Austrian textbooks to also carry ‘East Sea’ as name for Sea of Japan

Kyodo

Geography textbooks to be used at elementary and secondary schools in Austria from September will carry the name “East Sea” for the body of water officially recognized as the Sea of Japan in line with demands from Seoul, a major publishing house in the country said Wednesday.

Austrian textbook publisher Hoelzel said its policy of carrying the two names reflects instructions by an experts’ group of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which decided in March to recommend that the country’s textbooks refer to both names.

The group said carrying the two names is a realistic option as the media in German-speaking countries have increasingly used both names in recent years.

Printing of the textbooks carrying the two names has already started, the publisher said.

South Korea has long demanded the waters be called the East Sea on grounds that the term Sea of Japan only became popular globally during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

But Japan claims the Sea of Japan has been the international term since the 19th century, even before the peninsula came under Japanese colonial rule, and wants only that name used.

The Foreign Ministry said in Tokyo that textbooks in several other countries, including Brazil and Australia, use both names for the sea area.

In April, the International Hydrographic Organization, a Monaco-based body consisting of 80 member states that aims to achieve uniformity in nautical charts, documents and the name of waters and straits, rejected Seoul’s demand that its publication Limits of Oceans and Seas include “the East Sea” side by side with “the Sea of Japan.”