The 22nd United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)

April 2004

On April 21 (in NY), the delegation of ROK (Republic of Korea) brought up the "issue of Naming of the Sea of Japan" in 22nd UNGEGN* which has been held in UN headquarters. Correspondingly, the delegation of Japan argued against ROK.

1. Japan's argument (Statement by Mr. Shigeki Sumi, Deputy Director-General, Multilateral Cooperation Department)

(1) As a matter of principle, it is not appropriate to discuss the issue of the naming of any particular geographical feature, such as the Sea of Japan, at this meeting.
(2) The name "Sea of Japan" is geographically and historically established and has long been supported and employed by the United Nations system and International Hydrographic Organization.
(3) In UN practice, "Sea of Japan" is the standard geographical term and as such is to be used in official documents of the United Nations; this has been confirmed by the UN Secretariat in a way that permits no misunderstanding.
(4) As regards UNCSGN resolution III/20 and IHO technical resolution A.4.2.6, the sea area in question does not fall under their purview and thus they do not apply.
(5) The government of Japan has protested every instance in which a map publisher, broadcasting company or newspaper publisher has used both the name "Sea of Japan" and the name "East Sea" to indicate the Sea of Japan, and almost everyone has accepted the Japanese position.
(6) Expansionism and colonialism have nothing to do with the matter. The delegation of ROK had to accept it and had no choice but to revise its argument.
(7) If an internationally established sea name were to be changed for political reasons for no valid reason, such an action would not only sow confusion in the world's geographical order but also set a terrible and dangerous precedent for generations to come.

2. ROK's argument

(1) An increasing number of renowned map publishers, broadcasting companies, newspaper companies and magazine publishers throughout the world have begun to use both names, "East Sea" and "Sea of Japan", simultaneously.
(2) It is most reasonable to use both names, "East Sea" and "Sea of Japan" simultaneously in compliance with resolution III/20 adopted by the UNCSGN as well as IHO technical resolution A.4.2.6.

*UNGEGN (UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names)

UNGEGN established on the basis of ESC Resolution 715 in 1959. It has been convened 21 times from 1967.It belongs to UNCSGN (UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names) which discusses of the definition of terms, methods of nomenclature and geographical names. It retains continuity of UNCSGN and contributes to implement resolutions adopted in UNCSGN. UNCSGN is convened once every five years (the latest conference was convened in Berlin, 2002) and UNGEGN is convened once every five years and in the middle year of UNCSGN (three times in five years). In addition, UNGEGN has 22 regional groups and nine research groups.

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