A U.S. state legislative committee on Monday passed a bill on naming the waters between Korea and Japan despite Tokyo's lobbying against it.
The bill is one of three pending in the Virginia state legislature calling for local public schools to identifying the waters as the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.
The Education and Health Committee of the Virginia State Senate unanimously approved the bill by voice vote. It was submitted by Dave Marsden, a Democratic senator in Virginia.
Last year, the committee voted down a similar bill drafted by the senator.
Koreans say the name Sea of Japan, which is still more popular in the international community, is a legacy of Japan's imperialistic past.
The other two bills were sponsored by Tim Hugo, a senior Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Richard Black, a Republican member of the state Senate.
"Chances are high that the bills with bipartisan support will be approved this time," said Peter Y. Kim, head of the Voice of Korean Americans, an organization campaigning to publicize the East Sea name.
He voiced concerns about Japan's efforts to block the legislative move, which is supported by the Korean-American community here.
The Japanese Embassy in Washington reportedly hired a U.S. law firm to lobby against the bills, he said. (Yonhap News)