Virginia legislature approves bill on ‘East Sea’ name

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 6, 2014 - 21:02
  • Updated : Mar 6, 2014 - 21:02
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) ― Virginia legislators wrapped up all legislative procedures in both chambers on the “East Sea” bill Wednesday, passing the onus to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Last month, the House and Senate approved bills that require all public schools to name the body of water between Korea and Japan as the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.

Koreans view the name Sea of Japan, which is still better known worldwide, as a relic of Japan’s imperialistic past, including the colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945. They say that “East Sea” is the historically correct name.

The bills, however, ran into unexpected trouble in the process of crossing over to the other chambers.

One bill, HB 11, was automatically killed in the Senate Education Committee as its chairwoman, Sen. L. Louise Lucas (Democrat-Virginia), refused to put it on the table by the legal deadline.

She argued that the Virginia legislature, while listening to the voice of Korean-Americans, has not shown such interest in African-Americans.

But the House passed an identical bill, SB 2, in a 82-16 vote on Wednesday.

The move represents the end of all relevant steps in the state Legislature.

The bill was sent to the governor, who has veto power. He has a month to consider whether to sign it into law or not.

During his campaign, McAuliffe promised to support the campaign by the Korean-American community in the state.

After taking office, however, he has shown a rather lukewarm stance, apparently due to fierce lobbying by the Japanese Embassy in Washington.

Many say it would be difficult for the governor to veto the measure, overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature.

“He has been very clear in his statements that if the legislation passes the General Assembly, he will sign it,” his spokesman, Brian Coy, said earlier in an email to Yonhap News Agency.

If he does so, Virginia will become the first U.S. state to pass a law on the East Sea name,