South Korea on Friday welcomed the passage of a bill in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly that calls for using the Korean name for the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, alongside the currently used Japanese name.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill on Thursday, requiring the use of the Korean name “East Sea” to be added to all new public school textbooks in the U.S. state, along with “Sea of Japan.”
Currently, the Japanese name is used to refer to the body of water, which many Koreans say is a relic of Japan‘s colonialization of the Korean Peninsula in 1910-45.
“Our government welcomes the East Sea naming bill’s passage through a general session of the Virginia House of Delegates in the U.S.,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing.
“The Virginia Assembly‘s move is attributable to efforts to publicize the East Sea name by Koreans residing in the U.S., and our government appreciates their efforts,” Cho said.
The United Nations and other international organizations have adopted proposals to use both names for territory whose name is disputed between foreign countries, the spokesman said.
Given the U.N. proposal, South Korea’s claim to use the Korean name as well as the Japanese name is legitimate and that it was freshly recognized by the Virginia parliament, he said.
The bill needs signature from Gov. Terry McAuliffe before going into force starting July 1. The approval would make Virginia the first U.S. state to adopt such a dual-name policy for the Asian sea.
Cho, meanwhile, dismissed another news report that Seoul is discussing a plan to hold a summit meeting between presidents of South Korea and Japan, saying the report is “groundless.” (Yonhap)