At its regular session on [Jan.] 23, the Virginia Senate voted 32-4 in favor of a bill to alter the state's public school textbooks. What was previously known as the “Sea of Japan” will now also be called the “East Sea,” a label advocated by the Korean government. Such a course of events gives the impression that Korea hijacked this local assembly and is using it as a proxy to force their government's one-sided claims.
At the assembly hall just before the session, the person introducing this bill, Senator Richard Black (R), said with a smile, “It's a very good state of affairs.”* His look declared that he was sure of success. As the results were read, there was an overwhelming majority in the bill's favor. Once again, Korean-American organizations have demonstrated their ability to penetrate Congress.
Senator Chap Petersen (D), whose wife is Korean, supported the bill. He emphasized, “My father-in-law grew up under Japanese occupation. During that time, place names were also changed to Japanese. It was in that context that the name 'East Sea' was changed.”*
Senator Black stressed, “The International Hydrographic Organization decided on the name 'Sea of Japan' in 1929, which was during the period when Korea was under the forced occupation of Japanese militarism. At that time in Korea, there was no right to speak.”* This is nothing more than serving as a mouthpiece for the Korean government's claim that “the name ‘Sea of Japan’ has been perpetuated as a result of Japan's principles of expansion and colonial rule.”*
At the meeting of the Virginia Senate on Jan. 23, “Sea of Japan” and “East Sea” were not the only labels discussed. Other mentions included “South China Sea” and “West Philippine Sea,” the latter having been introduced by the government of the Philippines. The assembly also voted on an amendment that proposed finding a way to handle the contention over naming this area. However, the majority voted against this amendment and it was rejected.
Senator Donald McEachin (D), the man who proposed the amendment, said, “We must exercise great caution in handling the dispute over this name. We should gather all the options together at one time.”*
One objection to the amendment came from Senator Janet Howell (D), who stated, “With the exception of Korea, I haven't heard any requests relating to a dispute over this name.”* Senator Black also objected, noting, “There is nothing stronger than the U.S.-Korea alliance. We will stand on the side of Koreans and Korean-Americans.”*
The American government supports the single designation “Sea of Japan.” This conflict between nations was apparently brought only to this one local council.
The American newspaper Washington Post published a critical article in response to Japan's actions in this matter. The embassy of Japan in the U.S. hired lobbyists from a Richmond law firm, and on [Jan.] 22 the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Kenichiro Sasae, paid a simple courtesy visit to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. The newspaper reported that Japan was a foreign government interfering in the affairs of (Korean-) Americans.
However, the actions of the Japanese government are being unfairly criticized due to Korean organizations (which appear to have ties to the Korean government) influencing prominent American lawmakers. It appears that “brainwashing” is also a part of the media experience.
*Editor’s Note: These quotes, accurately translated, could not be verified.