I got an interesting email a little while ago from a PR company working on behalf of Korean Consulate General in New York. It’s about the naming dispute over “East Sea” (東海) vs “Sea of Japan” (日本海). Here’s the body of the email:
_"The Republic of Korea is asking the US government and map publishers to use the name "East Sea" together with the "Sea of Japan" when referring to the body of water located between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago, over which both Japan and Korea have jurisdiction. This body of water has been called East Sea for over 2,000 years – you can read the historical background here: [http://bit.ly/EastSeaMaps](http://bit.ly/EastSeaMaps)_ _Why is this important?_ - _When dealing with matters of diplomacy, a name reflects how a country is viewed._ - _Support for Korea's position is gaining momentum among many internationally respected cartographers and the media. National Geographic, Rand McNally, The Economist, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and Le Monde have all begun using both names concurrently._ - _Other evidence of growing support for Korea’s position includes a vox populi petition to the White House with more than 100,000 signatures, and a vote at an international organization's recent conference that denied Japan's proposal to use only the Sea of Japan name."_
Read more at: http://bit.ly/EastSea
Personally I do think naming it the East Sea (東海) is by far the most reasonable approach. The diplomacy around this kind of issue can really be so just childish. Giving it a comprise name seems such an obvious solution. No other option is going to suit every party as equally. I’m actually surprised the South Korean government isn’t going the whole way and just asking people to call it the East Sea outright. Perhaps they’re doing this as a preliminary step.
It seems like whenever there’s a stretch of water between two countries there’ll be a dispute about the name of it. In this case it’s actually four countries - South Korea, North Korea, Japan and Russia - so a neutral name like East Sea would be even more appropriate.