It has been one year since the Virginia ‘East Sea Law’ went into effect. Virginia House Bill (HB) 11 and Senate Bill (S) 2 were introduced late in 2013 to formally address Virginia’s recognition of the two names of the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. The dual names of the Sea of Japan and the East Sea have been listed in Virginia’s Standards of Learning for World Geography since 2002, but had no formal listing in standardized textbooks. However, in March 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed legislation into law that states:
Virginia school textbooks; East Sea: That all textbooks approved by the Board of Education pursuant to #22.1 -238 of the Code of Virginia, when referring to the Sea of Japan, shall note that it is also referred to as the East Sea. That the provisions of this act shall not affect any textbooks approved by the Board of Education prior to July 1, 2014. Approved and signed March 31, 2014.
In the last year, Virginia educators have been exposed to multiple online map publications showing the dual names, including maps from National Geographic and Google Maps. The Virginia Geographic Alliance has supported teacher workshops for professional development and will post lesson plans on the Alliance website. At the national level, the National Council for Geographic Education supports workshops and seminars for teachers. As school districts in Virginia adopt and purchase new textbooks, students will see both names listed. Teachers can use the East Sea/ Sea of Japan dual naming legislation as a teachable moment discussing how one physical feature, location, or historical event may be known by multiple titles.