More about History

This article intends to confirm the historical change of the names for the Sea of Japan.

Korea's assertion is summarized as follows:

I offer brief rebuttals:

Then I will provide details.

Sea of Japan

When asserting many countries used to refer to the sea as "East Sea" or "Sea of Korea," Korea uses two tricks The first trick is to handle "East Sea" the same as "Sea of Korea" to provide the illusion that the name "East Sea" was popularly accepted. By contrast with "Sea of Korea," which was often used but not overwhelming, "East Sea" was rarely adopted. Despite completely different frequencies, Korea put "East Sea" ahead of "Sea of Korea." Her intention is obvious. The second trick is to count "Oriental Sea" as "East Sea." It is because if not, no maps adopted "East Sea." Note that "Oriental Sea" was a very vague term, resulted from inadequate knowledge of East Asian geography. In fact, not a few maps show it on the East China Sea or to the south of Japan.

Contrary to Korea's claim, it is during the first half of the 19th century when Japan still kept the national isolation policy that the name Sea of Japan came to be overwhelmingly accepted. What happened at that time? From the late 18th century to the early 19th century, the northern part of the sea was revealed by celebrated western explorers such as La Pérouse and Krusenstern. It was the first time the whole shape of the sea was recognized by westerners. Then they thought the name Sea of Japan fits its geographic position. In fact, Krusenstern, wrote in his diary of the voyage, "People also call this sea area the Sea of Korea, but because only a small part of this sea touches the Korean coast, it is better to name it the Sea of Japan." (*) It is clear that the name Sea of Japan became common without Japan's political intention. At the same time, we can realize "Sea of Japan" is suitable for its geographic position.

The above-mentioned historical changes is clarified with statistical method. Look at the chart, titled "Change of the names adopted in the Foreign Maps" by Japan Coast Guard. The plain fact is proved that "Sea of Japan" became the de facto standard during the first half of the 19th century.

Even Korea's survey provides evidence that "East Sea" was not used. The following table is provided by Korea, who analyzed maps in the British National Library. (*)

Classification Total Sea of Korea East Sea Dual use of "Sea of Korea" and "East Sea" Sea of Japan Sea of China No reference
Total 90 62 8 2 10 4 4
16th 1 - - - - 1 -
17th 1 - 1 - - - -
18th 81 62 7 2 6 3 1
19th 7 - - - 4 - 3

Does this table make you think that "East Sea" was popularly used? Korea cannot use the first trick.

Korea's survey is apparently arbitrary. Virtually every map was made in the 18th century. Do the British Library have only maps made in 18th century? A nonrandom criterion was presumably applied to the collections. In any case, the conclusion that in the 19th century Japan replaced East Sea with Sea of Japan cannot be derived from the investigation of 18th century maps.

In the meantime, the second trick I explained above is used in the table too. The following table is the revised one, based on raw data.

Classification Total Sea of Korea Oriental Sea Eastern or Corea Sea East Sea Sea of Japan Sea of China No reference
Total 90 62 8 2 - 10 4 4
16th 1 - - - - - 1 -
17th 1 - 1 - - - - -
18th 81 62 7 2 - 6 3 1
19th 7 - - - - 4 - 3

After all, there is no map that designate the sea exactly as "East Sea." Korea could found only two maps, that show "The EASTERN or COREA SEA", both of which made by John Senex. In contrast, I though an amateur, can find about 20 maps that designate the East China Sea as Eastern Sea.

Korea has trouble fudging the poor result. She has no choice but applying sophistic rhetorics: The east in the Korean name East Sea uses the Chinese character signifying the sun () rising through trees (). From Korea's perspective, East Sea is compatible with nature since the sun rises from the sea in the east. It is illogical that the Japanese who give so much importance to the rising sun image of their nation attach the name of their country to the sea where the sun sets. In view of various evidence, it is believed the three terms, Orient, East and Korea are inter-related. (Hey! Do you think East and Korea are inter-related?) Do Koreans lose their minds?

Consequently by getting rid of tricks, the following facts are revealed: the name East Sea was not used, and the name Sea of Japan took root as an geographically appropriate term in the world without Japan's political pressure.