New legislation in Virginia is making an impression on Koreans as well as Virginians.
On Feb. 6, legislation passed in the state’s legislature that will require all textbooks used in public schools to have a “double designation” naming the sea between Japan and Korea as both the Sea of Japan. Governor Terry McAuliffe did not sign the bill until March 30 due to Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae’s warning about damage to the economic relationship between Virginia and Japan. In a letter, Sasae noted that Japan has directly invested a billion dollars in the state over the past five years.
Yet the law is going forward and will be enforced starting July 1. Furthermore, Korean associations established in other states like New York are also promoting joint designation legislation. Senator Toby Ann Stavisky of New York has proposed a relevant bill to the state Senate which calls for the New York City Department of Education to employ both names in textbooks that are planned to be released for the upcoming school year.
Koreans in Korea have been deeply moved by this issue.
“I believe this is a big step for both Korea and America” said Jin-hee Bae, a history teacher in a high school in Korea, to JSR.
“I can still recall my grandmother telling my siblings and I about the horrors of the time when Korea was colonized by Japan,” she continued. “The double designation of the sea seems to act as a cure for the agony and bitterness Koreans hold within themselves to this day. I hope this issue establishes a foothold for Korea to regain its true identity.”