNGEGN" 1. Japan's argument (3)] , The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, March 2006]

Geographical reasons

Japan argues that because the marginal sea is separated by the Japanese Archipelago from the Pacific Ocean, the sea was named Sea of Japan. [ Sea of Japan - A Globally Established Name (Video Clips)] , The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan ] Of the nine other marginal seas, two are named for the marginal feature (see Marginal sea). Korea argues [ [ United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names Working Paper No. 48] , Twentieth Session, New York, 17 - 28 January 2000.] that the adjective “East” describes its geographical position east of the Asian continent, although it is west of Japan and south of Russia; this is analogous to the North Sea, which lies north of the European continent, but west of Scandinavian countries and east of Great Britain.

Historical reasons

South Korea and Japan use selective samples of old European maps to support their claim. South Korea point to maps that show "Sea of Korea" or "East Sea", whereas the Japan point to maps that show "Sea of Japan" to argue that the name was in use before the rise of Japanese imperialism. Many old maps are ambiguous and some even do not include Korea or Japan.

Part of the dispute boils down to the disagreement over when "Sea of Japan" became the "de facto" standard. Japan claims that the term "Sea of Japan" was originally named by Westerners and became the "de facto" standard before Japan gained commercial and political influence over other nations. Japan claims dates in the early 19th century, whereas Korea claims Japan promoted the "Sea of Japan" name in the early 20th century when Korea was colonized by Japan.

Korea's argument for "East Sea" stems from their claim that the term was used in European maps before the 20th century [ [ Search for a Lost Name: the East Sea ] ] . Japan counters by saying "there was no map that used only the name 'East Sea' by itself. [ [ "Sea of Japan"] , The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.] "

South Korea pointed out that a few 19th-century Japanese maps even referred to the sea as the "Sea of Joseon (Korea)", [ [ Even Japan Once Used Sea of Joseon (Korea) Instead of Sea of Japan] , the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of South Korea] including the 1855 Matsuda Ryokuzan's (松田緑山) "Chikyubankoku zenzu" ( _ja. 地球万國全図), and the 1870 "Meiji kaitei bankoku yochibunzu" ( _ja. 明治改訂万國輿地分図). [ [ 北韓問題研究所 資料室] ] Additionally, in several Japanese maps, the Pacific Ocean was called "Dainihon kai" " _ja. 大日本海" (the Great Sea of Japan), and the Korean Peninsula side of the Sea of Japan was called "Chōsen-kai" " _ja. 朝鮮海" (Sea of Korea). [ [ History of the name "Sea of Japan"] , The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2003]


Japanese groups claim [ [ "Japanese Basic Position on the Naming of the 'Japan Sea'", Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department of the Japan Coast Guard, March 1, 2005] ] that the name "East Sea" is not suitable as an international geographic name, because it could refer to various places including the neighbouring East China Sea, [ [ "Fishery Policies"] , Shanghai Fisheries University] and used as compound words such as the East Sea Fleet and the East Sea Bridge. Much of this argument is based on translations of local names into English. Potential confusions are the Chinese local name for the East China Sea, Dōng Hǎi (东海), which can be translated as "East Sea", the Vietnamese local language name for the South China Sea, "Bien Dong", which can be translated as "East Sea", [For example, [ "Vietnamese fishermen victims of East Sea pirates"] , VietNamNet Bridge, 29/06/2006; [ "Tropical storm Bilis gathers steam near Philippines"] , Thanh Nien Daily, July 12, 2006; [ Google News Search: east-sea Vietnam] ] or the Baltic Sea which in many European languages is called the equivalent of "East Sea". [Encyclopedia Americana [ "Baltic Sea, or the East Sea"] ] [Endre Bojtar, "Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People", p. 7, Central European University Press 1999 (ISBN 963-9116-42-4) [] "The Baltic Sea has been called "East Sea" since 1553 (or earlier). The use of "Baltic Sea" occurred no earlier than the end of 18th century."] Additionally, the Timor Sea is called [ Laut Timor] in Indonesian, basically meaning the East Sea, as [ Timor] is a variation on the word for East, [ Timur] .

Historical developments of the dispute

In 1928, "Limits of Oceans and Seas", the first edition of the guideline by the IHB, adopted the "Japan Sea", among many other geographical names. At the time, Korea could not participate because it was under Japanese occupation. Therefore, South Korea insists that the "Sea of Japan" has been used almost exclusively on international maps, although the parties disagree on when and which name was previously prevalent.

In 1957, South Korea joined IHO.Fact|date=February 2007

Since the early 1970's, South Koreans have argued against the "Sea of Japan" name. [The Historical precedent for the "East Sea", VANK [] ]

In 1974, IHO released technical resolution A.4.2.6 independently of this dispute. This resolution is frequently referred to, although it only gives general guidance. It endorses the principle that when the sharing countries of a geographical feature do not agree on a common name, the different names should be recognized simultaneously.

In 1977, the third UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (UNCSGN) adopted resolution III/20 entitled "Names of Features beyond a Single Sovereignty". The resolution recommended:

"when countries sharing a given geographical feature do not agree on a common name, it should be a general rule of cartography that the name used by each of the countries concerned will be accepted. A policy of accepting only one or some of such names while excluding the rest would be inconsistent as well as inexpedient in practice."

In 1986, Draft for the fourth edition of the guideline of IHO, "Limits of Oceans and Seas" (S-23), was completed and the "Sea of Japan" appeared as a sole appellation. South Korea did not raise an objection against the name "Sea of Japan."

In 1992, South Korea raised the issue at the sixth UNCSGN. Japan objected and the issue was not addressed.

In 1995, South Korea deleted "Japan Sea" from its official nautical charts. Before then, South Korea's nautical charts showed both "Japan Sea" and "Tong Hae" (the then used romanization of "Donghae"), out of respect for international conventions.

In 1997, South Korea raised the issue again at the seventh UNCSGN and Japan opposed. The issue was not addressed but the resolution III/20 was recollected, which urges Japan and South Korea to reach a consensus. To date, however, neither country is willing to compromise their position, although Korea suggests that both names be used until the dispute is resolved.

In 2002, South Korea raised the issue again at the eighth UNCSGN. Japan objected again and the issue was not addressed.

In 2002, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) distributed a circular letter asking for a vote for omitting pages containing the Sea of Japan from the fourth edition of "Limits of Oceans and Seas". After Japan's objection, the IHO withdrew the letter.

On April 23 2004, the United Nations affirmed in a written document to the Japanese government that it will continue using the name "Sea of Japan" in its official documents. However, it has agreed to leave the topic open for further discussion. In a letter to South Korea, it was explained that the UN was not determining the validity of either name, but using the currently most widely used term until the parties resolved the disagreement.

In 2006, some members of the National Assembly of South Korea formed a private organization to promote "Sea of Korea" as the international name. [Why the 'Sea of Korea'?, Daum, 2006-1-24 [] ] [한반도 우측 바다는 '일본해', iTimes, 2006-03-28 [] ] [민족정기모임 `동해찾기' 운동 본격화, Yahoo! Korea, 2006-01-22 [] ]

In November 2006, during an APEC summit, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun made a casual suggestion to Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe the possibility of a "name such as 'Sea of Peace'". The prime minister called off the issue for a later time. [Digital Chosunilbo - Roh Proposed New Name for East Sea to Japan [] ] [ [단독] 노 대통령, 일본에 "동해를 '평화의 海'로" 제의 파장 [] ] [Daum 미디어다음 [] ]

Current stance of the international organizations

The United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (UNCSGN) and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) have so far neither accepted nor denied South Korea's claims, but left the issue open to discussion while continuing to use "Sea of Japan". The United Nations confirmed its adoption of "Sea of Japan" in its official documents in March 2004, [The Policy of the United Nations Concerning the Naming of "Sea of Japan", The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, June 2004 [] ] , but also stated that "the practice of the UN Secretariat is to use, in the absence of an internationally agreed standard, the most widespread and generally recognized denomination. This practice is without any prejudice to the position of any Member State of the United Nations on a particular appellation and does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations. The use of an appellation by the Secretariat based on the practice is without prejudice to any negotiations or agreements between the interested parties and should not be interpreted as advocating or endorsing any party’s position, and can in no way be invoked by any party in support of a particular position in the matter." [The Practice of the Secretariat of the United Nations Concerning the Naming of the Sea Area between Korea and Japan, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea [] ]

IHO and UNSCGN resolutions endorse the principle of the simultaneous use of different names when countries sharing a geographical feature do not agree on a common name. [East Sea, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea [] ]

On August 27, 2007, the Ninth Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names elected to retain the title of the body of water as "Sea of Japan". F. J. Ormeling, chair of the session, stated, "I encourage the three countries concerned to find a solution acceptable to all of them, taking into account any relevant solutions, or else to agree to differ and to report the outcome of these discussions to the next conference." [Kyodo News, "Despite Korean efforts, geographic conference backs Sea of Japan name", "The Japan Times", 29 Aug 07, [] ]

Response of media and publishers

Some publishers and media outlets have responded to the dispute by either adopting both names on maps, or—in very rare cases—leaving the area blank, until a consensus can be reached between Japan and Korea.

*In 1997, Rand McNally, one of the largest mapmakers in the United States, adopted a policy of concurrent use of both names, "East Sea" and "Sea of Japan".

*In 1999, the National Geographic Society recognized that the name was legitimately disputed by South Korea. Under its policy (if a geographical feature is shared by more than one nation, and its name is disputed, use the most commonly recognized form of the name first and label the disputed name in parentheses), "Sea of Japan" appears as the primary label and "East Sea" appears below in parentheses. [ [ Maps: Atlas Updates @ ] ]

*Many other publishers have responded similarly, such as The Times (of London), Financial Times, Encyclopedia Britannica, [ [ East Sea - Britannica Online Encyclopedia ] ] Microsoft Encarta, [ [ Search Encarta for East Sea] ] [ [ East Sea] . MSN Encarta.] Columbia Encyclopedia, [] World Book Encyclopedia, [ [ Howstuffworks "Japan, Sea of - Encyclopedia Entry" ] ] American Heritage Dictionary, [ [ Japan, Sea of (East Sea). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 ] ] World Atlas, [ [ sea of japan map and east sea map information page ] ] and, usually including "East Sea" as the secondary label.

*In 2003, the French Defense Ministry issued nautical maps included both terms "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea". [Q&A on the Issue of the Name "Sea of Japan", The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, February 2003 [] ] [Examples of Concurrent Use of The East Sea/Sea of Japan, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea [] ] It set back to "Sea of Japan" as a mono-name in the map issued in 2004. [フランス海軍海洋情報部刊行の海図目録-「日本海」単独標記に-, Japan Coast Guard, 2004-7-13 [] ]

*As of August 2006, the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) continues to advocate the use of "Sea of Japan" without qualification in U.S. government publications. The World Factbook published by the Central Intelligence Agency follows the BGN's guidance. [The World Factbook FAQ: Policies and Procedures: Factbook uses Sea of Japan whereas other publications label it East Sea. What is your policy on naming geographic features?, The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States [] ]

*In 2006, upon receiving protests from people of the two countries, Google put both names on Google Earth, "East Sea" near the Korean coast and "Sea of Japan" on the opposite side. [ [ AsiaMedia :: KOREA: Google asked to identify Korea correctly ] ]

*In the 2007 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, the primary article is called the "Sea of Japan". A secondary article called "East Sea" says 'see Japan, Sea of.' On the map of Japan and other Asia maps "Sea of Japan" appears as the primary label and the "East Sea" appear as a secondary label in parentheses. However, on the map of Korea the name "East Sea" appears as the primary label and "Sea of Japan" appears as a secondary label in parentheses. [ [] ] .

Historical maps and studies

* (SK) In July 2001, Korea produced a report on the names used on maps published in Europe, mostly in the 18th century, possessed by the British Library, claiming that of 90 maps which name the sea, 62 refer to it as "Sea of Korea", 8 as "East Sea", 2 as both "Sea of Korea" and "East Sea", and 10 use "Sea of Japan". [ [ Maps in the British National Library ] ] (Focus of Research: 18th century)

* (SK) In December 2002, South Korea produced a report on the names used on 228 maps published prior to 1800 that are held by the U.S. Library of Congress, claiming that two-thirds of the maps naming the sea used "East Sea", "Sea of Korea", or variants. Of the 103 maps that named the sea, the report claims 66 percent named it "Sea of Korea" and/or "East Sea" or variants. [ [ East Sea Map Study] ] (Focus of Research: 18th century). The authors of this study interpreted maps containing "Oriental Sea" as "variations" of "East Sea."

* (J) In September 2003, Japan produced a report [ MOFA: The Study of maps possessed by the British Library and the University of Cambridge ] ] on the names used on maps published in Europe between 1801 and 1861 possessed by the British Library and the University of Cambridge, claiming that in the British Library, of 37 maps [ [ MOFA: List of maps containing the areas surrounding the Sea of Japan published between 1801 and 1861 in the British Library ] ] containing the areas surrounding the sea, 32 or 86.5% used "Sea of Japan" and 5 used "Sea of Korea". In the University of Cambridge, it found 21 maps [ [ MOFA: List of maps containing the areas surrounding the Sea of Japan published between 1801 and 1861 in the British Library ] ] containing the areas surrounding the sea, of which 18 or 85.7% used "Sea of Japan" and 3 used "Sea of Korea". (Focus of Research: First half of the 19th century)

*(J) In March 2004, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan published a report [ [ <4D6963726F736F667420576F7264202D2089708CEA94C592B28DB88C8B89CA81698F4390B3816A2E646F63> ] ] with the list of maps it investigated [] on the investigation of maps at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The study claims that from the 1,495 maps possessed by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and published between the 16th and 19th century show that of 407 maps for which a name was recorded, 249, or 61% bore the name "Sea of Japan" and 60, or 15% bore the name "Sea of Korea". It found no maps that bore the name "East Sea". Furthermore, the report claims, of the maps published in the first half of the 19th century, 90.0% or 99 maps bore the name "Sea of Japan" and of the maps published in the latter half of the 19th century 100% or 105 maps bore the same name. Japan objects to translating "Oriental Sea" in various European languages as the equivalent of the "East Sea" in English. [ [ MOFA: The Study of maps possessed by the British Library and the University of Cambridge ] ] (Focus of Research: 16th~19th centuries)

*(J) In July 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan published a report [ [ MOFA: Overview of a Study of Maps Possessed by the U.S. Library of Congress ] ] [ English abstract] of the investigation it conducted on the dispute. According to the report, the investigators from Geographical Survey Institute of Japan looked into maps published between 1300 and 1900 U.S. that are held by the Library of Congress and from 1,435 maps [] which mention the disputed sea, 1,110 maps use "Sea of Japan". (Focus of Research: 14th~19th centuries)

*(SK) South Korea's Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries website states that by its count, of 763 historic maps in various government and university libraries worldwide, 440 maps use "Sea of Korea", "East Sea", or variants, and 123 use "Sea of Japan" or variants. [] (retrieved October 2005). This report includes a reference to the 2002 University of Southern California's " [ [ USC Libraries :: Sea of Korea Maps ] ] Sea of Korea maps digital archive", built primarily from a collection geared exclusively to documenting the use of alternate names to this body of water (the David Lee Collection of maps). (Focus of Research: All of Cartographic History)


Matteo Ricci, Beijing (1602). This is the oldest known map that describes the sea as the "Sea of Japan." The name is written in Chinese characters.

ee also

*Japanese-Korean disputes
*Anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea
*Geographical renaming
*Persian Gulf naming dispute


External links

* [ Sea of Japan] &mdash; Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs defends the use of "Sea of Japan".
* [ East Sea: Hot Topic] Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Hot Topic- East Sea
* [ Japan Probe] Defending the 'Sea of Japan' from Korean ultra-nationalist propaganda
* [] ; documentary video on the issue.
* [] A mini-site in support of the Sea of Japan naming.
* [ Nori- East Sea] Korean/English webpage providing information on the naming of the "East Sea," or "Sea of Japan".

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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