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Google Earth Raises Discrimination Issue In Japan 457

Posted by kdawson
from the outsourcing-the-risk-and-appropriating-the-benefit dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Times (UK) reports that by allowing old maps to be overlaid on satellite images of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Google has unwittingly created a visual tool that has prolonged an ancient discrimination, says a lobbying group established to protect the human rights of three million burakumin, members of the sub-class condemned by the old feudal system in Japan to unclean jobs associated with death and dirt. 'We tend to think of maps as factual, like a satellite picture, but maps are never neutral, they always have a certain point of view,' says David Rumsey, a US map collector. Some Japanese companies actively screen out burakumin-linked job seekers, and some families hire private investigators to dig into the ancestry of fiances to make sure there is no burakumin taint. Because there is nothing physical to differentiate burakumin from other Japanese and because there are no clues in their names or accent, the only way of establishing whether or not they are burakumin is by tracing their family. By publishing the locations of burakumin ghettos with the modern street maps, the quest to trace ancestry is made easier, says Toru Matsuoka, an opposition MP and member of the Buraku Liberation League. Under pressure to diffuse criticism, Google has asked the owners of the woodblock print maps to remove the legend that identifies the ghetto with an old term, extremely offensive in modern usage, that translates loosely as 'scum town.' 'We had not acknowledged the seriousness of the map, but we do take this matter seriously,' says Yoshito Funabashi, a Google spokesman." The ancient Japanese caste system was made illegal 150 years ago, but silent discrimination remains. The issue is complicated by allegations of mob connections in the burakumin anti-discrimination organizations.
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Google Earth Raises Discrimination Issue In Japan

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  • Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:50PM (#28076545)

    Most tools can be used for discrimatory purposes. Just because I buy a Ford at a used car dealership over an indistinguishable GM (because I like then better) doesn't mean the dealership should get blamed.

    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488) <jurily.gmail@com> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:55PM (#28076591)

      Most tools can be used for discrimatory purposes.

      Maybe we should outlaw photographs because it shows skin color.

      Oh, and grammar, because the word "color" is discriminating to the colourful British.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:48PM (#28077041)

        What with all the white trash that inhabits them. I'm all for integration, but I stop short on trailer/white trash. Call me an anti-trailer trash bigot, but that's how I was learned, and I growed up on this way of thinking. They be in the trailer parks, and that's where they should stay, them and their children's children's children.

      • Don't forget Canadians as they spell it the correct way too and are more likely to run into an American who spells it color.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jurily (900488)

          Don't forget Canadians as they spell it the correct way too and are more likely to run into an American who spells it color.

          If 300 million people agree "color" is correct, it is correct. Just ask the question: for whom?

      • by zoomshorts (137587) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:57PM (#28077511)

        Humanitarian Aid to all countries. We are reducing the number
        of extra vowels used by many English speaking countries in
        their spelling, and are saving them up for an air drop over
        Poland, a country which is in desperate need of vowels.

        Who says America does not care?

      • by Geof (153857) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @08:27PM (#28078937) Homepage

        Maybe we should outlaw photographs because it shows skin color.

        Funny you should pick that example. When film was being developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, there was a problem: it was difficult to make photographs that showed both light- and dark-colored faces effectively.

        When there are two persons in [a] scene, . . . if one has dark make-up and the other light, much care must be exercised in so regulating the light that it neither "burns up" the light make-up nor is of insufficient strength to light up the dark make-up.[1]

        The white face was taken as the essential image that film had to capture effectively, and a lot of technical effort went into developing film stock that showed the white face well. "Exact reproduction" produced a "beefy" look, so the film was modified accordingly[2].

        In other words, if black people had developed film, film would look different and have have different chemical characteristics from what we have today. You cannot just point to the technology and say it is "neutral", to be used for good or bad purposes. During its development, the creators of every technology encounter choices that cannot be made solely on technical grounds. Those decisions always end up embedding human values - as does the technology that results.

        Here's another story I read somewhere. Early computers could only represent uppercase or lowercase letters. The first choice of the technicians was to go with lowercase, because that is much easier to read. But this was overruled: because then God would not start with an uppercase letter. Now whether this particular story is true or false (it sounds too neat to me), it is certainly representative of how many technical choices are made.

        As for the burakumin, I once spoke to a Japanese woman about them. She had married an American and was living in the U.S., but she said that she would certainly never have considered a relationship with one. Not because she herself was prejudiced, but because doing so would place her outside mainstream Japanese society. We have heard this before. If you haven't, I recommend watching the film Gentleman's Agreement. I won't claim I know the best solution for Google in this particular case, but a knee-jerk response of "technology has no values" brings us no closer to any kind of truth, and represents a failure to understand our relationship to technology.

        [1, 2] The quotes above are by Frederick Mills and Dvaid L. MacAdam respectively, quoted in the article "Making 'white' people white" by Richard Dyer, 1997.

    • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:11PM (#28076713)
      Well, the article does argue that it simply "raises" this issue, not that it causes it or somehow makes it worse. It's an interesting juxtaposition of an ancient stupidity and a modern wonder.
      • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:36PM (#28076933) Homepage Journal

        Ancient stupidity? Sounds to me like the problem is it's still a CURRENT stupidity.

        • You might note how just about every religion, most known the Hindu faith, but also islam, prescribe a caste based society. Judaism [wikipedia.org], Buddhism [bbc.co.uk] (search "despite this" to skip the excuses section, this is the bbc, after all), and the Japanese faiths by large also include slavery. But no religion is quite as pro-slavery as islam, especially contemporary islam.

          Christianity started out as a religion amongst Roman slaves and was very opposed to the slave system from day one.

          The Hindu caste system [wikipedia.org]. This system exist

          • by Bake (2609) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:42PM (#28077399) Homepage

            As much as I don't agree with Iran's policy towards Israel, I must object to Iran being explicitly anti-Jewish.
            Their gripe is with the state of Israel and not Jews. Calling a country that is home to the second-largest Jewish population in the Middle East (largest of course being Israel), and where Jews are explicitly protected by the consitution, as being anti-Jewish is prejudice at best.

          • by Supurcell (834022) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#28077455)
            Thomas Jefferson was not alive during civil war; or after, though that may change someday.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:36PM (#28077831)

            I'm afraid I must disagree with what is a highly selective reading of history and theology.

            Christianity was not "anti-slavery" from day one. In fact Paul explicitly condones the practice of slavery, telling a run-away slave (Onesimus) to go back to his master (Philemon). Now he does tell the master not to mistreat or abuse his slaves, but Paul is handed an opportunity on a platter to condemn slavery and he quite explicitly refuses to do so.

            When abolition was being debated, it was generally the pro-slavery people who were seen as have the strict biblical view, and the anti-slavery people who were seen as representing a more liberal, progressive, interpretative version of Christianity. (Similar to gay marriage today?)

            Historically it was Islam that was known for tolerance of non-believers, to the extent that many regions of the Byzantine Empire preferred to surrender to Muslim invaders who would largely tolerate whatever brand of Christianity they practiced rather than their Christian overloads who were endlessly persecuting minority sects because of differences over the interpretation of the Holy Trinity, and Arianism etc.

            From the persecutors' perspective, is it not better to cut off one's hand than to allow it to sin? Why allow a heretical sect to potentially lead orthodox Christians into false beliefs and so condemn them to hell? On the Muslim side, the Quoran says "Let there be no compulsion in religion". They saw all Christian sects as being equally misguided but protected by Islamic law as people trying to worship the right god at least.

            On the other hand there are many stories of Saladin in particular as being the model for the later medieval concept of knightly chivalry. And as far as antisemitism goes, the history of the Crusades does not particularly bolster your theory that Christianity is all about peaceful coexistence and respect for those with different religious views whereas Islam is all about killing people. Both sides committed what we would see as atrocities, but instances of mercy and kindness to the conquered are more plentiful on the Muslim side than the Christian.

            I am neither Christian nor Muslim. From what I've seen and from what I've read no religion (or atheism, or metaphysical quasi-religions such as the Marxist dieletic) has a monopoly on good or evil. Certainly your view of Islam as being intrinsically evil and backwards might be tenable if you look at the last 300 years (when most of the Muslim world hasn't done much) but when you take a longer view the result is very different.

            • by giorgist (1208992) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @07:29PM (#28078617)
              Amm ... fair enough and Gengis han let you live and go about your relegion but slaughtered you if you opposed him. Standard tactic applied by the Spartans. If you oppose, we will not stop unless your are all dead. If you run away, we will not chase you. Works very well in wars ...

              As for the Christians living in Muslim societies

              1. The Muslims regularily taxed Christians for their faith

              2. Converting to the Christian faith (from a Mulsim) is punishable by death

              3. Mulsim man marying a Christian Woman is OK so long as kids are Mulsim

              4. Mulsim woman marying a Christian man is punishable by death ...

              Think of it like game theory. These rules made sure you win battles and you spread Islam most effectively.
          • by centuren (106470) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @07:14PM (#28078515) Homepage Journal

            You might note how just about every religion[...]

            I wish I had mod points, as this long and bizarre invention of history has to be one of the funniest posts I've read on Slashdot in ages. Whether it's a skilled troll or a "selectively informed" and passionate individual, the gaping omissions, obvious contradictions, and glaring historical inaccuracies contrast the serious and informative tone quite well.

            For the tl;dr crowd, some highlights:

            - Christianity is the ONLY religion to oppose slavery from the start, however citations about religion and slavery conveniently omit those in the New Testament [religioustolerance.org].

            - American Civil War lead to the Barbary Wars through some sort of time vortex, and 19th Century piracy is now referred to as "terrorism"

            - Through a super time vortex, Thomas Jefferson was around in this Civil War period, and "created" the American Marines after having purchased and read a Koran

            - Iran is "just about the most open Muslim nation"

            - There is only one existing secular Muslim country

            - Christianity is known for it's non-violent approach to non-believers (from it's inception to present day, I assume)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dargaud (518470)

            Note that EVERY major religion EXCEPT Christianity actively encourages the subjugation or extermination of non-believers in one form or another.

            Hmmm... and yet, catholics strived to eliminate all competition from the countries they controlled (only the Jewish religion managed to survive, all others were wiped out of middle-age Europe). Contrast that with moslem countries where you have jews, christians, Zoroastrians... Or even better India where hinduism, jainism, buddhism, sikhism and ayyavazhi sometimes share the same temples.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by shanen (462549)

            Are you a troll, or a sincere idiot?

            In either case, I feel compelled to say something nice about /., since the rating system left you invisible to me. I only stumbled across your post by the replies. If you're a troll, you're evidently a mighty troll.

            Unfortunately, I don't care. In either case, my only request is that you designate me as a foe so I'll have an even lower chance of seeing you in the future.

            My qualifications to be your foe? Well, first of all, I'm highly educated, including a degree in history

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      No, but if you buy a car and it arrives with "Nigger" on the license plate, because Ford bought random license plates from a racist company, then Ford (amongst others, including the individuals who chose that plate) should probably be blamed.

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:44PM (#28077001) Homepage Journal

      Knowledge is knowledge. How a bunch of inbred tribals use that knowledge isn't the responsibility of the people who discover and/or make it available.

      The Japanese have a problem with discrimination, not Google, not the web, and not the United States. Let Japan solve the problem, don't make it a Google problem, a web problem, or a United States problem.

      • Knowledge is knowledge. How a bunch of inbred tribals use that knowledge isn't the responsibility of the people who discover and/or make it available.

        The Japanese have a problem with discrimination, not Google, not the web, and not the United States. Let Japan solve the problem, don't make it a Google problem, a web problem, or a United States problem.

        It is true that racism is ultimately a problem with the racist. However, that doesn't mean there's not any issue here. The maps Google is using use what is apparently a racial slur to describe these areas.

        That's probably unintentional, and I doubt they had any idea that the term was a slur. However, if it was brought to Google's attention that a map overlay in America referred to certain areas as "nigger ghettos", do you think people wouldn't expect Google to find a map that didn't use such terms, even if their use of that map was through oversight rather than malice?

  • Can't be google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:51PM (#28076551)

    Surely the problem is with the discrimination within the Japanese people and has nothing to do with Google.
    There is no difference between a person from one linage to another other than maybe their name and genetic make up.
    Just because their great great great grandfather might have killed people for a living doesn't mean that the person applying for a job now is strange in some way.

    It is obviously an old custom which is not equal and fair into days society thus the problem is not with Google.

    • Re:Can't be google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:36PM (#28076929)

      Yah, I read this article as: "Japanese people are racist (classist, I guess), and it's somehow Google's fault."

      But really, is this a surprise to anybody? The least-diverse country in the world in racist! Shocking!

      • In ancient Japan, anything to do with death, or other unclean jobs like leatherworkers, was taboo. People who did those things had to live in separate villages. Nowadays, people don't know where most of those ghettos were. Google published a series of scholarly maps that show where they are, now people can easily trace families back to these areas because Japanese family registration was fixed to ancestral address until recently.

        It's like these areas are cursed to the Japanese, even if everyone's forgotten where they were, and any family originally from the area is tainted by that curse, no matter what that family has done since.

    • by rve (4436)

      Just because their great great great grandfather might have killed people for a living doesn't mean that the person applying for a job now is strange in some way.

      That's right! Unless they have blood type O, of course.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:53PM (#28076561)
    What Japan needs is some enlightment that can only come with a few episodes of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs. Watching Mike Rowe trying to shovel disgusting refuse from a leatherworking facility is not only entertaining, it teaches that those jobs are A) pretty difficult to learn and B) fundamentally necessary for civilization to continue!
    • by trytoguess (875793) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:28PM (#28076853)

      Um... no. The fact that a job is difficult, or necessary doesn't somehow make people more respective. Notice the lack of respect for blue collar jobs in our own culture (and probably Japan as well).

      • by Supurcell (834022) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:14PM (#28077639)
        You mean how we enshrine our(American) blue collar workers as the heroes in almost all our action movies? We spin tales of steel workers, lumberjacks, beat cops, butchers, plumbers and mechanics rising above their station and making things better for themselves and their families. There is a great respect for people who work with their hands and actually have useful skills that apply to the real world. They don't just fill out TPS reports and file worthless paperwork, they can fix their own car, build their own house, and dispense their own brand of justice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      What Japan needs is some enlightment that can only come with a few episodes of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs.

      Only a Westerner would think that another culture needs some "enlightenment" that is conveniently delivered via a media program with a Western perspective.

      • Well, there are some truths that we as a species have recognized irregardless of culture ( equality of men, human rights, ect, ect) and enshrined in various declarations of the multinational United Nations. While it may be slightly naive to think that a particular product of one culture would automatically solve a problem in another, it is also slightly naive to believe it would automatically fail, and down right absurd and categorically wrong to say that the target culture is not in need of enlightenment t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ultranova (717540)

        Only a Westerner would think that another culture needs some "enlightenment" that is conveniently delivered via a media program with a Western perspective.

        True enough. Based on the history of Imperial Japan, they would deliver said enlightenment at gunpoint. Ask their neighbours about the details, the Japanese themselves seem to dislike talking about their glorious deeds for some strange reason.

        I'm really getting tired of this West-bashing. While it is indeed unlikely that a Discovery Channel special will

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:53PM (#28076567)

    If your solution to a problem is, "We need less truth" then you are probably trying to solve the wrong problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 4D6963 (933028)

      Well, when it comes to employment discrimination, it seems that allowing the less of such information to be known to anyone involved in the chain of employment is desirable.

      I mean it's easier to judge applicants for their qualifications when it's all you see than when you're told that one is a young married white Presbyterian from Connecticut and the other is an old transsexual black-hispanic communist Nation of Islam-muslim from the South Bronx.

    • Damn, that's about the most insightful thing I've seen on Slashdot in a while. Too bad you posted AC.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:54PM (#28076573)

    Every society has its pariahs. Japan has few immigrants, so they can't just look down to Mexicans, Turks or whatever pariah-immigrant group you might have in your country.

    It seems to be part of human nature that we need someone to look down at, to make us feel better about ourselves. Akin to "well, I'm not that good, but HE is WAY worse off". I'm not saying that it should be that way, mind you, I hope we can eventually overcome this flaw and compare ourselves against those that achived more, not less, but I find it time and again in people.

    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      Every society has its pariahs. Japan has few immigrants

      Which are pariahs.

    • calls it sin. See Gospel of Luke, New Testament, chapter 18:9-4. One of the ways we avoid looking at our own sin is to focus on other people's sin.
    • Case in point; Geeks and (l)users.

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:55PM (#28076583) Homepage

    History is ugly. It's full of all the crappy things we did, and exists in part as a document to study so we can try and improve. "Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it", but if the ugly parts are expunged, then we are erasing exactly what's needed to avoid recurrence.

    Also, all oppression begins with "We must do this to protect the innocent". Whether the darkest part of the oppression comes a month later at the hands of the current controlling authority or a century later as a result of ignorance, it still exists and is the inevitable result of censorship.

    • by xs650 (741277) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:21PM (#28077255)
      "Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it"

      That's what my High School US History teacher used to say.
  • Reasons (Score:4, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @02:57PM (#28076601)
    I am surprised that the "employee at a large, well-known Japanese company" was not asked *why* are they doing that. They consider it normal, alright. I know that, since I knew the problem existed even in 1980's. But I am much more interested why are Eta/Burakumin/Shinheimin/whoever treated this way by people who cannot possibly remember the Edo period.
    • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:03PM (#28076649)

      But I am much more interested why are Eta/Burakumin/Shinheimin/whoever treated this way by people who cannot possibly remember the Edo period.

      For the same reason that african american citizens still get regularly handed hateful scorn by racist morons who clearly weren't alive before the Emancipation Act?

      • by houghi (78078)

        For the same reason that african american citizens still get regularly handed hateful scorn by racist morons who clearly weren't alive before the Emancipation Act?

        Or by naming the whole group after a continent one of their ancestors came from.
        Just out of curiosity, how do you call a person who has three white and one black grand parent?

        • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:35PM (#28076923) Journal

          Just out of curiosity, how do you call a person who has three white and one black grand parent?

          How about 'American'? I can't be the only one that is sick of the practice of identifying ourselves based on our racial background. If I wanted to I could call myself a Polish/German/Jewish/Native/English-American. Why I would do that when those connections are generations old is beyond me. I'm an American. Plain and simple.

          • Re:Reasons (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anubis350 (772791) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:12PM (#28077201)
            Heard a story once, don't remem where, but it was related to me basically as follows:

            My grandparents came to American from the old country, they called themselves Italians, America was their new home, but they were still of the old country, they still spoke the old language, english was only for use when they had no choice, and it was broken and incomplete.

            My parents were born here, to their italian sires. They were Italian-Americans, of Italy, but distinctly American. They spoke Italian fluently, and tried to use it was much as possible to maintain their heritage.

            I am here, third generation, American-Italian. I still trace my roots, but I am an American. I speak a few words of italian, a few sentances. I can understand most of what is spoken to me. I am of my parents lineage, but English is my native tongue.

            My children are Americans. They know where their family roots are, but they do not draw much of their primary culture from it. They know a couple Italian curse words, a couple pieces of slang.


            My girlfriend's family is actually italian, and that describes them to a T. In my own family, even with a bit more diverse roots it's true too. It takes a long time for culture to amalgamate, longer still when groups are (either voluntarily or not) isolated and/or discriminated against.
        • by bughunter (10093)
          In the US South? 'Colored.'
        • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3@noSPAm.phroggy.com> on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:13PM (#28077211) Homepage

          I once saw a black man complain about being called "African-American"; he was a citizen of the UK whose family had immigrated from Jamaica or Haiti or something. He has no objection to being called "black", but considers himself neither African nor American, and finds that label offensive.

        • And it's not even correct since not all black people come from Africa and there are white people who are Africans.

          Factor in the knowledge that some Jamaicans hate Africans and vice versa, the term can be quite offensive to some.

          And as many people have pointed out it separates people and implies they're not as American as someone who's just American.

          Political correct terms are just there to imply it's ok to divide people into groups but only with their fucked up terms. I you need to point out that s
        • by deraj123 (1225722)

          Just out of curiosity, how do you call a person who has three white and one black grand parent?

          Depends...what's his name?

      • You cannot possibly recognize these people with certainty in any other way than by going through their genealogy six or eight generations back. In a certain way, I find it slightly more disturbing that companies are doing this and feel that it's okay than the fact that there are a few melanine-challenged shitheads out there always ready to beat people with advantageous solar skin adaptations, especially if the latter are frowned upon and treated as what they are by the rest of the society. In Japan, it seem
      • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

        by that IT girl (864406) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:43PM (#28076997) Journal
        But this goes both ways too -- people should neither hate NOR grovel about the past. Just drop it. Don't deny someone their rights, but don't overdo it swinging the other direction too far either. Racism in both 'negative' (hate, denying people a job, etc) and 'positive' (slave reparations, affirmative action, etc) ways are still bad in that they take race into account at all. As long as people MAKE race an issue, it will be one. Saying someone is different because they are white or black or red or yellow is the same as saying my car is different from yours, or performs better, or is more reliable, because it's a different colour. It makes no sense.
        • by Kozz (7764)

          This reminds me of a 100-level Sociology course I took my freshman year in college. In class I was trying to tell my professor that there are both "negative prejudice" and "positive prejudice" (notice I didn't say "bad" and "good"). He had a tenuous grasp on his native English language it seems, as he told me I was completely wrong.

          Being a naive freshman, I found a book in the campus library that said (essentially) the same thing and brought it to his attention. I don't think he liked me very much after

        • As long as people MAKE race an issue, it will be one.

          That is a good point, and true, but to quote George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
          It's hard to remember our past, while simultaneously moving on from it. Sometimes the horrors of the past act as motivation to move forward, but at the same time they give ideas to those who want to return to the ways of the past. It's just something that needs to be dealt with, same as any complex problem.

          • In this case, I think it'd be a great idea to forget that any of that happened. The world is a different place than it was a century or two ago: we are international; people from all parts of the world travel to and live in all other parts, and folks from all races have contributed to what we have today. So yes, I think we could consider racism to be an antiquated concept, and one that would be very difficult to repeat if we really shifted our thinking to not let race influence how we see a person, or be th
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      this is japan remember, the place where blood type pseudo science and other rampant nonsense are seen as perfectly reasonable and evil foreigners have to go through hell to even have a chance at buying a house (good luck getting a loan) its the most racist and discriminating culture in the industrialized world so this doesn't really come as a suprise at all just another quirk in their culture.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because there is nothing physical to differentiate burakumin from other Japanese

    Is there anything physical to differentiate any Japanese from any other Japanese?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 4D6963 (933028)
      Yep, there are some small ethnic groups which look very distinct from other East Asian peoples, such as the Ainu people who, if anything, look more like Finns than anything else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gujo-odori (473191)

      Actually, yes. Ainu (at least if they are full-blooded) do look different. Ainu are the indigenous population of Japan, before the arrival of the Yamato Japanese (what we (and they) generally think of as "Japanese" today). They also speak a different language, although even in Hokkaido, where most of the remaining Ainu live, the Ainu language is at least threatened if not outright endangered.

      Beyond that, there is tremendous variation in the way Japanese look (yes, I get the joke, but still). Some look very

      • "Beyond that, there is tremendous variation in the way Japanese look (yes, I get the joke, but still)."

        This is really obvious to anyone who's taken a look. I admit it, I'm bad at distinguishing faces of people with other ethnicities than mine (I'm actually pretty lousy at my own ethnicity too!), but japanese? Except for hair and eye colour, they look just as varied as us to my unsophisticated eyes.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:10PM (#28076695) Journal

    So, if a hammer is used to build a cross that the KKK burn on someone's front yard, the hammer is "enabling" racist pigs? I guess white sheets and fire enable racism too?

    Please.

    Google Maps is a map. If some racist/classist/hidebound Japanese use it for perpetuating reactionary stupid stereotypes, how is Google at fault?

    SLOW NEWS DAY, +1

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 4D6963 (933028)

      So, if a hammer is used to build a cross that the KKK burn on someone's front yard, the hammer is "enabling" racist pigs?

      A more accurate analogy would be a map with some areas of it indicated by "HERE BE NIGRAS".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by butlerm (3112)

        Such grammar understates how formal and regularized the Japanese feudal system was. These were formal government maps.

        In addition, no one needs a map to discriminate on the basis of race - the map is controversial because it expedites discovering a likely lower class heritage that would otherwise be lost to history. The equivalent in the U.S. would be discrimination against whites based on birth or heritage in rural and undeveloped areas of the South, or to a lesser degree what is often termed "flyover cou

    • by Zorque (894011) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @04:02PM (#28077125)

      So I'm assuming you knew all about the burakumin before reading the story, and were already sympathetic to their plight. Google helped the outside world to understand a social wrong occurring in a civilized country where it shouldn't be happening, I'm not sure how that counts as a slow news day.

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Altima(BoB) (602987) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:10PM (#28076711)

    One of the main things a map communicates is the relationship that the landscape of our world has with human beings, as such it will always be, on some level, an observation or a statement about people almost more than landscape. When you think about it, the first human imposed addition to any map, borders and walls, are just demarcations of division. Once you have these on a map it doesnt take long for the mere annotation or position of these to be the catalyst for violent conflict (look at the India / Pakistan border commission in the 40s, a line on a map drawn by a man who had never been there resulting in the deaths of millions, or the status of israel in western maps versus palestine in middle eastern maps)

    It really shouldnt be surprising that google earth has caused some controversy, they already label Taiwan as a province of the People's Republic of China, so they have already made political statements with the program

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:13PM (#28076727)

    At least now the bone-headed practice of this discrimination is known by the outside world, and the appropriate amount of scorn, ridicule, and disapproval can be heaped on the superstitious throw-back practitioners of the discrimination.

    Companies and governments from elsewhere could check whether this practice is occurring, and blacklist Japanese companies that are shown to practice this human-rights violation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24, 2009 @03:19PM (#28076771)

      "Companies and governments from elsewhere could check whether this practice is occurring, and blacklist Japanese companies that are shown to practice this human-rights violation."

      It would be much easier to do this if there was a Google map to show us who we should discriminate against.

  • it's the prejudices of these japanese people

    • by phrostie (121428)

      exactly.

      google isn't the problem.
      it's the bias and prejudice of the people who live there.

  • If ever there were a case of treating a symptom, this is it. The problem is either in being burakumin or (more realistically) being discriminated against by being burakumin (I still don't quite get the issue). The problem is not the deterioration of the ability to hide thanks to developing technology. If that's the problem, the advancement of the human race is the problem and stagnation is about the only solution.
  • by caywen (942955) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @05:40PM (#28077855)
    Seriously, Japan needs a Title VII badly. The way they treat women and Burakkumin, and the way they discriminate on age, nationality, disability, and other characteristics, show that they haven't put the kind of thought into discrimination that America had been forced to over hundreds of years.
  • by Omegamogo (1388313) on Sunday May 24, 2009 @06:02PM (#28078035)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakuza#Burakumin

    Discrimination = Bad news. When honest people are forced out of honest jobs because of petty race or ancestry issues, they invariably turn either to immigration or the underworld.

    Thing is, this might be creating an excuse for those carrying a prejudice against Burakumin; "Marry our daughter? Hell no. Er, no, of course it's not because you're Burakumin, we're progressive like that. It's just that your family might have Yakuza links! Yeah, that's it, honest."

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