VA Lawmakers Join Asian Naming Dispute

Feb 5, 2014

Virginia's General Assembly has been caught in a dispute between Japan and Korea—and it's all over how students and teachers refer to the body of water between the two nations.

Throughout the session, Asian media, emissaries, and other interested parties have crowded committee meetings and Capitol hallways … and some have even met with the Governor. 

The dispute is over whether the current name of the “Sea of Japan” in textbooks should be referred to in new versions as the "East Sea."


Several Northern Virginia lawmakers were contacted by constituents of Korean heritage. They expressed their discontent with that body of water being referred to as the Sea of Japan in textbooks—and say it's a legacy and reminder of Japan's occupation of Korea.  

Delegate Tim Hugo introduced the legislation, which would require all newly printed Virginia textbooks that refer to the Sea of Japan to note that it is also referred to as the East Sea. Delegate Joe Morrissey questions why the state would do this.
Despite Morrissey's objections, the bill was advanced to its final stage in the House of Delegates.