BERLIN – A 10-day U.N. conference on geographical names concluded Thursday without addressing demands by South Korea and North Korea that the name for the body of water now called the Sea of Japan be changed, Japanese delegation officials said.
The Sea of Japan — the body of water bordered by the Korean Peninsula, the Russian Far East and the western side of the Japanese archipelago — is known in South Korea as the East Sea and in North Korea as the Sea of Korea.
South Korea and Japan both want their names for the Sea of Japan to be reflected in world atlases and took up the issue at the U.N. Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
Japanese officials said there was little substantial debate on the issue at the conference, which the Japanese delegation argues is not the proper venue to address specific geographical names.
“I think the Japanese position won acceptance,” Koji Inomata, the chief Japanese delegate to the U.N. conference, told reporters after the meeting.
Inomata, minister at the Japanese Embassy in South Korea, said the Japanese government has no intention of using any name other than Sea of Japan and plans to explain that in bilateral talks with the South Korean government.
Inomata said the Sea of Japan appellation issue has not emerged in talks between Japan and North Korea, as the two countries have no diplomatic relations.
South Korea argues that the current use of the term Sea of Japan reflects Japan’s one-time predominance in the region, marked by its 1910-1945 rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan argues that the term Sea of Japan has been used internationally since the late 18th century and that it is not an issue to be decided on at a U.N. meeting.
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