The 23rd United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)

March 2006

On March 28 (in Vienna), the delegation of ROK (Republic of Korea) brought up the issue of "Naming of the Sea of Japan" in 23rd UNGEGN which was held in UN Office in Vienna. Correspondingly, the delegation of Japan argued against ROK.

1. Japan's argument (Statement of the Representative of Japan)

(1) As a matter of principle, it is not appropriate at this meeting to discuss the issue of the naming of any particular geographical feature.
(2) The name "Sea of Japan" is internationally and historically established and has been supported and employed by the United Nations System and International Hydrographic Organization. In addition, 26 specialized agencies and other international institutions have communicated officially that they uphold the same policy as the UN.
(3) The Government of Japan has approached to some map publishers and press editors who once had offered the compromise of the simultaneous use. Almost all have accepted the Japanese position.
(4) The survey conducted by the Government of Japan on the maps possessed by the United States Library of Congress, following the previous surveys in the British Library, the University of Cambridge, and the Bibliotheque de France, again made it clear that the name of Sea of Japan became established by Europeans and Americans between the end of 18th century and the early 19th century.
(5) A dual designation would harm the interests of the international community. The pressing need for a single globally standardized name is underlined, in the wake of rapidly evolving process of globalization.

2. ROK's argument

(1) An international seminar organized by the Society for East Sea was held in Washington in October 2005.
(2) During the seminar, it was pointed that it is inappropriate to name the sea after a single country, when the sea is shared by more than one country. Another view was expressed that the dual use of "East Sea" and " Sea of Japan" should be allowed at the time when standardization seems difficult, underscoring that the name " East Sea" has been an integral part of the Korean history and people's life.

UNGEGN (UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names)

UNGEGN was established by ECOSOC Resolution 715 in 1959 as a subsidiary body of UNCSGN (UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names). It has been convened 22 times from 1967.It discusses the definition of terms, methods of nomenclature and geographical names. UNCSGN is convened once every five years (the latest 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). The next sessions of both UNCSGN and UNGEGN take place in August 2007 in New York. In addition UNGEGN has 22 regional divisions and ten working groups.

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