Virginia House passes bill to use 'East Sea' name in school textsUpdated: 2014-02-07 PM 9:59:49 (KST)
Starting with the next school year, students in the U.S. state of Virginia will very likely learn that the body of water between Korea and Japan is known not only by the Japanese name "Sea of Japan" but also by the Korean name "East Sea."
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill by a wide margin of 81 to 15 on Thursday, requiring that the state education board only approve textbooks that use both names.
Virginia House District Delegate Mark Keam explained what the bill means for Koreans.
"When they open up the textbooks of their children and they saw that a map that reminds them of the repression, that reminds them of the invasion, that reminds them of that body of water that was crossed by the Japanese to come and annex that nation for 35 years"
The state House and the Senate, which approved a similar bill late last month, will now send the bill to Governor Terry McAuliffe for him to sign it into law.
During his election campaign last year, the governor spoke in favor of the Korean view and has indicated he will sign on the dotted line.
The bill will produce a seemingly minor change in school texts, but the Korean government and the large Korean-American community in Virginia are hailing the revision, as they consider the Japanese name to be a legacy of Japan's imperialistic past.
Japan had threatened to suspend investment in Virginia if the state legislature approves the bill.
"We have to celebrate the passage of the bill and be proud of our 150-thousand Korean Americans that led the victory."
This is the first time such a bill has been passed by a state legislature in the United States.
The bill also goes against the State Department's policy of only using one name, in this case, the Sea of Japan, largely for the sake of clarity.
Korean media outlets are reporting that the bill's passage will give the state's Korean-American community a stronger voice.
Hwang Ji-hye, Arirang News.
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