Textbook change to acknowledge East Sea passes the Virginia House

February 5, 2014

RICHMOND — The Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would note in new textbooks that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea.

The Virginia Senate has already passed the measure, and if the House gives final approval as expected Thursday, the bill will head to the desk of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has said he will sign it.

The issue has drawn intense interest from, among others, Japanese diplomats, Korean Americans in Northern Virginia, and McAuliffe, who promised to support the measure during his campaign but has been squeezed between that pledge and warnings that Japanese businesses in Virginia could react poorly to the move.

The issue of what to call the body of water between Japan and the Korean peninsula is particularly touchy for Korean immigrants and others who have searing memories of Japan’s invasion of Korea in the early 20th century.

Still, Del. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Richmond) said the legislature could be faced with numerous similar fights, noting that there’s a dispute over whether to call the Persian Gulf the Arabian Gulf instead. Or what if someone wanted to change the name of the Irish Sea to the English Sea? Morrissey asked.

“The answer is, it’s not our business,” he said.

Mike Laris came to Post by way of Los Angeles and Beijing. He’s written about the world’s greatest holstein bull, earth’s biggest pork producer, home builders, the homeless, steel workers and Italian tumors.
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