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Ministry caught using ‘Sea of Japan’

The Foreign Ministry came under fire on Friday for failing to change the name “Sea of Japan” to “East Sea” in diplomatic cables and online archives despite years of promoting the latter.

Typing “Sea of Japan” in Korean into the search box of the ministry’s website produces a slew of recent overseas media reports translated by the ministry into Korean.

Also, the website of the Korean Embassy in Tokyo features documents only using the name “Sea of Japan.”

The website of the Korean consulate general in Niigata prefecture in Japan showed 227 search results with “Sea of Japan.”

The Foreign Ministry said it has ordered diplomatic offices in Japan to correct them to “East Sea” immediately.

“The use of ‘Sea of Japan’ on the website of the diplomatic office in Japan came from word-to-word translation of the local media reports. The ministry has ordered the office to correct them to use ‘East Sea,’” the ministry said in a statement.

The Korean government first raised the issue of naming the sea “East Sea” in the international community in 1992.

Seoul has been stepping up diplomatic efforts to persuade the 70-nation International Hydrographic Organization to use both “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” when referring to the water between Korea and Japan since the IHO’s general assembly meeting in April.

Korea claims that the sea was named “Sea of Japan” by the Japanese during their 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea, while Japan argues that the term has been widely used in the international community since the 19th century.

The ministry said it is committed to making incessant efforts to spread the use of “East Sea.”

Korean PR expert Seo Kyoung-duk, best known for running advertisements about Korean sovereignty over the Dokdo islets, claimed by Tokyo, in major U.S. newspapers, criticized the government, saying the Foreign Ministry did not exert enough effort.

“It (East Sea) wasn’t seen in just one case but in many cases, which means this is not a ‘mistake.’ The Foreign Ministry should have taken more care,” Seo told The Korea Herald.

“A majority of overseas media uses ‘Sea of Japan’ and it is urgent that we change this first,” he said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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