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Changing in the Name of the "Japan Sea"

Takehide HISHIYAMA and Masatoshi NAGAOKA


At the 6th United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (1992, New York), the representatives of the Republic of Korea (hereinafter, "the ROK") and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (hereinafter, "the DPRK") made statements that purportedly made clear that the sea area presently named the "Sea of Japan" was formerly known also by such names as the "Sea of Korea" and the "East Sea" and that the appellation "Sea of Japan" came into general use as a consequence of Japan's policies of expansion (aggression). They further insisted that this relic of imperialism must be abolished and that talks be held for the purpose of changing the name. The representatives of these two countries reportedly made similar assertions at the 17th meeting of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (1994, New York) and at several other international conferences and meetings.
       The vast majority of countries worldwide presently call this sea area the "Sea of Japan," while the ROK and DPRK respectively label it the "East Sea" and the "East Sea of Korea." Given that the "Sea of Japan" is enclosed by the Asian continent, the Korean peninsula, and the Japanese archipelago, it is not the least surprising that the body of watar termed the "Sea of Japan" as seen from Japan would be called the "Sea of Korea" by those on the Korean peninsula.
       The authors of this paper have taken the opportunity offered by the presentation of this issue to conduct research on the names given this sea area on maps made in Japan and in other countries to determine when the name "Sea of Japan" came into use and how it has been used to the present day.
       It should go without saying, but the purpose of this paper is neither to argue in favor of or against the present name of "Sea of Japan" nor to determine whether the name is a product of Japan's earlier policy of aggression. It is instead an examination of the historical facts and a compilation of the information available at the moment (1994) to provide basic reference material for any discussions that might arise in future.


1. Introduction
2. Overview of study
3. Study results
4. Summary
Principal books for reference

Provisional translation, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, of;

Hishiyama and Nagaoka,"Nihonkai kosyou no hensen ni tsuite"[Changing in the Name of the "Japan Sea"],Chizu kanribu gijyutsu houkoku No.1(Kokudochiriin Gijyutsu Shiryou EE3-No.1)[Technical Report of Map Management Department No.1(Technical Report of Geographical Survey Institute of Japan EE3-No.1)]p.16-25,1994,Geographical Survey Institute, Japan.

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