East Sea or Sea of Japan?

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East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby plumcandy » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:52 am UTC

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You've probably heard of the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia. And the one going on South of China lately too. But there's another one in the same town that has been going on for decades, and it sort of exploded yesterday. It is the naming controversy of the ocean that lies between Japan and Korea.

There has been decades-long dispute over whether this sea was to be called 'East Sea' as Koreans call it, or 'Sea of Japan', the Japanese name. Korean government has been lobbying and doing a variety of things to make the international standards 'East Sea', but yesterday this happened : US agency IHO chooses Sea of Japan over East Sea. More below.

As of now, Sea of Japan is more prominently used than East Sea. Most people may find this obvious - It is next to Japan, which is a bigger country than Korea. East Sea only makes sense from Koreans' point of view.

But things are more complicated than that. If the sea is named Sea of Japan officially and internationally, it implies territorial ownership of the area for Japan. And in the middle of the ocean, there sits Dokdo (Liancourt Rocks), which has been the symbol of the territorial dispute between the two nations. I remember when I was little and growing up in Korea, they even taught us songs about Korea's ownership of the islands.

So how do you name oceans these days? It's not back in the days when stronger nations could do whatever the hell they wanted. Naming an ocean would need an appropriate reasoning and historical evidence behind it. Most people, especially Americans, may know Japan as the more prominent and stronger nation, but South Korea is no third world nation, as part of the G-20, and some say South Korea has entered the top 10 of the world economy.

So we look at historical precedence. Both nations have looked into international archives of different recordings. For better credibility and objectivity, both nations have researched outside sources dating as far back as 16th century. You can look at the overall chart here. So basically, both sides have shown their proofs. Koreans claim that the term East Sea has been used for more than 2,000 years (according to historical recordings from Korean dynasties), yet Japanese claim similar arguments. Koreans also claim that

This dispute has come up many many times for decades. UN has mostly decided not to interfere with the issue, and many nations, organizations and maps have used both terms together. Except recently, Japan's right-wing leaders and politicians have brought up the territorial debate back up Japan-South Korea Island Dispute Escalates. This is a VERY sensitive topic for many Koreans, and this quickly came up as the hot topic of the month. Then IHO made the announcement to use 'Sea of Japan' instead. Some news media are saying that the USA has betrayed South Koreans' trust, even.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Shivahn » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:00 am UTC

Let's just call it the K-J boundary then.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Sizik » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:02 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:Let's just call it the K-J boundary then.


Or the J-K boundary.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Gopher of Pern » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:24 am UTC

Why can't we all compromise?! Call it the East Sea of Japan!
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Shivahn » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:27 am UTC

Sizik wrote:
Shivahn wrote:Let's just call it the K-J boundary then.


Or the J-K boundary.


As long as it's a pun!

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby farnsworth » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:28 am UTC

The "of Japan" doesn't work well. What about The Sea Between Those Two East-Asian Nations, or TEAN Sea?

In all seriousness, I prefer Sea of Japan simply because it sounds better and shows location. The Indian Ocean does not belong to India, does it?

EDIT: Clarified.
EDIT 2: See jestingrabbit's post Apparently, I need to review my geography.
Last edited by farnsworth on Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:15 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Adacore » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:34 am UTC

plumcandy wrote:If the sea is named Sea of Japan officially and internationally, it implies territorial ownership of the area for Japan.

No, calling it the 'Sea of Japan' does not imply that it is Japanese territorial water, any more than the 'Gulf of Mexico' is Mexican territorial water, or the 'Irish Sea' is Irish territorial water. 'Sea of Japan' is the most geographically appropriate name, as it is a sea bounded by the islands of Japan. 'East Sea' gives you no geographical information at all - it could be literally anywhere in the world (the same is true of the 'North Sea', which should also really have a better name).

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:37 am UTC

I think this is a non-issue being taken advantage of by politicians.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby farnsworth » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:40 am UTC

Adacore wrote:
plumcandy wrote:If the sea is named Sea of Japan officially and internationally, it implies territorial ownership of the area for Japan.

No, calling it the 'Sea of Japan' does not imply that it is Japanese territorial water, any more than the 'Gulf of Mexico' is Mexican territorial water, or the 'Irish Sea' is Irish territorial water. 'Sea of Japan' is the most geographically appropriate name, as it is a sea bounded by the islands of Japan. 'East Sea' gives you no geographical information at all - it could be literally anywhere in the world (the same is true of the 'North Sea', which should also really have a better name).

That's exactly what I meant when I gave the example of the Indian Sea Ocean. "Sea of Japan" sounds better, and the location is much more obvious.

Iulus Cofield wrote:I think this is a non-issue being taken advantage of by politicians.

A lot of communist countries were named republics, even though they technically weren't. Is it North Korea or South Korea involved in this dispute?

EDIT: Indian Ocean, not Indian Sea.
Last edited by farnsworth on Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:16 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:57 am UTC


That's exactly what I meant when I gave the example of the Indian Sea. "Sea of Japan" sounds better, and the location is much more obvious.


But people who are likely to use the name don't need clues about its location. That is only a concern for distant strangers. In the same way, most people involved won't be very concerned how the name sounds in English.

I mean, Nippon is about the last country in the would who could complain about the confusion of naming something 'eastern' when it's not to the east of everyone.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:59 am UTC

farnsworth wrote:Indian Sea


Indian Ocean.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby farnsworth » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:21 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:
farnsworth wrote:Indian Sea


Indian Ocean.

I just made a fool of myself in the most ironic way possible.

Zamfir wrote:But people who are likely to use the name don't need clues about its location. That is only a concern for distant strangers. In the same way, most people involved won't be very concerned how the name sounds in English.

I mean, Nippon is about the last country in the would who could complain about the confusion of naming something 'eastern' when it's not to the east of everyone.

I could argue about that being Europe-centric, but as Iulus Cofield said,
Iulus Cofield wrote:I think this is a non-issue being taken advantage of by politicians.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Steax » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:30 am UTC

Agreed - What makes me wonder is how the naming of said body of water actually determines territorial rights. Although I guess it doesn't really matter when two fishermen fight in the middle of the sea and one goes "get out of my pond, this is the stinkin' sea of JAPAN!!!!!"

On a related note, do the Koreans even have amphibious mechas to fight against Japan's army?

I'd tend towards the "sea of japan" name, though, because the islands there are clearly the more dominant boundary. It practically encloses the sea, and makes it a... sea. If Korea were to not exist, it'd just merge with the yellow sea. Weak argument, yeah, but still.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:45 am UTC

why does it need to have one name?
The English Channel is called so in England, but in France it is called La Manche (the sleeve) there's never been a dispute over it as far as i know, it just has 2 names.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Diadem » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:08 am UTC

For me this is a no brainer. There already is an East Sea. So sorry Korea, but you can't have that name.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Tirian » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:17 am UTC

Steax wrote:Agreed - What makes me wonder is how the naming of said body of water actually determines territorial rights.


Of course, it's no good talking to us lily-livered Americans who ceded so much of our shoreline to Mexico (to say nothing of Atlantis).

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby EvilDuckie » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:21 am UTC

Yeah, but the Baltic Sea is only known as "East Sea" to a few nations (I'm sure of the Dutch and Germans, though technically the Germans call it "East Lake").

Anyway, renaming the "Sea of Japan" to "East Sea" might encourage confusing it with the nearby "East China Sea". It also will make it harder to find on a map. Then again, since I'm in the business of making those, I'll let you call it whatever you want :)
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Diadem » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:26 am UTC

EvilDuckie wrote:Yeah, but the Baltic Sea is only known as "East Sea" to a few nations (I'm sure of the Dutch and Germans, though technically the Germans call it "East Lake").

It's called like that in Dutch, German and all Scandinavian languages at least. Including Finnish which is not even Germanic. Also in Old English. So the name really is quite common, even if the name Baltic Sea has won out internationally.

Also East Sea fits in much better with the theme. We already have the North Sea and (now defunct) South Sea in Northern Europe after all. The West Sea being, of course, the Atlantic Ocean itself.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Lazar » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:30 am UTC

Don't forget this one!
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Tirian » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:46 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Also East Sea fits in much better with the theme. We already have the North Sea and (now defunct) South Sea in Northern Europe after all. The West Sea being, of course, the Atlantic Ocean itself.


I think the IHO should double down and decertify the North Sea and the Mediterranean as well. An international body shouldn't be privileging one nation's geographic perspective over another.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Steax » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

Fine, from now on we refer to everything based on latitude and longitude, with 0 degrees longitude being at Gree-

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby el_loco_avs » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:24 pm UTC

Stop squabbling or we'll name it the Sea of Whiny Bitches! :mrgreen:
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Jahoclave » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

el_loco_avs wrote:Stop squabbling or we'll name it the Sea of Whiny Bitches! :mrgreen:

I'd tack a "Now shut the fuck up and play nice" onto the end of that name.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Zauderer » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

plumcandy, are you affiliated with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea?

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Роберт » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:13 pm UTC

I vote "Japanese Sea".

Zauderer wrote:plumcandy, are you affiliated with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea?

Why do I get the feeling that the wikipedia page on VANK had some VANK involvement?

Probably because it focuses so much on how evil Japan is.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Mittagessen » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:55 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:I vote "Japanese Sea".

Zauderer wrote:plumcandy, are you affiliated with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea?

Why do I get the feeling that the wikipedia page on VANK had some VANK involvement?

Probably because it focuses so much on how evil Japan is.


Now we just need a Japanese online volunteer propaganda network called FAP.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Adacore » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:49 pm UTC

Zauderer wrote:plumcandy, are you affiliated with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea?

That actually sounds fairly likely.

From a quick google, this thread was cross-posted to three other internet forums: Digital Spy 'Politics' forum, Military Photos 'Offtopic' forum, and Asia Finest 'Japanese Chat' forum.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:33 am UTC

Роберт wrote:I vote "Japanese Sea".

Zauderer wrote:plumcandy, are you affiliated with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea?

Why do I get the feeling that the wikipedia page on VANK had some VANK involvement?

lol, the founder's name is so close to the russian name for China, you just unvoice the G.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby curtis95112 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:08 pm UTC

Zauderer wrote:plumcandy, are you affiliated with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea?


If he is, he's not doing a very good job. I get annoyed at his constant barrage of threads and I'm Korean.

@plumcandy: Remember who your audience is. If you can't frame your thread material to be interesting, don't post. And get someone to help you with your English. It often strays near the realm of the unintelligible and I'm usually familiar with the news you post (through Korean news agencies).
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby AndyG314 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:20 pm UTC

The Sea of Japan is simply a more practical name because:
1) Historical inertia: Most of the world has called it the Sea of Japan for a while, changes cause confusion.
2) The islands that make of Japan are the land mass that defines the sea. If Japan weren't there we would just call that water the pacific ocean.
3) The main argument against calling it the Sea of Japan is one of implied ownership. Should we rename the Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean etc... I doubt that any serious confusion results from the name.
4) East Sea isn't a descriptive name: While the name makes sense if you live in Korea, it's obvious the sea is east of you, but if you are in Japan, the sea is to the west. If your anywhere else in the world, then the name is totally unhelpful. Generally speaking names with compass directions are unhelpful, and you will find few of them on world maps.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:35 pm UTC

The East China Sea is the only directionally named sea I can think of that makes sense globally. It is the sea east of China, the largest and most obvious place nearby.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Adacore » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:55 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:The East China Sea is the only directionally named sea I can think of that makes sense globally. It is the sea east of China, the largest and most obvious place nearby.

The South China Sea also makes a modicum of sense. It's surrounded by a number of different countries, but China, the Phillipines, Vietnam and Malaysia are by far the largest and share approximately equal amounts of coastline. I suppose China is the largest country, and Phillipine Sea (if one uses the 'islands that enclose the sea' rule) is already used for somewhere else.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Qaanol » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:21 pm UTC

South Korea should cede full sovereignty and petition to become a state in the nation of Japan.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:27 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:South Korea should cede full sovereignty and petition to become a state in the nation of Japan.

Also, if they stop calling themselves Korea then North Korea can be only Korea and thus get what they want.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby IcedT » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:44 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Qaanol wrote:South Korea should cede full sovereignty and petition to become a state in the nation of Japan.

Also, if they stop calling themselves Korea then North Korea can be only Korea and thus get what they want.

I wonder how Korea's draft and Japan's official demilitarization would mesh. Not well I'd guess.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby PeterCai » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:16 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:South Korea should cede full sovereignty and petition to become a state in the nation of Japan.

not sure if srs or just very weeaboo

On topic: it's a non-issue, japan, china, and korea will continue to call it whatever names they feel like calling it, there is no confusion on the international scale on what south sea/south china sea/sea of japan is referring to. this is just yet another example of petty nationalist politic at work.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby iChef » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:08 am UTC

I bet we can get the neocon republicans in the USA into a shitstorm about the Gulf of Mexico if we use this kind of logic. First they send their people here to sell us drugs and take our jobs now they are trying to conquer our coast line!!! Although I do kinda like this logic. Lake Michigan will allow the people in my state to all load up our fishing boats and take over Chicago.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby johnny_7713 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:54 am UTC

iChef wrote:I bet we can get the neocon republicans in the USA into a shitstorm about the Gulf of Mexico if we use this kind of logic. First they send their people here to sell us drugs and take our jobs now they are trying to conquer our coast line!!! Although I do kinda like this logic. Lake Michigan will allow the people in my state to all load up our fishing boats and take over Chicago.


The situation would be more comparable if the US had been calling it the Southern Gulf and was arguing with Mexico over ownership of a bunch of islands in the middle of it. If an international body, after several decades of not having a preference, suddenly officially goes with Gulf of Mexico that could be seen as implicitly lending support to the Mexican claims.

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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby Diadem » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:42 am UTC

I've never understood the name Gulf of Mexico anyway. Mexico hardly borders it, and certainly doesn't define it. It should be Gulf of Cuba or perhaps Gulf of Florida. Actually does the moutainish range spanning from Florida through Cuba and all those islands (ie thr border of the Gulf) have a proper name? That'd be the one to name the gulf after.
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Re: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Postby EvilDuckie » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:48 am UTC

Diadem wrote:Actually does the moutainish range spanning from Florida through Cuba and all those islands (ie thr border of the Gulf) have a proper name? That'd be the one to name the gulf after.


Mountains? Florida? The highest point in the state is only 105 meters above sea level...

Perhaps you're confusing the Gulf of Mexico with the Caribbean Sea?
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