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When Google Earth added historical maps of Japan to its online collection last year, the search giant didn’t expect a backlash. The finely detailed woodblock prints have been around for centuries, they were already posted on another Web site, and a historical map of Tokyo put up in 2006 hadn’t caused any problems.

Printing such maps is legal in Japan. But it is an area where publishers and museums tread carefully, as the burakumin leadership is highly organized and has offices throughout the country. Public showings or publications are nearly always accompanied by a historical explanation, a step Google failed to take.

Two weeks later, after the public comments and at least one reporter contacted Google, the old Japanese maps were suddenly changed, wiped clean of any references to the buraku villages. There was no note made of the changes, and they were seen by some as an attempt to quietly dodge the issue.

"This is like saying those people didn’t exist. There are people for whom this is their hometown, who are still living there now," said Takashi Uchino from the Buraku Liberation League headquarters in Tokyo.
Comments2 Comments  


from StalkerB 3306 Days ago #
Votes: 1

That was a pretty interesting read, but I can’t help that feel like those angered should be doing more to remove whatever stigma is still associated with the burakumin and the government should make that kind of, well, racism illegal.While I’m probably misunderstanding some of it, surely denying these people is similar to denying the holocaust for example. Perhaps a bit extreme but by blotting out any part of history surely is not much better.What is it they actually want, just explanatory text beside these maps?

from rhcerff 3302 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Isn’t this kind of like simply removing the Apartheid element of South African History because it puts people in all kinds of light.To blanket history simply because it offends has to be the worst reason ever.  I agree with StalkerB, they should rather work on removing the stigma assocaited with the burakumin rather than trying to hide the past.Anyhow, just my $0.02 :)

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