Virginia governor signs East Sea bill despite Japan's objections

The governor of the U.S. state of Virginia has signed into law a bill requiring school textbooks to note that the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, commonly known as the Sea of Japan, are also referred to as the East Sea.

Virginia is believed to be the first state to mandate the change, lobbied for by Korean-Americans who argue that the term Sea of Japan is an artifact of Japan's past colonialism.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed the bill on Monday, according to the website of Virginia's General Assembly. It will take effect on July 1.

The governor made the decision despite the objections of the Japanese government, which attempted to convince Virginia's legislators that Sea of Japan is the only internationally recognized name for the waters.

The Virginia State Senate passed the bill in January and an overwhelming number of lower house legislators followed suit in February.

The law requires textbooks approved by the state board of education to include the term "East Sea" next to "Sea of Japan".

Korean-American groups are pushing similar legislation in New York and New Jersey.

The U.S. federal government has supported the use of the term "Sea of Japan" without reference to "East Sea."