The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday on using the name East Sea for the body of water between South Korea and Japan.
The bill, approved 81-15, calls for the Korean-version name to be added to all new public school textbooks in the state.
|Tim Hugo, a senior Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, speaks to the press. (Yonhap News)|
Currently, only the name Sea of Japan is used to identify the stretch of water, apparently a legacy of the country's colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945.
If Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs it into law, the measure will go into effect on July 1. The governor promised not to veto the bill.
Virginia would become the first U.S. state to adopt such a dual-name policy.
The legislation passed the Virginia Senate last month.
The Korean-American community here has long campaigned to publicize the East Sea name.
More than 100,000 ethnic Koreans reside in Virginia, largely in the northern area close to Washington, D.C.
The passage of the East Sea bill in the Virginia General Assembly represents a milestone in the immigration history of Koreans here, said Peter Y. Kim, head of the Voice of Korean Americans.
His group has played a pivotal role in convincing state legislators of the need to teach students about the East Sea.
"It is tantamount to the opening of a new chapter in the immigration history of Koreans," which began in 1903, Kim said. (Yonhap)