Niigata to urge Diet to fight for Sea of Japan


The Niigata Prefectural Assembly decided Friday to urge the Diet and the national government to fight to keep the name of the body of water northwest of the Japanese archipelago as the Sea of Japan.

The assembly adopted an opinion report calling on the Diet and the government to prevent the name from being eliminated from the “Limits of Oceans and Seas” guideline, which is being revised by the International Hydrographic Organization.

South Korea is seeking to change the name to the East Sea or to have maps use both names, saying the current predominance of the Sea of Japan name originated during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The opinion report says the Sea of Japan is an established name as it has been used internationally since the end of the 18th century and rejects South Korea’s assertion, saying the East Sea is a subjective designation as the area lies to the east of that country.

The body of water is surrounded by Japan to the southeast, Russia’s Far East to the north, and the Korean Peninsula to the west. North Korea is also calling for the name to be changed to the East Sea.

In August, Japan was surprised to learn that the Sea of Japan designation was eliminated in a draft guideline of the International Hydrographic Organization, which is responsible for harmonizing nautical charts and documents, and lodged a protest with the Monaco-based organization.

Member states have until the end of November to respond to revision proposals. If no agreement is reached on the matter by the deadline, the sea could be left nameless.