Sunday, Mar 11, 2007, 13:40:35

"Sea of Japan" and "East Sea"

Incredible as it may sound ,the Korean official maps in one geographical location differ from all other maps in the world.

The Sea of Japan is called the East Sea.

Korean historians,scientists,geographers and government officials are now working on a global and universal change of the name Sea of Japan ,a name which 300 years ago was named not by Japan but by all other nations and sea-farers of the world. If Korea would not brainwash their citizens to believe this nonsense it could be dismissed as a sick farce. Lets not do that. Lets play along and look at the renaming "project".




The Sea of Japan is a nearly closed body of water, surrounded by the Asian Continent and the Japanese Archipelago, shared by Japan, Korea and Russia, connecting with the East China Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Sea of Okhotsk through the Korea Strait, La Pérouse (Soya) Strait, the Tatar Strait and the Tsugaru Strait.

The name "Sea of Japan" fits its geographic position. The sea is characterized by the Japanese Archipelago, which divides the body of water from the Pacific Ocean. Without the archipelago, there would be no geographic feature to be named. Koreans, however, claim that the name "Sea of Japan" is wrong and should be changed "back" to the East Sea, the English translation of the Korean name "Dong Hae," although it is located to the west of Japan and to the south of Russia. The first map with western knowledge of geography in China, called "Kun Yu Wan Guo Di Tu", was made by an Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) in 1602. This is considered the first map that denotes the term "Sea of Japan" (Ri Ben Hai). The influence of this map on East Asia was so strong and a lot of copies were made in China and Japan.

Russian admiral Krusenstern made popular the "Sea of Japan" (Japonskoe More) in the West through the publication of his book in 1815. He circumnavigated the glove and published his memoir which translated into several languages including Japanese. And since the 18th century, almost all western maps denotes "Sea of Japan." It should be noted that Japan was closed off to the world until 1854. It is clear that Japan had no need to change the name. There was no practice to name a body of water in large scale in East Asia. So every sea was called nebulously a name after its direction or a country across the sea. For instance, the Sea of Japan was called Hokkai (north sea), Bokkai (Bo sea/Bo Hai sea) or Chosenkai (sea of Chosen.) It is dubious that they were considered geographic names. They were common nouns rather than geographic names.

"East Sea" is the English translation of the Korean name and used only in Korea to refer to the Sea of Japan. What are located to the east of the Asian Continent are not only the Sea of Japan but also the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and these seas are called 'East Sea' by Chinese and Vietnamese respectively.

In China, the East China Sea is referred to as "East Sea" ("Dong Hai" in Mandarin Chinese). The name "Dong Hai" has already registered as "East China Sea (Tung Hai)" in The Limits of Oceans and Seas published by IHO. ("Tung Hai" is another romanized form of Dong Hai) (See: Cross-Reference List of Hydrographic Data )

Vietnamese name of the South China Sea is Bien Dong, which literally means East Sea. (Bien = Sea, Dong = East) They also use "East Sea," the English translation of Bien Dong. For example, the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, "The coast stretches more than 3000 km, along side the East Sea of the Pacific Ocean."

The name of "East Sea" is used not only in East Asia but also in Europe. The Baltic Sea is called "East Sea" in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. By contraries the Estonian name for the Baltic Sea means "West Sea".

In this way, the name "East Sea" does not indicate single place. "East Sea" is used all over the world (see a list of the East Sea.) It is not the Sea of Japan that more than 1.6 billion people call "East Sea"! An official name for a geographic feature is translated into each language. For example, the Japanese name for the Red Sea is "Kokai" (Ko = Red, Kai = Sea), and the Sea of Japan is called "Bien Nhat Ban" in Vietnamese (Bien = Sea, Nhat Ban = Japan). Therefore it is obvious that if the name "East Sea" become official, name collisions will occur in a lot of languages. Se list at

Koreans persist that the name "East Sea" was widely accepted not only in Korea but in China, Japan and Western countries, and that Japan unjustifiably turned it into the Sea of Japan in the 20th century. But in truth, the name "Sea of Japan" was widely used in the 19th century around the world when Japan had not appeared on the international stage yet.How could Japan have deleted what had never existed? Almost no Western map shows the Sea of Japan as "East Sea". Why do Koreans insist that the name "East Sea" was widely used in Western countries?

The total number of the countries and maps studied by the MOFA are 60 countries and 392 maps. Maps that describe the sea area as the "Sea of Japan" or the "Japan Sea" in English, or as the "Sea of Japan" in the local language are 381 maps or (97.2%).

Lets see how this "name- controversy" started :

The Sea of Japan (or the Japan Sea ) is a sea area located along the northeastern part of the Asian continent. It is separated from the North Pacific Ocean by the Japanese Archipelago and Sakhalin.

Historically, the name "Sea of Japan" was first established in Europe from the late 18th century to the early 19th century, and has been used for more than 200 years. When seas are separated from oceans, they have been frequently named after major archipelagos or peninsulas that separate them. The name "Sea of Japan" focuses on one key geographical feature--the Japanese Archipelago that separates this sea area from the Northern Pacific Ocean. In fact, without the presence of the Japanese Archipelago, this sea area would not exist. Because of this obvious geographical characteristic, the name "Sea of Japan" came to be widely accepted throughout the world. At present, more than 97% of the maps used around the world, except for those in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), use only the name "Sea of Japan". This name has been internationally established.

Despite this global recognition, ROK and DPRK suddenly proposed that the name "Sea of Japan" should be changed at the sixth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in 1992. They continue to raise this issue at related international conferences of the United Nations and at meetings of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). They argue that the name "Sea of Japan" became widely used from the beginning of the 20th century, as a result of Japan's expansionism and colonialism. For this reason, they maintain that the name should be changed to the "East Sea," as ROK and DPRK domestically use, or at least, that both the "East Sea" and the "Sea of Japan" should be used together. However, the assertion made by ROK and DPRK is unfounded, and there is neither reasoning nor merit behind the call for such a change.

This pamphlet presents the results of a Japanese government study on how the name "Sea of Japan" is described in the maps available throughout the world, and presents the historical and geopolitical origins of the name. We sincerely hope that this pamphlet provides people around the world with accurate, objective and factual information on the name "Sea of Japan".

It is crystal clear that this whole "Sea of Japan" controversy was started by ROK and DPRK with an obvious lie aiming at discrediting Japan and is a new exercise in trying to manipulate historical facts.

This is a well-known practice in Europe where geographical names were and are changed constantly to serve political objectives and the manipulation of peoples and populations.A taste of this tragicomic naming-renaming exercise:

Tsaricin >Stalingrad>Volgograd ,St Petersburg>Leningrad>St Petersburg ,Pozsony>Pressburg>Bratislava ,Koenigsberg>Kaliningrad ,Danzig>Gdansk ,Byzantium> New Rome (Nova Roma)>Constantinople > Stamboul>Istanbul ,Klausenburg/Kolozsvar>Cluj>Napoca ,Ungvar/Ungvir(jidish)>Uzhhorod ,Erdely>Siebenburgen>Transylvania> ,Yekaterinburg>Sverdlovsk> Ekaterinburg ,Anfa>Dar el Beida>Casablanca ,Serdica>Triaditsa>Sredets>Sofia ,Kisŏng> Hwangsŏng>Rangrang>Sŏgyŏng>Sŏdo> Hogyŏng>Changan>Heijō>Pyongyang.

We could go on and on with documenting this Christian and Soviet-Comunist practice of renaming places for propaganda and domination purposes. If Koreans wants to rewrite their maps we think they should not stop with Sea of Japan. Tokyo was originally called Edo (bay door) so on Korean maps it could be called "Eastern City" or "Bayentrance"and eaven "Seorabeol ". The name Japan (Nippon) itself may sound bad for Korean ears so why not "Eastern Isles" or "Sunrise Isles" and since we are at it Hiroshima and Nagasaki cold be renamed "Sobang" and "Twodong".

Laughable right.

Upon a litle gallow-humour about "Sea of Japan" renaming project , lets get serious , and admit that it is very ,very sad that,adult,educated,government-employed people in the two Koreas would like to draw Japan into this tastless and degrading game ,as well as we feel sorry for the young Koreans that currently are educated in this sinister and ignorant spirit.The immence problems and challenges facing the Korean people on the divided peninsula ,and the gigantic differences in the living standards,social-economic-cultural-educational-spiritual conditions will not at all be helped by the governments trying to brainwash the next generation of Koreans. The re-unification of Germany shows clearly what is coming to Korea and unfortunately to the whole region, since a potential unification of Korea will be far more difficult and costly. Instead of camouflaging the real problems with creating"Sea of Japan" " issues the Korean governments should show genuine and sincere effort to defuse the intolerable end explosive cold-war left-over situation on the peninsula preparing the population for the future trials and challenges.

Japan have been generous with both South Korea (as investor in the 60's) and with DPRK (30% of their GNP from pachinko parlors in Japan);in spite of this the hostile ,anti-japanese public policy has not improved on either side of the DMZ. This attitude may be useful for domestic consumption in Korea but it is lamentable and ridiculus in mature international communities.

by Gabor Fabricius


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