India’s official mapmaker does not recognise Sea of Japan, irks Tokyo

An upset Tokyo has lodged a protest with New Delhi against the Survey of India not indicating 'Sea of Japan' on its maps by that name.

India's official map-making agency, the Survey of India has omitted naming the water body in its English version, though the Hindi one calls the area 'Japan Sagar' on its maps.

A marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, lying between the Asian mainland, the Japanese archipelago and Sakhalin, it is bordered by Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea. The reason for Japan taking offence is that the name 'Sea of Japan' is a bone of contention between it and the Koreas. While Seoul prefers the name 'East Sea' to be used instead of or in addition to 'Sea of Japan', North Korea wants it called 'East Sea of Korea'.

It was last month that Japan noticed this "discrepancy" in the Survey of India's English map and brought it to the notice of the Ministry of External Affairs. They also plan to take up the matter with the Surveyor General of India. The issue is learnt to have figured during the foreign office consultations between the two countries recently.

Japan has also given documents to the MEA saying the UN recognised 'Sea of Japan' as the standard geographical term in March 2004. "The simultaneous use of both — 'Sea of Japan' and 'East Sea' — infringes on the neutrality of the UN," Japan has argued.

Tokyo has pointed out that the governments of countries such as the US, UK, France, Germany and China officially use the name 'Sea of Japan'.

Japan and the Koreas also differ over when the name was adopted. While Japan says 'Sea of Japan' has been the international standard since the early 19th century, the Koreas claim the term came to be used while Korea was under Japanese rule, and that 'Sea of Korea' or 'East Sea' were used originally.

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