Int'l Call to Use Both 'East Sea' and 'Sea of Japan'

      September 04, 2009 09:06

      At the 15th International Seminar on the Naming of Seas in Sydney, Australia on Thursday, a two-day session called for using both the names "East Sea" and "Sea of Japan" for the body of water dividing Korea and Japan. The call was in line with recent trends in international geography to use exonym and eponym concurrently.

      Austria took the opportunity to announce that it has made it an official policy to use both names.

      Since it joined a UN body on geographical names in 1992, Korea has been urging the international community to give official recognition to the name "East Sea."

      The call is based on the UN Resolution on the Standardization of Geographical Names adopted in 1974, which says when there is a geographical feature shared among two or more countries, the designation is generally standardized through consultations among the countries concerned. If the effort to standardize fails, however, the names used by each of the countries are used concurrently.

      Participants pose for a group photo at the International Seminar on the Naming of Seas in Sydney, Australia on Thursday.

      At the seminar, European geographers and Brahim Atoui, vice chair of the UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names, reiterated the importance of approaching the controversy over the use of East Sea or Sea of Japan, through debate on exonym and eponym.

      The prevailing view is that priority should be given to eponym over exonym, giving rise to a call to respect both names, since "East Sea" is the Korean eponym and "Sea of Japan" the Japanese.

      Meanwhile, Peter Jordan, the chair of the Austrian Board on Geographical Names, on Thursday said the agency recently decided to use both names on maps, in printed matter such as newspapers, and in videos or films. The board is a joint government-civilian council that makes decisions on official geographical names used in Austria.

      Korean geographers who attended the seminar said so far only civilian organizations like National Geographic in the U.S. have decided to use both names, but Austria is the first country that decided to do so.

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