Sea of Japan
The 8th United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (UNCSGN)

August - September 2002

The 8th UNCSGN was held in Berlin from 27 August to 5 September 2002. In its Committee III, the delegates from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) requested that names "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea" should be simultaneously used as an interim measure (DPRK also proposed the name "East Sea of Korea" to be used), contending the Sea of Japan has been given various names in the history (Note). The Japanese delegation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Geographical Survey Institute) stated their position that this conference in principle is not an appropriate forum to discuss the naming of individual geographical features. They explained that the historical facts concerning the name of the Sea of Japan were different from what was claimed by the ROK and DPRK, further concluding that the term "Sea of Japan" is an internationally established name. As a result, the proposition by the ROK and DPRK was not addressed. It was reached at the conference that efforts should be made to find a solution acceptable to all countries concerned. The Chair's summary states, "Individual countries cannot impose specific names on the international community and standardization can only be promoted when a consensus exists."


The ROK and DPRK raised the issue of the name of the Sea of Japan, for the first time in an international forum, on the occasion of the 6th UNCSGN of 1992, to which Japan objected. The similar debate took place on the occasion of the 7th UNCSGN of 1998.

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