We can be friends if you do what I say
Posted by ampontan on Thursday, January 17, 2008
HERE’S ANOTHER POST inspired by something a reader sent in: I received an e-mail from C.B. sending along a link to an article he read in the Korea Times called First Sunrise by the East Sea.
By the East Sea, the author is referring to what the rest of the world knows as the Sea of Japan.
C.B. wrote, “This part is great… “
“…it is unnatural that waters off our beautiful coast in the east should be called the Sea of Japan. It is absurd that Korea’s offshore islands should float on the surface of the Sea of Japan.”
and continued, “but this is better…”
“I have a long wish list for the New Year. Among many things, my humble but earnest wish is that the naming dispute should not get in the way of the sound development of bilateral relations between Korea and Japan in this era of globalization in which cooperation among nations for peace and co-prosperity becomes a keyword. I look forward to the day we will be able to welcome the first sunrise of the New Year by the East Sea, not by the Sea of Japan.”
C.B. concluded: “…in other words let’s co-operate and be peaceful, and let’s do it my way.”
To which I would add:
“Now, the naming dispute has erupted between Korea and Japan again.”
No dispute has erupted between Korean and Japan. The Koreans keep complaining, the Japanese keep objecting, and international bodies maintain the status quo. As I reported in this post, the international conference on geographical name standardization stuck with the Sea of Japan, and they won’t take it up again until the next conference in 2012.
…the issue involving the East Sea also carries symbolic importance for the Korean nation whose national anthem begins with the words, “East Sea.”
The anthem has so much symbolic importance there were several versions of the lyrics until 1907, and it was sung by most Koreans to the tune of Auld Lang Syne until 1948.
Furthermore, the sea area is shared by four countries: Korea, North Korea, Japan, and Russia, consisting of territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of each country. It is, therefore, inappropriate to name this area after one particular country when several countries share sovereignty and jurisdiction.
Now that you mention it, do you have any suggestions for renaming the Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean, and the English Channel?
Why are there no complaints that the East China Sea isn’t named the West Sea? Or is that just too much chutzpah, even for a Choson nationalist?
It is against this backdrop that Korea is asking the international community to use “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” simultaneously as the international standardization rules require, until the issue is settled in an amicable manner.
Or until, in what is more likely your strategy, you browbeat the rest of the world into giving in just to make you shut up and go away.
UPDATE: Reader Aceface wonders about the Northeast Asian History Foundation, because the author of the piece is identified as an “ambassador” there. Well, ask and ye shall receive!
Here’s a recent article about them from KBS Global. It says:
The Northeast Asia History Foundation, officially initiated on September 28, is…expected to play a significant role in efficiently coping with China’s recent claims over Korea’s ancient history and Japan’s repeated attempts to whitewash its past wrongdoings and its claims over the ownership of Dokdo Islet….(T)he academic foundation was established to systematically respond to those historical fabrications.
Well now, didn’t that cause your eyebrows to rise? I guess it’s easy to wax poetic about the sun rising over the East Sea when one is a paid employee of a quasi-governmental propaganda agency. Here’s their website.
While the article focuses more on China than Japan, the foundation’s website states their key programs include international exchange based on peace, strengthening their claim on Dokdo (Takeshima), developing strategies to deal with Japan’s “shift to the right”, seeking international support for the names of the East Sea and Dokdo, and “providing logical responses to history related controversies”. Good luck with the first and last one if they insist on the middle three.
Their mission statement claims they aim to achieve peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia by confronting distortions of history.
And people think I’m a lobbyist!