Experts to seek evidence over Sea of Japan name

Japan plans to send experts to the U.S. Library of Congress to examine 19th century maps in a bid to strengthen its position in the dispute with South Korea over the name of the Sea of Japan, according to Foreign Ministry officials.

South Korea wants the world to call the body of water surrounded by Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Russia’s Far Eastern shores the “East Sea.”

It says “Sea of Japan” came into dominant use as a result of Japanese imperialism and colonialism in the first half of the 20th century.

Japan annexed Korea in 1910 and ruled it until the end of World War II in 1945.

Japan has resisted the South Korean campaign on the grounds that “Sea of Japan” became established in European maps from the beginning of the 19th century. It is also the name accepted worldwide, the government says.

South Korea examined the antique maps at the Library of Congress in late 2002 and said that more than 60 percent show “East Sea” or “Sea of Korea.” The information was disseminated widely via the Internet and other means.

Officials at the Foreign Ministry, however, believe mistakes were made in the South Korean investigation.

The ministry claims to have proved the inaccuracy of similar South Korean assertions based on Seoul’s examinations of old maps at the British Library, the Cambridge University Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

Starting in 2001, South Korea examined the maps at the three prestigious libraries, and said many used “Sea of Korea” or “East Sea.”

The Foreign Ministry looked at these maps and said it found there were many omissions in the results of the South Korean analysis.