Google Maps naming policy prompts Japan to request home page bans


The government has asked local authorities and state-run universities not to post maps provided by Google Inc. on their websites because some of them include foreign place names that undermine Japan’s territorial claims, sources said Saturday.

In dispute are the South Korean-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in the South, the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea claimed by China as Diaoyu and by Taiwan as Tiaoyutai, and four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido referred to by Japan as the Northern Territories and by Russia as the Southern Kurils.

Japan is involved in disputes over the sovereignty of each of these territories, and is also battling South Korean efforts to have the Sea of Japan renamed the East Sea.

“Some registrations in the electronic maps on the home pages are incompatible with Japan’s stance,” the government said in notices earlier this year, according to the sources.

Google says it tries to act in accordance with the positions of each state and to provide fair information, while declining to comment on individual cases.

While the government recommends that public organizations use maps compiled by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, it is not clear they are complying, since Google’s maps are apparently more convenient.

  • Guest

    “Some registrations in the electronic maps on the home pages are
    incompatible with Japan’s stance [that, thought completely ridiculous and blatantly ignoring reality, no territorial dispute exists],” the government said in notices
    earlier this year, according to the sources.

  • This is bizarre government policy. Its a form of coercion attacking Google for using certain arbitrary place names. The validity of any competing land claims to these islands is a matter of evidence, not ‘name calling’. How childish for the government to do this. Its not the role of Google to decide political policy, or to anticipate court outsomes. Of course Google with side with Japan to protect its market share; but is that the way people want the issue resolved. I’d vote for another party if extortion is their modus operandi.

    • tennesseetuxedo59

      if china said it owned New Jersey America would rightfully be pissed if they called it a chinese name on google. china’s refused to go to court and tried threats instead i dont blame Japan at all

  • WithMalice

    Because… the “ostrich approach” always works, huh?
    Interesting to see that in some ways, “Isolationist Japan” still exists.

  • pervertt

    Dispute? What dispute? There is NO dispute.

  • Ben Snyder

    Clarification: by “government” and “sources say” who are we talking about specifically? I am not questioning whether this is the position of the Japanese government, only that I don’t see anyone taking responsibility for and standing by it. The local authorities and state-run websites targeted by this request (?) are designed for local consumption, so what this really seems to reflect is the central government’s concern that ordinary Japanese people may be increasingly exposed to the possibility that a territorial issue exists.
    As Mr. Sheldon commented, this indeed bizarre, as anyone in Japan who is not yet aware of the issue is likely to be a young, sheltered, college-age student who has either a) already been inculcated with their parents’ conservative viewpoint, or b) recognized the futility of their disenfranchised demographic, and conceded the vast majority of voting to people over 65, as the past several elections (at least) have indicated. The central government already won, what exactly are they afraid of? After the failure of the DPJ post-Fukushima, we have proven that it takes more than a lingering disaster of unprecedented scale to mobilize young voters to challenge them.

  • Kochigachi

    How this different from China’s policy to ban Google/Yahoo over Tienanmen Square massacre.

  • Peter C. Huang

    Dotdo(独岛) vs Takeshima(竹岛)–A response of Japanese government angry over the Google Map uses 独岛 for 竹岛.
    The Korean character pronunciations have some the same as Taiwanese, such as 金, Kim (mandarin, jin);熙, hi (mandarin,xi); so are 竹, dot, and 独,(mandarin, zhu and du) and 岛,do (mandarin, dao). Hence forming 竹岛, dotdo, or 独岛.
    The Korean may use 竹 for 独 but it would be mixed with Japanese uses it, Hence Korean uses 独 for 竹. At present, the island is occupied by Korean and its name is 独岛, Dotdo, That is why Google Map uses 独岛 instead of Japan names that island as 竹岛,Takeshima. Japan put 竹岛 into its map in 1905 when won over Nippon-Russo war in 1905 and got southern part of Sakarin from Russia. 竹岛 is between Japan and Kuril in Japanese Sea, the name opposed by Russia. Then 1911 Japan put Korea into its map. Korean insists that island belonged to Korea in history. After World War II Japan was expelled out from occupied territory that is why Korea took over it. Then Russia occupied four islands from Japan, north to Hokkaido and America occupied Okinawa. Japan also expelled from Kuril, Korea, Taiwan, and Chinese northeast provinces.

    • Nevin Thompson

      What I want to know is why South Korea is so sensitive about the name used on Google Maps when South Korea already occupies the islands.