SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) — South Korea should increase its budget and assign more diplomats to bolster its campaign to change the international community’s name for the waters separating the Korean Peninsula and Japan to the “East Sea,” a ruling party lawmaker said Tuesday.
Amid renewed passions over the East Sea name, Rep. Chung Ok-nim of the Grand National Party pointed out that South Korea allocated only 50 million won (US$46,768) for the campaign this year, compared with the foreign ministry’s entire budget of 1.5 trillion won. In addition, only one low-level official at the ministry’s U.N. bureau is charged with handling the East Sea issue, Chung said in a statement, citing the ministry data. “The foreign ministry must increase its relevant budget and assign high-level diplomats to deal with the matter,” Chung said in the statement.
Seoul and Tokyo have tussled for decades over the name of the body of water, with South Korea calling it the “East Sea” while Japan claims the name “Sea of Japan.” The naming issue was back under the spotlight last week in South Korea after the U.S. government reiterated its longstanding policy of supporting the Japanese appellation, prompting some media here to criticize Washington in commentaries for siding with Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.
Speaking over lunch later Tuesday, Sohn Hak-kyu, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), told Kathleen Stephens, the U.S. ambassador to Seoul, that Washington should take South Korea’s position into serious consideration. “The fact that the U.S. is giving the impression that it is siding with Japan on the East Sea naming issue is of no help to peace in Northeast Asia or cooperation among South Korea, Japan and the U.S.,” he said, according to DP spokesman Lee Yong-sup.
Stephens replied that her government understands the issue’s historical sensitivity very well, Lee said.�� South Korea is revving up its diplomatic efforts for the 70-nation International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) to use both names concurrently to describe the body of water at the IHO’s general assembly meeting next April. South Korea said use of “Sea of Japan” was established unfairly during Japan’s colonial rule, arguing the Japanese appellation is a vestige of Tokyo’s imperialistic past that should be changed. Since officially naming the body of water the East Sea in 1992, South Korea has lobbied the international community to simultaneously use both names.
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told reporters on Friday that South Korea ultimately wants only “East Sea” to be used. “The resolution of the East Sea terminology issue is viewed as part of efforts to clear away the remains of Japan’s colonial rule,” Kim said. “Our ultimate goal is, of course, to have only the term ‘East Sea’ used to describe the sea.”
Source : YONHAP NEWS AGENCY