NEW YORK – Two New York state lawmakers said Monday that they have introduced legislation to require all new public school textbooks used in the state to refer to the waters between Japan and South Korea as the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.
The East Sea is South Korea’s preferred name. Korean Americans in the state have been pressing for textbooks to use both names for the body of water.
The bill was introduced to both houses of the state legislature after Virginia state lawmakers passed similar legislation last Thursday.
“It is often said that history is written by the victors. In this case, the widely known name for a body of water is a constant reminder for Koreans worldwide of an era of oppression, occupation and violence,” New York State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said in a statement.
“Understanding the historical and political implications of this conflict and acknowledging the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan is an important lesson for New York students as they learn to be conscientious global citizens,” Stavisky said.
“Historically, this body of water has been referred to as both the East Sea and the Sea of Japan. Therefore, it is unfair to Koreans and our students to erroneously refer to it solely as the Sea of Japan,” State Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein said.
South Korean advocates have also been lobbying for a similar change in neighboring New Jersey, according to South Korean media.