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Korea-Japan text tiff won’t cost Virginia, senator says

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WELCOMING: State Sen. Dave Marsden says his "East Sea" bill recognizes a long-simmering controversy.

WELCOMING: State Sen. Dave Marsden says his “East Sea” bill recognizes a long-simmering controversy.

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

RICHMOND, Va. – Koreans may have bested Japan in a state Senate skirmish, but school textbook publishers will have the final word.

A long-running battle over the proper name for the Sea of Japan spilled into Virginia last week. The Senate sided with Korean activists by passing a bill authorizing the addition of their favored designation, “East Sea,” to new texts.

Victory could be fleeting, however. After the vote, Sen. Dave Marsden told Watchdog that his SB 2 is “an attempt to influence the (textbook publishing) industry.”

“If (publishers) don’t put it in, then we don’t change.” That decision could hinge on cost.

Even the slightest customization of standardized textbooks can substantially hike the price for states ordering them. Marsden pledged that his measure would have “no fiscal impact on Virginia.”

The Fairfax Democrat, whose district is home to one of the largest Korean enclaves in the United States, hopes his bill will “send a welcoming message.”

Referring to the East Sea-Sea of Japan tussle, Marsden called it “the largest geographic controversy in the world today.”

“Our (state) Standards of Learning should reflect that.”

The state Department of Education declined to comment.

Kenric Ward is chief of Watchdog’s Virginia Bureau. Contact him at kenric@watchdogvirginia.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward


Kenric Ward is the San Antonio-based reporter for Watchdog.org. A California native and veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 and has won over 30 journalism awards throughout his career. His work has been published in the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, Odessa American, The Monitor, Corsicana Daily Sun, Laredo Morning Times, Palestine Herald-Press, Waxahachie Daily Light, The Orange Leader, the Katy News, Fox News, Townhall, and others. Kenric is a member of the Investigative Reporters & Editors network and can be reached at kward@watchdog.org.