Japan has started a lobbying campaign to stop the U.S. state of New York pushing for legislation that would require school textbooks to call the body of water east of Korea "East Sea" as well as "Sea of Japan."
The Japanese Consul General in New York Sumio Kusaka sent letters to New York state senators and representatives voicing his country's opposition to using the name "East Sea," according to Kim Dong-chan, who heads a group of Korean-American voters.
The move in New York follows a similar bill in the state of Virginia.
Kusaka said in his letter that the "East Sea" name is "unnecessary" since the U.S. State Department officially uses only the "Sea of Japan" designation. Kusaka claimed that "Sea of Japan" was used to refer to the body of water since before imperial Japan.
Kim said Japanese patriots are also sending e-mails to New York state lawmakers with the same arguments.
Korean-American groups are taking a cautious approach in order to avoid a full-blown diplomatic dispute over the issue and will focus on passing the legislation by May.