USA: Tokyo wades into row over lessons on disputed waters

Undated file photo of a South Korean waving to a Japanese patrol boat in the Sea of Japan

A dispute over the naming of waters off the coast of Japan has flared up in US schools - nearly 7,000 miles away, it seems.

The contested body of water east of the Korean peninsular is widely known as the Sea of Japan. But South Korea calls it the East Sea and - according to Seoul's Yonhap news agency - schools in Anne Arundel Country, in the eastern US state of Maryland, were told to teach the alternative name if maps only displayed one. County education chiefs were apparently reacting to calls from Korean expats, who argued the more common name was the product of Japanese colonial rule in the early 20th Century.

Now the Japanese government has got involved, telling the county that Sea of Japan is its internationally established name, reports Tokyo's Kyodo news agency. The county was reportedly unmoved, despite the US government using only the Japanese name. South Korea says the name East Sea was used for centuries, although former president Roh Moo-hyun did propose renaming the waters Sea of Peace or Sea of Friendship in 2007. The two countries remain at loggerheads over islands - and their rich fishing grounds - within its waters.

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