• Kyodo


A U.N. conference on geographical names is unlikely to address demands by North and South Korea to change the name of the Sea of Japan to the East Sea, Japanese delegation sources said Monday.

The U.N. Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names will make no decision on the name, as other countries insisted such issues should be settled among the nations concerned, they said.

Japan had feared the 10-day Berlin session, which ends Thursday, might adopt a resolution or recommend the name change following the Koreas’ demands.

At the meeting, North Korea first took up the issue, demanding the name change to the East Sea, citing historical circumstances. Seoul, which says the current predominant use of the Sea of Japan originated in Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea, insisted maps should use both the East Sea and the Sea of Japan.

Japan argued that the Sea of Japan has been used internationally since the late 18th century and is not an issue to be decided at a U.N. meeting.

Koji Inomata, an official at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and Seiichi Tanioka, head of the Topographic Department of the governmental Geographical Survey Institute, are representing Japan at the U.N. conference.

In August, Japan was surprised to learn that the “Sea of Japan” designation had been eliminated in a draft guideline of the International Hydrographic Organization, which is responsible for harmonizing nautical charts and documents.

The “Limits of Oceans and Seas” guideline is being revised, and IHO member states have until the end of November to respond to revision proposals.

Japan asked South Korea to talk about the designation of the Sea of Japan in mid-September, Foreign Ministry sources said last Thursday.

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