News / Asia

    Korea, Japan Await Virginia Vote Over Name of Sea

    Reuters
    Another round in the rivalry between two of America's closest allies will play out far from their shores on Thursday when the state of Virginia decides on a bill requiring the Korean name for the Sea of Japan to be included in new school textbooks.

    Virginia's Senate has already approved the two-line bill requiring “that all text books approved by the Board of Education... when referring to the Sea of Japan, shall note that it is also referred to as the East Sea.”

    An affirmative vote in the House of Delegates would be a significant victory for campaigners among Virginia's estimated 82,000 Korean-Americans and the South Korean government more than 7,000 miles (11,000 km) away.

    The bill would still require approval by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who spoke in favor of the Korean view during his election campaign last year.

    Thursday's vote follows intense lobbying not only by Korean-Americans but the governments of South Korea and Japan over the name for the sea that separates their countries.

    Japan's campaign has included warnings that Japanese investment in Virginia could be hurt by a negative outcome, while Japanese officials have voiced worries that what they call a “test case” could spark similar campaigns elsewhere.

    Relations are already frayed between Seoul and Tokyo after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a shrine to former military leaders that South Korea said showed a lack of contrition for Japan's imperialist past.

    The name “Sea of Japan” is widely accepted outside of Korea. But it is a source of bitterness for Koreans that the usage became standard worldwide while Korea was under Japanese colonial rule, after the International Hydrographic Organization, or IHO, published its definitive “Limits of the Oceans and the Seas” in 1929.

    Japan argues that “Sea of Japan” is recognized by the United Nations and most big states, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany and China. A long Korean campaign has failed to gain much traction.

    “Toponymic dichotomy”

    The Monaco-based IHO did not respond for a request for comment, but the National Geographic Society in Washington said it began including “East Sea” in parentheses after the Sea of Japan in its maps in 1999 in response to growing international use of the term.

    “In the absence of an international agreement, we feel a need to inform our readers of this toponymic dichotomy,” spokeswoman Kelsey Flora said in a statement.

    The Washington Post reported that Japan's ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasae, wrote to McAuliffe late last year urging him to oppose the bill or risk damaging the strong economic relationship between Japan and Virginia.

    While only a 19,000 ethnic Japanese live in Virginia, Sasae pointed out that Japan was the Southern state's second-largest foreign investor, injecting almost $1 billion in the past five years. He said Japanese firms employed about 13,000 people there.

    “I fear... the positive cooperation and the strong economic ties between Japan and Virginia may be damaged if the bills are to be enacted,” the Post quoted the letter as saying.

    South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported this month that  Japan's Embassy agreed to pay the McGuireWoods consulting firm at least $75,000 to lobby on its behalf.

    The main sponsor of the bill, Democratic state Senator David Marsden, reported receiving $7,600 last year from South Korea's Foreign Ministry for a trip to Seoul, according to Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit tracker of money in Virginia politics.

    Marsden is a lawmaker from Fairfax County, which has a sizeable Korean-American population. He told Watchdog.org that he hoped the bill would send a “welcoming message.” McGuireWoods confirmed it was lobbying on behalf of the Japanese Embassy on the issue. The embassy declined comment.

    Peter Kim, head of the Voice of Korean Americans group, said Japanese colonial rule was in the past.

    “We don't care about that. We just care about Korean heritage, Korean history. Fathers and mothers of Korean Americans strongly feel that the name 'East Sea' ought to be taught in school,” he said.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora