Japan asking U.S. county not to teach S. Korean sea name

The Japanese government has asked a U.S. county in Maryland not to teach the South Korean name for waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula at public schools, a Japanese government official said Wednesday.

The Japanese government told the county that the Sea of Japan is the only internationally established name for the sea, but the county has not changed its policy, the official said, declining to name the county.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, Anne Arundel County told public schools to teach students the existence of a dispute over the name of the sea called the East Sea in South Korea if maps used in class only carry the name "Sea of Japan."

The county took the measure in reaction to a call by a Virginia-based group of Koreans which says the name of the Sea of Japan is a result of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

Anne Arundel is the first U.S. county to issue such an instruction to public schools, according to the group, called the Voice of Korean Americans.

The U.S. government said last year it would keep calling the waters "the Sea of Japan."

South Korea and North Korea press their case for using the name East Sea at the U.N. Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names every year while Japan says it is groundless to claim the Sea of Japan name is a vestige of its colonial rule, according to U.N. diplomatic sources.