A controversial (well, for Japanese and Koreans at least) bill in the Virginia legislature was approved on Thursday, requiring school textbooks to call a body of water between Japan and Korea as both the Sea of Japan and the East Sea. This is a move that is different from the U.S. federal government policy on the issue and has been met with criticism by Japan and the local media.
All the approved bill needs now is the signature of Governor Terry McAuliffe and then by July 1, all the textbooks that will be approved by the local education board will have to include both names for the body of water. But it looks like they will not have any problem with getting that approval as the governor already backed that proposal when he was running for his seat last November. The bill had an 81-15 vote at the lower house assembly on Thursday, after the Senate had previously passed the bill. The state is home to a large number of Korean Americans and it was for them that a group of bipartisan state assembly members had initially proposed the change to the textbook legislation.
During deliberations at the lower house, Japan was rallying its cause that the Sea of Japan is the only recognized international name for the sea and the US Federal government recognizes this as such. They sent over lobbyists and even Japanese ambassador to the US Kenichiro Sasae to meet with the governor to give their side on why they’re protesting the bill. But South Korea has been lobbying for other countries to use the East Sea, as the Sea of Japan is seen as a reminder of the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula. But even The Washington Post has questioned this move, saying “We doubt…that elected officials should be drawing textbook maps or writing lesson plans.”
[ via Global Post ]