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Japanese Foreign Ministry, "Don`t Accept Korea’s Request: East Sea Naming"

Japanese Foreign Ministry, "Don`t Accept Korea’s Request: East Sea Naming"

Posted January. 22, 2005 00:06,   


On January 21, it was discovered that the Japanese Foreign Ministry gave notice to 34 of Japan’s affiliated international airlines to “refuse the Korean government’s request to change the label ‘Sea of Japan’ to the ‘East Sea.’”

The Japanese Foreign Ministry demanded that the catalogs and route guidelines aboard airplanes use only the title, “Sea of Japan.”

This appears to be a countermeasure against the Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation’s notice to airlines in August 2004, requesting that “East Sea” be used.

In the notice, the Japanese Foreign Ministry threatened to “be aware of Japan’s position and act accordingly in case the Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation asks to change the ‘Sea of Japan’ to the ‘East Sea,’” and continued, “We also strongly demand that you use the geographical term, ‘Sea of Japan,’ in the future.”

The notice claimed a 97 percent usage of “Sea of Japan” in world maps in 60 countries worldwide based on research done in 2000 and also cited the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization)’s decision to unify the term to the “Sea of Japan” in August 2004.

The document was dispatched to Delta and Northwest Airlines in the U.S., as well as Air France, China Eastern Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air India, among others. Korean Air and Asiana Airlines also received this notice.

In August 2004, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation requested Korea-affiliated airlines to mark the “East Sea” due to the fact that before Japanese occupation, the “East Sea” term was dominant and that the citizens of Korea were strongly opposed to the “Sea of Japan.”

VANK (www.prkorea.com), a “cyber embassy,” cited additional reasons such as, “Japan’s claim that 97 percent of world maps in 2000 used the ‘Sea of Japan’ is true, but nowadays maps are increasingly using the ‘East Sea.’” It also cites, “On December 26, the American map manufacturing company Jeppesen, which worldwide pilots depend on for flights, declared the usage of the ‘East Sea’ rather than the ‘Sea of Japan.’”

Regarding geographical nomenclature, Mr. Naftali Kadmon, the chairman of the most distinguished international organization, the U.N. Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN), said last year, “I advocate the parallel use of the ‘East Sea’ and the ‘Sea of Japan.’” Prior to this speech, during the 22nd conference of UNGEGN held in April 2004, a “Korean-Japanese bilateral and multilateral solution” was advised.

Hyung-June Park lovesong@donga.com