A subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday approved a bill that mandates using both the Korean and Japanese name for the body of water separating the two Asian countries. The bill was already approved by the Virginia Senate last month.
The education subcommittee of the House voted 5-4 in favor of the bill put forward by Republican representative Timothy Hugo. An earlier vote on Wednesday ended in a tie but the bill was put to another vote after Republican representative Scott Lingamfelter suddenly walked out.
The final vote, which lasted only two minutes, took place without additional debate, with Lingamfelter voting in favor.
If the bill is passed by the standing committee and plenary session of the House and signed by the state governor, the state will officially refer to the body of water as both "East Sea" and "Sea of Japan," against official federal practice of using only a single geographical name.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Embassy in Washington paid a major U.S. law firm US$75,000 in December to lobby against the bill. According to documents unveiled on Sunday, the law firm met members of both Senate and House before the start of the January session on Jan. 8.