Virginia to Back Korea's East Sea Crusade

A Korean American group seeking to require the use of “East Sea” along with the Sea of Japan in school textbooks is winning bipartisan support from Virginia’s lawmakers.

Republican Senator Richard Black plans to submit a bill requiring all textbooks authorized by the state education committee to use both names to designate the sea between Japan and Korea, he told a press conference Monday. The conference was held in Annandale which has a large Korean community.

The Sea of Japan designation was registered in 1929 by the International Hydrographic Organization while Korea was under Japanese military occupation, Black noted, militating in favor of simultaneous use of both names despite the official US policy of using only a single designation for geographical features.

The bill has already won the backing of Democrat Senator Dave Marsden, giving it bipartisan support for the first time. The Virginia General Assembly is expected to take up the bill early next year when it is expected to pass. Last year passage of a similar measure had been blocked by opposition mostly from GOP votes.

However, one potential stumbling block is the strong opposition of the Japanese government which has already warned the lawmakers that it is displeased with the measure.

“I would appreciate the support and endorsements of Koreans everywhere,” urged Peter Kim of the group Voice of Korean Americans which is pushing for the bill’s passage.

Virginia is home to an estimated 80,000 Korean Americans, the fourth largest population of the ethnic group after California, New York and New Jersey.