Neither East Sea Nor Sea of Japan

The issue over registering the official name of the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan will likely not be settled at the general assembly meeting of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) held in Monaco.

Therefore, discussions on the issue are expected to be delayed until the next general assembly meeting in 2009.

The international organization discussed the publication of the 4th edition of Limits of Oceans and Seas (IHO Special Publication 23), which is used as a standard to determine names of waters worldwide, in the general assembly gathering that started May 9.

The issue over the waters in question was supposed to be discussed as well in this meeting, but both Korea and Japan did not submit a proposal demanding a vote on this problem.
A South Korean delegation said, It is a normal procedure to present a proposal demanding a vote in order to settle a big matter like this issue. Japan didnt, and Korea too did not submit a proposal to demand the IHO to adopt the name East Sea.

The Korean delegation predicted that the issue would be postponed fruitlessly as the IHO general assembly has taken a cautious position over an issue and none of the countries submitted a proposal.

Japan registered Sea of Japan as the official name of the waters with the IHO in 1929 and continued to use the name in the third edition of the IHO Special Publication 23 in 1953. The 2002 general meeting put off settling the matter and published a tentative version with a blank space under the name of the waters

Seoul officials said, As Japan has been successfully lobbying to reconfirm the Sea of Japan as the name to be used on new maps, it is hard for Korea to demand a vote to use only East Sea as the name of the waters or adopt both East Sea and Sea of Japan. But delaying this issue is not that bad for Korea in that Seoul can play for time to raise its influence.

Meanwhile, a public and private joint delegation from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a research institute for the East Sea anticipated a proposal from Japan and worked hard to win over delegations from 78 member countries in Monaco last weekend. A representative of the delegation said, We distributed pamphlets to the delegations and defended the legitimacy of using the name East Sea to them. North Korea was said to support the Korean delegation.
It joined the IHO in 1987 and dispatched three delegates of admirals. Moreover, the North Korean delegates encouraged the South Korean representatives, saying, You will reap a reward in the end. The Pyongyang team gave strategic advice as well, saying that promoting past names of the waters on foreign maps would be more persuadable than showing them Korean maps.
In the meantime, foreign delegations expressed their discomfort in that they have received an average of 200 letters insisting on the legitimacy of the name East Sea. They said, We were surprised by Koreas big interest in this issue and its aggressive attitude, but some delegations regarded the letters as spam mail, and that could backfire.


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