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Matt Rosenberg

East Sea or Sea of Japan?

By October 7, 2007

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It's been more than six years since a extensive South Korean campaign began to get geographers and cartographers to change the name of the Sea of Japan to the East Sea in deference to Korean sensibilities. They're still at it and I continue to receive their email. Do you think cartography should be swayed by popular uprisings and change based on a campaign of this nature? Do you think maps should be printed with Sea of Japan and East Sea at the same location or should one be chosen? Share your thoughts by clicking "comments" below...


October 7, 2007 at 12:39 am
(1) michael says:

It should be sea of japan

October 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm
(2) Abestar says:

Why don’t they just ask to call it the Korean Sea? Thats what they want anyway.

Seriously though historically and internationally its called the Sea of Japan and Japan was actually an independent nation when these areas where becoming well known and named, I say no to changing it just to make them feel better.

Let them call it East Sea in Korea and Sea of Japan everywhere else and tell them to stop trying to push their ideas and revisions of the world on us.

This is just like them trying to get everyone to spell Korea with a C and not a K so it comes before Japan in a list. Just sad little nit picking, get a life Koreans.

October 3, 2011 at 12:43 am
(3) anna says:

First of all, The C and K thing? yeah when japan attacked Corea and tried to take over their land they changed it so THEY would come before Corea. Corea is the way it has always been spelt. check your facts.

October 8, 2007 at 12:26 am
(4) Lee Durham Stone says:

I’m starting a letter-writing campaign with students in my A.P. Human Geography and World Geography classes at Ocean Springs [MS] High to persuade National Geo, Nystrom, Hammond, Rand McNally, and the other map and atlas publishers to change the toponym “Gulf of Mexico” to “Sea of Mississippi,” since it is actually a sea as much as the Caribbean Sea and others and it washes the shores of our great State; plus there is a great river of the same name.

Just joking!

I understand that countries might desire toponymic changes to reflect their own countries–such as Indonesia already labeling the ocean west of it the “Indonesian Ocean,” and the countries on the eastern shore of the Arabian peninsula pushing to name the adjacent sea “The Gulf”–but the cartographic confusion would be considerable. For example, could Kentucky justify renaming the Ohio River? After all, it possesses it within its territory.
All international toponyms outside the jurisdiction of individual countries would have to be negotiated, with neutral names triumphing. Or, would there be increasing international tension as a result of nationalistic interest in “toponyming?” Wouldn’t Scandinavian countries want to rename the Baltic Sea the “Scandinavian Sea?”

As the world globalizes, there will be more desires to reflect the local, including the nation.

October 8, 2007 at 12:47 am
(5) The Seagull says:

Sea of Japan has been accepted for over a century- it would be awfully hard to change it all!

And japan does have a longer coastline with the sea than Russia or both koreas.

October 8, 2007 at 9:04 am
(6) smroste@meltel.net says:

I want Lake Superior changed to Lake Minnesota.

October 8, 2007 at 9:44 am
(7) Jed says:

I was unhappy when the former Zaire tried to rename the Congo River and I feel the same about this proposed change. Leave the name as is.

October 8, 2007 at 11:17 am
(8) Sharon says:

What else can Korea dream up? Don’t they have anything else to worry about?

October 8, 2007 at 12:12 pm
(9) HJ says:

The whole thing is rediculous, and only mapmakers will benefit from it.

October 8, 2007 at 1:05 pm
(10) Nick M says:

I think I’m the only one saying that its a good idea to change it. “East Sea” is neutral which makes sense, since it is neutral territory. “Sea of Japan” implies ownership. The above comments which seem to imply that they really want “Korean Sea” or something of the sort are simply mistaken. Accuracy and clarity are rules for all cartographers.

October 8, 2007 at 1:31 pm
(11) ean sheehy says:

I agree completely with Nick M. East Sea is a reasonable and neutral designation. I would also remind everyone that there will be centuries of changes to come as the ingrained culture of colonialism washes away. Better get used to it, and stay loose! Reflexive clutching at status quos is a losing battle.

October 8, 2007 at 2:15 pm
(12) Abestar says:

I’m sorry but are the last two people fricking stupid? Have you even looked where that body of water is on a map? Its East of Korea and nothing else. Naming it the East Sea would make no since for people in Japan or Russia since it is west and south of those countries. So tell me how would that name be neutral when it only makes sense for that one country? Did you people take the counterpoint just for the hell of it?

October 8, 2007 at 2:18 pm
(13) Steve K, Austin Colorado says:

Leave it as is, the other just yields to political correctness

October 8, 2007 at 5:26 pm
(14) Joan Pederson says:

At Nystrom we decided to check the veracity of the underlying claim that “East Sea” has been in use for a very long time. We looked at maps dating back to the Age of Exploration, found that many European cartographers from the times of early European voyages to eastern Asia indeed used “East Sea” for that body of water while others used “Sea of Japan” (or the equivalents of those names in other European languages), and decided that the request had merit for maps printed in European languages. We continue to show “Sea of Japan” as the principal name because that’s the one in more widespread use, but (“East Sea”) appears immediately after or below it. No one seems to be dumping maps to stock up on ones with the added name, so we’re not making extra money because of the revision. If there’s comparable legitimate documentation for Sea of Mississippi and Lake Minnesota, we’ll give it a look!

October 8, 2007 at 10:04 pm
(15) The Seagull says:

Joan does have a point there.

October 9, 2007 at 11:03 am
(16) ogdendunes says:

What does a term being used for a long time have to do with it? I find it telling that most of the above comments are coming from people disgustingly calling itself the United States of America, while ignoring the years of complaints from the other two dozen nations of America. Accept that everyone else thinks of you as South Canada, and then maybe your words will have more validity.

October 10, 2007 at 3:18 am
(17) Abestar says:

Off topic, get a life.

October 10, 2007 at 11:18 pm
(18) Anne Riz says:

I like the AP class’s writing to change the Gulf of Mexico’s name, but since I’m from Louisiana, I think it should the Louisiana Sea, right?

Also, just kidding.
The Koreans ploy only serves to highlight need to compensate.

October 12, 2007 at 4:28 am
(19) Juan says:

From many years of studying maps it seems to me that a “Sea” often derives its name from how it designates where you will be if you travel across it from a Mainland.
Thus, ‘Sea of Japan’ would be a harmonious designation.
But ‘Eastern Sea,’ traditional to Koreans, who can rightfully be proud of their maritime tradition, is equally appropriate.
So I think an approach like the lady from Nystrom’s is very good.

October 15, 2007 at 12:50 am
(20) nestor pacana says:

i think it should be called east sea. if japan were to continue calling it the sea of japan then that would be similar to america calling the pacific ocean an “american lake” some time ago when she got the philippines

October 15, 2007 at 3:51 am
(21) Abestar says:

Wow those things aren’t even close to being similar. Congrats, you just came up with the most moronic reason for renaming it.

October 15, 2007 at 10:47 am
(22) Vinod Shakya says:

Please do not change its name it become very defficult for the people who are preparing for competative exams.

Just kidding

I think its about the location of the sea and the formation which should be the base of naming of any particular area or thing. I think Japanies won’t be very happy with this change.

October 21, 2007 at 11:04 pm
(23) I am Corean says:

It has to become East Sea. Of course I am Korean, no I’m Corean. I am not good at English, but I want to say about Japan.I am very sad about this topic. Japan did plunder Corea and controlled. Korea was “Corea” but Japan did not want to be the back of Corea, so they changed. Also they changed the name East Sea to Sea of Japan. Now, Japan is trying to have Corean Island, Dok-do.

I think It should be “East Sea.”

April 10, 2008 at 3:44 am
(24) Bob Brown says:

The correct name is “Sea of Japan,” NOT “East Sea.” Call it SEA OF JAPAN!
The islets belong to Japan and are called “Takeshima,” not “Dokdo,” which is what South Koreans call it. South Korea is illegally occupying Japanese territory as those islets are Japanese.
But when North Korea nukes South Korea and destroys all South Koreans, then Japan will rightfully take back the islets that is rightfully theirs.
Given Japan’s vastly superior military they could easily get it back today from South Korea as South Korea’s military is a joke. South Korea needs the US to protect them from North Korea because they are not able to protect themselves. So sad. South Korea is a weak and poor country.
But why should Japan take back the islets today when it is not necessary as North Korea will soon destroy South Korea, and then Japan can take back Takeshima without any problems from South Korea.

April 10, 2008 at 4:45 pm
(25) Chris says:

wow so many ironic japanese people here.
Actually, Dok-do is a korean territory. I can’t believe Japanese are still arguing over this.. we even have a KOREAN FLAG AND ARMY on that island. Japan has been trying to take that land for many years, but everyone else knows its Dok-do.

Bob brown’s attitude comes from their teachings in school. Their modified their History books so that they can make themselves look better, and they NEVER offically apologized what they did to South Korea when they annexed or way before that. Also the “Sea of Japan” was actually Sea of Korea, and was recognized that way until Portugese mapmakers came first to japan. Japanese people said that Sea of Korea was sea of japan..

you can still find anti-koreans in japan when you visit there. They are actually worse than americans being racist in their country. I’ve been there and i am a korean.. I left the next week because their behavior and looks towards me.

Seriously though, if you guys don’t know anything in this, dont say anything because more than half of you guys have no idea what’s going on.

April 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm
(26) chris says:

oh yeah and one more thing. After japan lost to american in WW2, they signed a contract saying they will never have an army, instead Americans will guard their land. But look today, they broke that rule and they are making their own army.

and N.Korea will never nuke S.Korea..
if they do, it will be on america

April 21, 2008 at 6:23 am
(27) Eugene says:

Unfortunately, when a country dominates another, the first thing lost is the truth.
It is equally true that those who control a country also control its history. Such was the case of the East Sea, when it was occupied by Japan (1910-1945). From that time on, Korea had no chance at all of showing to the world “the East Sea”. Japan now controlled the country, so it also changed the East Sea to Sea of Japan. The Japanese completely rewrote The East Sea , and even Koreans themselves were forced to learn a very distorted version. Korean historians had not yet had the chance to publish works about Korea in English and, when they finally did, the Japanese versions had become firmly entrenched in Western societies

May 11, 2008 at 6:55 pm
(28) John Kim says:

Why are you guys always on the side of Japan?
I’m Korean, and it’s easier to see our side if you are Korea nyourself. If you research enough, you will see most ancient maps label the “Sea of Japan” as the “East Sea”, “Oriental Sea”, or “Korean Sea.”
Bob, you are being very one-sided. We are not illegally taking Japan’s land. It was originally our land, our fishing areas. It was during the Japanese colonization that Korea was plundered. See both sides before you guys decide.
Japan is basically a world power, I can acknowledge that. Don’t you know that the US has changed their history books to go in line with the Japanese? Think. When you see someone Asian, don’t you think,”They have to be Chinese/Japanese.” Korean people are not that well known as Japanese. So it’s very natural to see that.
Do you think North Korea is trying to bomb South Korea? No. North Korea has the same opinion as South Korea. They were joined together until communism broke out.
Besides, if Japan ever called the “East Sea” the “Sea of Japan,” it would be ironic. Japan is called the “Land of the Rising Sun,” but the sun sets in the so-called “Sea of Japan.”
Seagull, look back in the past. “East Sea” was used, but was abruptly changed since the colonization of Korea by Japan.
Abestar, we like calling Korea as Corea, it’s our preference. Oh yeah, and have some respect.

July 7, 2008 at 5:09 am
(29) George Gauthier says:

The Koreans are just being parochial and chauvinistic. They want the sea named for themselves instead of Japan. It is the East Sea only in relation to Korea. In relation to Japan, it would be the West Sea.
Also, changing the name would cause confusion with the almost contiguous East China Sea which is south of Korea. Will the Koreans next ask everyone to call that the South Sea.
I hate to be the one to break the news to that fine country, but they are not the center of the world.
Let Korea be satisfied with its Gulf of Korea in the Yellow Sea, Korean Archipelago, and Chosen Bay and the Korea Strait (why not the Japan Strait after all)

July 16, 2008 at 10:21 pm
(30) Kim says:

It should be sea of Korea

July 16, 2008 at 10:23 pm
(31) anie says:

East Sea

July 16, 2008 at 10:40 pm
(32) song eun mi says:

ofcourse East Sea

July 16, 2008 at 10:47 pm
(33) viollet says:

East Sea

July 16, 2008 at 10:51 pm
(34) kimkyunghee says:

It should be sea of korea.

July 16, 2008 at 11:50 pm
(35) Fon Wang says:

“Sea of Japan” has nothing to do with the colonialism, it is just one of historically proven names now.

Anything that hasn’t been satisfactory to Korea or Korean mind is Japan’s fault (and anything that isn’t going well is US’s fault). This is like a kid who takes it for granted that he can make any childish complaints to his mom.

However, Koreans are doing it at a country-level, for over a half century as if it is their national pastime. I really feel pity for those who can never give up their illusory “eternal and unlimited victim’s rights”. Please Koreans, grow up and care for yourself.

July 17, 2008 at 1:42 am
(36) Mac says:

Dokdo, the name never beed changed and called as another name. Also East Sea is the same as Dokdo. Understand that whole world is controlled by the money…

July 17, 2008 at 8:19 pm
(37) Ms. Lee says:

I’m a middle school student in Korea.
It is East Sea. Koreans don’t understand why East Sea called Sea of Japan. We(Koreans) called 동해 in Korea. It means East(동)Sea(해)
. East Sea is Korean’s territorial waters. so It’s name is East Sea

August 13, 2008 at 11:02 am
(38) Oh my god says:

Look who’s talking. Why don’t YOU Americans grow up and face the truth?

I can’t believe that there are so many racists and so many mis-educated persons in the U.S. I know a lot of people in U.S don’t think and don’t want to know the truth. Lazy!!! Obviously yeah. If they find out the truth, they’ll figure out how stupid they are!

The campaign to change Sea of Japan to East Sea is not because Koreans are chauvinistic! Hello! People! Just because of your laziness to re-memorize stuff or to change maps does not give any justification to yell at Koreans that they are being chauvinistic! These campaigns have been going on for a very long time, because Korean history and the truth have been DISTORTED by the Japanese, who had and still has power and money. You are just so afraid to face the truth and have to be enemies with Japan.

At least, try to understand the weak countries. Try to face the truth. If someone takes away your right and your freedom and distorts how you lived and what you are, won’t you be angry? I mean, just because people don’t want to change what they have learned about you – the distorted history of you – does that make any justification for you not to try to get back your true identity? Even an individual who loses their identity and right to live as oneself would be campaigning to get back their identity!

And this issue is about whole lot of Koreans, for very many years!!!!!

You guys are so hypocritical!!! You make many international organizations to help poor people and weak countries but yet in reality, you don’t want to! You don’t try to!

It would be really nice of you if you’d at least TRY to hear the other side of the story which may be the truth – which actually is the truth.


August 13, 2008 at 11:10 am
(39) Oh my god says:

Oh by the way, Abestar,
YOU go get a life.

What a loser.

August 16, 2008 at 5:03 pm
(40) Reit says:

If the islands of Japan weren’t there, it wouldn’t be a sea at all, just the western extremity of the Pacific Ocean. Leave the name as it is. “East Sea” is hardly neutral since it’s east of the Korean peninsula.

August 25, 2008 at 3:14 am
(41) Anonymous says:

It should be called the East Sea or Sea of Korea because Korea owns Dokdo and that makes the land from the Korean coast to Dokdo Korea’s land. That is half of the length of the so-called Sea of Japan. Even in history, European mapmakers called it Sea of Korea or Sea of Chosun. It is not ridiculous at all that Koreans want the rightful name restored. They are sacrificing the correct title which is Sea of Korea because they know that people will accuse them of wanting to own the sea themselves and being aggressors in the conflict. They just want it to be called East Sea and I say that is the least Japan can “forfeit” for all the years of damage that the country has caused to Korean history.

September 3, 2008 at 10:01 pm
(42) commoner says:

For those people who are naive to the assertive and hyper-emotional Korean claims,
here a couple of common Korean proverbs for your understanding;

The crying child can get the rice cake of a lot of one.
The person who picks it up is the owner.
It is a world where people will cut off your nose and eat it if you close your eye.

So they think they are doing right to get what they want by their common sense,
besides they also think that they are eternally entitled to label Japan as Absolute
Evil without any reflection or respect.

However, the world in Internet age knows there is no such absolute
good or evil but they just donít get it and go on making noises…

As a matter of fact, most Japanese cannot care less about the name issue because
it is obviously too absurd to even argue.

You’ll see.

October 1, 2008 at 1:29 am
(43) Dave says:

If you look at a map, it has hemisphere. China/Korea/Japan are in the EASTERN hemisphere… All the way on the EAST. Hence Eastern sea, not thinking about Korea/Japan.. in the world it is in the EAST.

You guys are so freaking retarded..

October 2, 2008 at 6:47 am
(44) redneck says:

(42)… I don’t see your point. Your Eastern sea claim might be applied to Pacific Ocean in contrast with Atlantic Ocean (LOL!), but not to tiny narrow Sea of Japan. Well I did looked up a map of the eastern hemisphere, do you also wanna call Indian Ocean as “Central Eastern Ocean” by your rule? Your simple-minded occidentalism (if you are) makes me smile.

October 5, 2008 at 6:10 pm
(45) leedurhamstone says:

Perhaps a compromise might be “East Asian Sea” or “Sea of East Asia.”

January 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(46) Shin kim says:

I am half Korean and half Japanese. My father is Korean so my last name is Kim. In fact, Japan conquered Korea and made colony. Also, Japan changed the history and culture of Korea. When Korea independented from Japan, everyone were crying because of their happy feelings.I am half Japanese but I will never change history of Korea. One of Korea’s history is Sea Of Japan of East Sea. Most Americans say that East Sea is Japan Sea because Japan is better than Korea. However, It is real Korean sea. You know why? Before the B.C., Korean found the Dokdo(an island in Sea of Japan) first time. Dokdo has a lot of sources like fuels and new source that found of earth first time. However, Japan wants to get Dokdo throughout spreading that the sea is Japan’s sea. I declare to Japenese that Sea of Japan must change to Sea of Korea or East Sea

February 3, 2009 at 4:07 am
(47) K. says:

That is distortion of history. Prove to me that dokdo was found before B.C.

May 21, 2009 at 12:08 pm
(48) Bill Streifer says:

I’m in the process of writing a book, called the Flight of the Hog Wild (see link), about an American B-29 that was forced down in northern Korea (now North Korea) by Soviet fighters on August 29, 1945.

Before the plane crashed on an airfield in HamHung, six of the crew bailed out into the East Sea (about 15 miles from shore).

Now, a little history. In 1910, Japan and Korea signed the Japan-Korea Annexation agreement (which both North Korea and South Korea both believe “Korea” was coerced into signing.

So, between August 1910 and Augsut 1945 (when Japan surrendered after WWII), Japan effectively controlled Korea, and required that Korea change the name of its cities, schools, country, and the body of water to the east of the Korean Peninsula.

Do I believe the crew bailed out into the East Sea? yes

Do I believe that maps should reflect the fact that Korea (both North and South) are independent nations? of course!

It may be 60+ years too late, but the change should be made on all maps, effectively immediately.

[If scientists can change "planet Pluto" to just plain "Pluto," cartographers can do this]

July 4, 2009 at 1:19 am
(49) phoenix says:

Although there is not a single old European map that shows the evidence of “East Sea”, the name is prevailing rapidly in internet world.
This really proves “A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth.”

Please see the map of Yahoo! Korea and zoom out appropriately.
You can see that Korean peninsula is surrounded by “East Sea”, “West Sea” and “South Sea”.
This shows the real reason why Korean insist that “Sea of Japan” should be “East Sea”.
Korean believes Korea is always the center of the world and forces this belief to others.

By the way, why doesn’t Korean insist that “Yellow Sea” should be “West Sea” or “East China Sea” should be “South Sea”?

I hope next victim is not your neighboring sea.

July 17, 2009 at 10:08 pm
(50) GTO says:

It must be “Sea of Japan”. Korean insist it with distorture claim that the name of “Sea of Japan is the result of Japan’s annexation of Korea, or Imperialism”.
The name of Sea of Japan established around La Perouse, Broughton, and Krusenstern who they sailed Sea of Japan for discovering tour on early 19century and it become grobal standard.
By the way some Koran claims “Corean Sea” it started disappared from the name from 1780-1830. The name of “Corea” succeed to “Strait of Corea(a.k.a Tushima str in Japan )” and “East Corean Sea/Gulf a.k.a Broughton bay or TongJeoseonman(East Korean Gulf)today.
and , in hydrographic magazine and charts around 16-20 century, East Sea means “East China Sea, Tung-hai” , not “Corea East Sea”

August 11, 2009 at 11:19 pm
(51) Jonarthan L says:

Hello~~ This is an really important issue in Northeast region.

When the begining time, it was “Korean Sea” or “Corean Sea.” When Japan did invade other Asian countries including China, they did so many bad things like Germany.

Also, they changed so many words they prefer. They changed “Korean Sea” to “Sea of Japan”

Now, German people is so humble and kind that everybody like German people. But, otherwise, Japanese hasn’t have any sorry or effort to correct what they did wrong!!

This is making Asian people get so angry.
Even though they became by Asian war and Asian resource they took it away, they think they are higher than other countries.

Here, we need to clarify of the fact exactly.
Korea want to be just peaceful name of it at the begining time because the name, “Sea of Japan,” was decided when it was the colonial era, but Japan ignored it.

So Korea insisting it should change from “Sea of Japan” to “East Sea”

Korea just want any peaceful name!!!

August 11, 2009 at 11:43 pm
(52) Nora Yavkonov says:

GTO!! You are so funny.
How can you say somthing like that? lier?

I check the other source throuhg the internet!
It was “Korean Sea” at the begining time.

And from maybe 16 or 17th century, you, Japan, had traded with the Western and some live there, but any other asian didn’t live there like you, Japanese.

That means your side, Japan, tried to change the name you prefer from so long time ago.

I’ve never seen the name of countries or sea changed in few centuries. That means somebody tried to change it.

And actually it was!!! In the early 20 century, Japan claimed “Sea of Japan” to IHO, International Hydrographic Organization.

Then why did the Japan claim it even if it was “Sea of Japan” It is ridiculous!!!

They did need some evidence for it so that they might make fake maps so many and spread it to the world.

The truth is they claimed “Sea of Japan” to IHO in the early begining 20 century, after that it became “Sea of Japan.” The more important thing is there were no Korean officer in that meeting because it was colonial era of the Northeast region. So they changed it by their own taste!!! And it was so simple!!!

I think we need to learn HISTORY very clearly and deeply. Please don’t listen to Japanese government’s side because they think they are so proud about killing so many Asian people, invading so many countries and taking away so much resource.

What a robber!! They are not HUMAN.
They should learn the attitude of German people!!

Lots of Japanese think they were great and wonderful even though their ancestors did so many bad things.

Do you know what the funniest part is?
The Government wants their children to learn their history more gloriously. Where can we find any other countries doing like this?

Wow, they are teaching robbing, killing, lying, taking away and ignoring, and they think it’s proud!!

What the counry!!

September 1, 2009 at 9:56 am
(53) smith says:

Recently, an organization called VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea) has been sending a large number of e-mails to notable web sites around the world. You might have received their messages, but I caution you about readily accepting their invalid claim, which will be explained below.

Following is some background information regarding VANK and the Sea of Japan, which is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, bordered by Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Russia.

1.The beginning was 1992

In 1992, North and South Korea somehow suddenly challenged the sole use of the name Sea of Japan at the Sixth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. It was at this time that South Korea insisted that the name of the Sea of Japan be changed to East Sea, or that both names be used simultaneously.

2.Then came VANK

In the late 1990s, a Korean non-governmental internet organization, called VANK, with the support of the Korean government, initiated a massive world-wide campaign to send a collective protest e-mail to various organizations’ online web sites. Most of these web sites were media-related or publishing company sites. You can view VANK’s campaign at this website: http://prkorea.com/textbook/sendinvoice01-1.htm

September 1, 2009 at 9:56 am
(54) a says:

East sea is wrong

September 1, 2009 at 9:57 am
(55) smith says:

Even though the Sea of Japan is the internationally-established English name, VANK claims, in their e-mails, that the body of water should be renamed the East Sea.

The use of the name Sea of Japan has a historical background and a geographical rationale. I would be grateful if you would read further so that you might understand why I believe that VANK’s claim is groundless.

3.Why is VANK wrong?

South Korea asserts that the “Japanese government and its expansionism and colonial rules intentionally spread the use of Sea of Japan world widely in the latter half of the 19th century.”

However, the Japanese government’s survey of historical maps confirms that the name Sea of Japan was already prevalent in the early 19th century. Japan had an isolationist policy during the Edo Period (1603-1867), and was unable to exercise any influence to establish the name Sea of Japan. Therefore, their assertion is wholly invalid. Furthermore, South Korea provides no evidence for the assertion that the name East Sea has been used continuously for 2000 years.

September 1, 2009 at 9:58 am
(56) smith says:

It was at the end of 20th century when the name East Sea first appeared in the international community possibly for its political purpose. South Korea implies as if the names Sea of Korea or Mare Orientale equate with the name East Sea, but this is groundless and deceptive treatment. And for your information, there was a name Eastern Sea found in many of the old western maps made in the 19th century. This was another name for the current East China Sea. Even though the name East Sea is in use today in South Korea, it is obvious that the name East Sea is a local name, used only in South Korea, and that the name Sea of Japan is the only name that has been widely used internationally for a long period of time.

South Korea provided the results of their own survey on historical maps of the world as proof of the validity of their claim. However, a later survey by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan proved that the Korean survey lacked credibility and it was discovered that there were few historical maps describing the body of water as the East Sea. Please refer to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan at http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/maritime/japan/index.html#2

4.The only internationally-established name: Sea of Japan

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan conducted a survey of historical maps held by the British Library, the University of Cambridge, the United States Library of Congress, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and others, and revealed that there were many historical maps describing the body of water as the Sea of Japan, but few maps designating East Sea. Please refer to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan at http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/maritime/japan/index.html#5

September 1, 2009 at 9:58 am
(57) smith says:

Furthermore, the United Nations, as well as the Government of the United States, officially uses the name Sea of Japan.

The United Nations (UN) recognized Sea of Japan as the standard geographical term in March 2004, and UN policy states that the standard geographical term be used in official UN publications. The UN Secretariat has further clarified its stance on the issue by affirming the need to observe prevailing practice to ensure fairness and neutrality, stating that “without taking sides on the issue, the simultaneous use of both [Sea of Japan and 'East Sea'] infringes on the neutrality of the United Nations.”

All federal agencies of the United States are required to use the name Sea of Japan. Other agencies within the United States are strongly encouraged to use the term as well. The governments of other major countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and China, officially use the name Sea of Japan. The following web site provides supporting information for these assertions. http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/maritime/japan/index.html#4

September 1, 2009 at 9:59 am
(58) smith says:

5.Possible problems with the Korean claim

Should such a claim by Korea on the names of oceans and seas be accepted, so must other similar self-interest claims. This would go against one of the objectives of the IHO, “the greatest possible uniformity in nautical charts and documents,” and accordingly, possibly become a harmful precedent that opens the door on worldwide mariner confusion on the names of oceans and seas. In terms of ensuring navigational safety, continuity in the names of oceans and seas is important.

Other relevant web sites:

*The Issue of the Name of the Sea of Japan

*Pamphlets produced by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Sea of Japan – The One and Only Name Familiar to the International Community

*Pamphlets produced by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
A Historical overview of the name “Sea of Japan”

*Japanese Basic Position on the Naming of the “Japan Sea”

*Changes in the names shown in maps by countries other than Japan or South Korea during 17th to 20th centuries

September 1, 2009 at 10:00 am
(59) a says:

east sea is incorrect

September 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm
(60) Emily says:

OMG. It’s not sea of Japen. Ever if it called for centuries. The actual name is The East Sea.

March 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm
(61) plutopig says:

omg so many ppl think that it’s called Sea of Japan, not East Sea. first of all, what you guys don’t understand is that this sea-name conflict isn’t just about Koreans’ one way to feel better. East Sea has natural resources beneath, so it’s also about resource fight. secondly, how do you know the name “Sea of Japan” is the original? if you saw any of the old maps of Japan (made by Japanese ppl) it clearly states the water between Korea and Japan “SEA OF JOSEON/KOREA” not “sea of Japan”. after Japan occupied Korea, they started eating up Korean territory — such as Dokdo (the one what is named Takeshima in Japanese) so my point is, you shouldn’t call it “Sea of Japan”. Maps are all about politics, you know

March 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm
(62) gspn says:

i’m not good at english. but i have to say it.
it’s located between Korea and Japan.
why we have to call it sea of Japan??
because it’s been called long time?

if east sea is incorrect name , sea of japan is incorrect name too.

June 19, 2010 at 6:42 am
(63) Stella says:


The Historical precedent for the ‘East Sea’


September 18, 2010 at 2:54 am
(64) I. DULIN says:

Владивосток – русский город на берегу японского моря.
(Vladivostok – Russian city on the Sea of Japan.)

Let Koreans call “East Sea” while others call Sea of Japan.
Do not bother us.


April 8, 2011 at 2:13 am
(65) lionel says:

In recent years, a Korean organization, called VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea) has been sending a large number of e-mails to notable world web sites and asking organizations to switch from the name Sea of Japan to East Sea. You might have received their messages, but I warn you not to readily accept their invalid claim.

These are pamphlets produced by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Please see these pdf files.

Sea of Japan – The One and Only Name Familiar to the International Community

A Historical overview of the name “Sea of Japan”

If you want more information, please go to the website of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japan Coast Guard given below. There are detailed information and detailed pamphlets about the problem.

I recommend that you retain the sole use of the name Sea of Japan in all the documents and atlases. I trust you will use sound judgment.

April 8, 2011 at 2:14 am
(66) lionel says:

(1)It is verified by a survey of historical maps from around the world conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan that the name Sea of Japan is the only internationally established name for the sea area concerned.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “The Issue of the Name of the Sea of Japan”
Historical map research in the British Library

 Sea of Japan 32
 East Sea 0

Historical map reasearch in the University of Cambridge

 Sea of Japan 18
 East Sea 0

Historical map research in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France

 Sea of Japan 254
 East Sea 0

Historical map reaserch in the U.S. Library of Congress

 Sea of Japan 1110
 East Sea 2

Historical map research in the Russian Federation

 Sea of Japan 29
 East Sea 1

Historical map research in the Berlin State Library

 Sea of Japan 579
 East Sea 5

Historical map research in the collection of antiquarian map dealer Nikolaus Struck

 Sea of Japan 35
 East Sea 0

April 8, 2011 at 2:15 am
(67) lionel says:

(2)The United Nations as well as the Government of the United States officially uses the name Sea of Japan.

United Nations officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

U.S. Department of State officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

International Hydrographic Organization officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan

CIA officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

New York Times officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

CNN officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan

(3)Other relevant web sites

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “The Issue of the Name of the Sea of Japan”

Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department of Japan Coast Guard “Naming of “Japan Sea”"

February 2, 2012 at 8:16 am
(68) kastia says:

Of course It is not sea of Japan….. its called the East sea

February 2, 2012 at 8:25 am
(69) Edward Richardson says:

Well, people are trending (?) East sea nowadays,,,

Japan should accept the fact that it is called the East sea.
I have2 world maps at school and they that it is the East sea, also.

My teacher has taught me that it is not Sea of Japan, and im at an international school –”

I have a weird feeling about japan, why they teach wrong history to children, and so on.

February 11, 2012 at 12:46 am
(70) Kevin Cliff says:

I’ll tell you the story of this nonsense argument.

In 1910, Japan invade Korea and colinize it.
Then, Japan want to make whole korea for their imperial territory.
So they went to the most popular map making company,
(I forgot what was the company name.)
and they bribe the company and said “Name it to Sea of Japan instead of East sea (Sea of korean).

There’s an evidence. When you find the map before Japan colonize korea, They name it Sea of Korea, or East sea. but, when you find the map after japan colonize korea, you’ll find it that they named it sea of Japan.

When you wanna against me, sea the 19 century map first.

P.S. OH, Dokdo named to Dakeshima as a same way.

February 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm
(71) Joe Smith says:

To Koreans:

Please stop imposing your preferred naming conventions on native English speakers. The internationally established name in English is Sea of Japan. I have no issues with the body of water being called Donghae in Korean. I have issues with Koreans attempting to dictate to me, a native English speaker, what the body of water should be called in my language.

To give an equivalent of my argument in reverse, Koreans should stop labeling the USA as Migook. They should start calling it Yu-ae-seu (US) or Yu-ae-seu-ae-i (USA).

April 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm
(72) nanathehungry says:

@Joe Smith
How can you tell the Koreans to change their language to fit American english? If you’re going to say that, why don’t you just tell them to change their whole language, so that everything will be pronounced, like you said, in english?

That’s a false analogy. How can you compare the renaming ot the map problem with that? With Migook, they aren’t trying to RENAME the USA. It’s just how it’s said in Korean. Have you ever heard of Koreans telling other people to call the USA Migook?

Well, if we were to go along with your thoughts, everyone else in the world should call Korea ‘Hangook’. Because that’s how it’s said in Korea. Which is ridiculous!

I had no idea that this naming of the East Sea/Sea of Japan was such a big issue. I’m not going to mention what I think here, because I don’t want to argue with such hot-headed people. Why can’t you people argue with arguments with evidence? And if you’re going to bring up evidence, get them from neutral sources. How can you say ‘it should be the sea of japan because this official japanese gov. website said so!’? Information from that site would obviously be biased to the Japanese people’s point of view. Vice versa for Koreans.

July 4, 2012 at 11:37 pm
(73) Chuckie says:

Aah, the politics of toponymy – always guaranteed to get insecure nations worked up. ‘East Sea’ makes no sense to anyone but K/Corea – it’s arrogant and ethnocentric. The suggestion higher above that – if it be renamed at all – it be renamed the ‘East Asian Sea’ is the best alternative, but geographically Sea of Japan makes the most sense because without the Japanese archipelago there, it would just be part of the Pacific Ocean. Any historical talk of what K/Corea called it or what Japan called it fifty eight thousand years ago is all bullshit because countries just invent their own bullshit histories to justify their arguments.

August 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm
(74) J says:

What would you do?? If it’s your country??
Would you just seat down and do nothing??
Yes some people can say
“why would they fight??”
but do you know about Japanese military sexual slavery?? Japanese told teenager girls that they will give food and teach them but they used them as a tool for soilders
if you don’t know the history than shut your mouth and do what you have to do and don’t judge us with your thin knowledge

November 17, 2012 at 5:54 am
(75) sky says:

@Joe Smith
chinese ppl are also calling US as mei guo, they should change to.
Have you ever seen any Japanese ppl calling as how native English speaker says so?

December 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm
(76) Monica An says:

@Joe Smith
Out of topic. What does that has to do East Sea? Japan should recognize that it is 21C. They seem that they are still dreaming of rebirth of the past imperialism without abandoning the temptation. No more fooling people with distorted history. It is EAST SEA not Sea of Japan.

February 16, 2013 at 5:22 am
(77) Su says:

East sea is right. Koreans were oppressed by Japanese and Japanese stole lots of things like Korea’s cultural assets, territories, even royal family and citizens! And they distoring the truth. Liancourt Rocks and Take-shima are wrong too. Dokdo is right. Japanese stole Korean and their culture, nature etc and they say like the’re victims… Victims are Korean. Japanese fired at Korean’s houses and hit them!

February 25, 2013 at 7:56 am
(78) Jenny C says:

@Joe Smith
Uh…..Okay honestly I have no idea what Koreans calling USA mi gook has to do with the East Sea/Sea if Japan issue. As the people above pointed out, mi gook is just the way we Koreans call USA, as we call Japan il bon. Again, that has NOTHING to do with the issue that is being discussed.
As for the East Sea/ Sea of Japan problem, I think it should be called the East Sea, or even the East Sea of Asia. Koreans are NOT trying to be(or even thinking that we are) the center of the world or something. We are simply trying to reclaim what was and is rightfully ours, such as Dokdo. We are trying to reset the wrong history we were and some are being taught that was re-written during the Japanese occupancy and ever since. East Sea, Sea of Japan honestly, to foreigners it’s just some stupid kid’s fight. I completely understand that, however please do not argue without your facts wrong. Sea of Japan(East Sea), or maybe even the East Sea of Asia. All I’m asking is to reach a fair unbiased consensus.
(East sea/ East Sea of Asia because it is surrounded by the Eastern Asian countries)

February 28, 2013 at 9:31 pm
(79) L says:

Some people are trying to justify the name “East sea” by saying that it is geography correct. What the hell they are talking about?
For some nations the sea is in the east, but for some nations it is in the west!! As lionel listed, sea of Japan has been always sea of Japan. If Japan did not exist, the name of the sea would have been just Pacific Ocean. Geographically, Japan is the sole country accounted for the sea; therefore, Sea of Japan is only the way we should call it.

People who are in favor of East Sea write ridiculous arguments based on no evidence. They also use crap English too, which indicate they are posting to this website from Korea. The truth is, they are telling their imaginary stuffs, and telling us to check ourselves! You guys should be the ones who must provide us with historical evidences based on historical documents if they want to convince us.

March 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm
(80) IHATEJAPAN says:


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