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IHO leans toward marking East Sea simply in numbers

Posted November. 17, 2020 07:43,   

Updated November. 17, 2020 07:43


It has been reported that the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), which is currently revising its official marine charts, is leaning towards marking the East Sea in just numbers, instead of using its previous name of the Sea of Japan. As the marine charts provide the official standards for countries around the world to name seas, the basis of Japan’s argument to mark the sea only as the Sea of Japan will be lost and a new chapter will open in the diplomatic argument on how to mark the East Sea, which has been waged by the South Korean government in the international community.

IHO Secretary-General Mathias Jonas announced that S-130, a revised version of S-23 “Limits of Oceans and Seas” serving as the guide for marine chart production, will be published during the second IHO general assembly held on Tuesday and Wednesday with attendance of over 90 IHO member countries. The revision proposes that seas, including the East Sea, should be marked in universal numerical identifiers, instead of their names.

The two Koreas, Japan, the U.S., and the U.K. have reached an agreement on marking the East Sea in its universal numerical identifier through an unofficial consultative body formed among relevant countries in April last year. As the IHO requested South Korea and Japan to resolve the issue of how to mark the East Sea as part of the organization’s process to digitize its printed marine charts, South Korea, which has called for marking it the East Sea, and Japan, which has insisted on marking it the Sea of Japan, each took a step back. “Once the new plan is adopted, the South Korean government should focus on diplomacy with the U.S. and the U.N., which have been solely using the name of the Sea of Japan,” said a diplomatic source.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com