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Google Earth Raises Discrimination Issue In Japan

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the outsourcing-the-risk-and-appropriating-the-benefit dept.

Google 457

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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Irrelevant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Kinda like TRAILER PARKs today (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Kinda like TRAILER PARKs today (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077197)

Says the person who uses the phrase, "that's how I was learned."

Re:Irrelevant (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077183)

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:Irrelevant (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077245)

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?

Re:Irrelevant (5, Insightful)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077329)

Your country also spells "thru". Larger values of stupid doesn't make something more correct somehow, just more stupid.

Re:Irrelevant (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076933)

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

Slavery = Stupidity ? How un-multicultural of you (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077195)

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 exists and is operational in many parts of india.

The classes of non-muslims in islamic countries [wikipedia.org]. In addition to that, there is the muslim slave trading system [wikipedia.org]. Note that while the wikipedia page tries to minimize the muslims that accept slavery, however they include all sunni schools, representing over 90% of all muslims worldwide. Also, slavery is practiced today in Mecca, the center of the islamic world. Officially called slavery until 1970, today the name translates to something like involuntary contractees. Fortunately there is "some" (make of it what you want) popular opposition brewing in the muslim world to the exploitation of "involuntary workers", especially against exploitation of the sexual kind. It is, however, not outlawed, and it won't get outlawed any time soon (the gulf's economies depend on it. Especially Dubai's, but in reality all do, including Kuwait's)

There are lots of countries where muslims openly practice slavery (and call it slavery), including but not limited to : Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Sudan.

Involuntary service contracts, however exist everywhere in the gulf, Kuwait, Jordan and Syria.

Iran, despite it's horrible name and extremely objectionable nuke policy, is actually the most progressive (and tolerant) muslim country in existence, with the possible exception of the secular Turkey.

Given that Iran is just about the most open islamic country, their anti-Jews retoric must be interpreted not especially as a sign of the antisemitic nature of Iran itself, but rather how antisemitic and intolerant even a very progressive muslim country is.

Note that EVERY major religion EXCEPT Christianity actively encourages the subjugation or extermination of non-believers in one form or another. There generally are rules relating to master vs slaves relations, treatment of the captured (though they often include the right of the master to kill the servant), but all religions regulate slavery, and explicitly do not outlaw it, with the exception of Christianity. Christians are to convince non-Christians peacefully, through love and reasoning, yadda yadda you probably know the lines.

Note that, even with the exceptional theoretical difference in Christianity, all cultures, including Christianity (though modestly compared to other religions), engaged in slavery. The culture that outlawed slavery and castes, and eradicated it everywhere in the world, with the exception of a few muslim countries, as any American should know, the Christians that won the American civil war (against other Christians, who did support slavery ... nevertheless no other culture ever went to war over slaves).

Note that one of the consequences of the American civil war was the start of constant terrorist attacks on American ships by the muslims ("barbary pirates" is a name for ottoman muslims) that supplied the southerners' slaves. They lost their income, which basically ended the caliphate's access to the products of the American industrial machine. As a reaction to the attacks Thomas Jefferson bought himself a quran, read it, and proceeded to create the American Marine and bomb the shit out of Northern Africa, writing these words (this is a response of the muslim ottoman ambassador to a request for peace and cessation of attacks):

" The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the prophet, that it was written in their koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to paradise. " (Thomas Jefferson, days before ordering the weeklong bombardment of several muslim harbors. The very long term result of this action was the overthrow of the caliphate by a Ottoman army officer, whose name is given to the only existing secular muslim country : Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, salient detail : three muslim caliphs were beaten by a man who is whispered to be a homosexual, supposed to be inferior beings according to islam)

Re:Slavery = Stupidity ? How un-multicultural of y (5, Informative)

Bake (2609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077399)

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.

Re:Irrelevant (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076753)

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.

Definitely irrelevant (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077001)

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.

Re:Definitely irrelevant (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077279)

have a problem with discrimination . . . not the United States

BAHAHAHAHA!

*snrk*
*snort*

Oh god!
HAHAHAHAHA!

Can't be google (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#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!

Not racist or classist, caste-ist? ghetto-ist? (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077115)

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.

Re:Can't be google (1, Insightful)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077039)

> Surely the problem is with the discrimination within the Japanese people and has nothing to do with Google.

The world isn't black and white. Just because Japanese society is at fault, doesn't mean Google is without fault.

Certainly, the discrimination of burakumin is a problem of the Japanese society, but as the summary already put it, Google (unwittingly) provides tool, which simplifies the practice of ostracism of burakumin by reviving the old ghettos maps on modern maps. The discrimination is largely based on where the people have lived and currently do live. So, publicising those maps is not helping them.

In an ideal world, the Japanese people would just stop the discrimination. But we don't live in a ideal world, and if the minority in question feels this short gap measure is necessary, I think it is sensible to comply. Or do you have a good idea, how to eradicate discrimination? The Nobel Price for Peace would be yours for sure.

Re:Can't be google (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077169)

The world isn't black and white. Just because Japanese society is at fault, doesn't mean Google is without fault.

But who says japanese society is at fault, its cultural differences. This is more of an issue when USA company goes to Japan to do business and doesn't know the cultural issues to full extend.

Re:Can't be google (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077221)

While we have no absolute reference point, and thus can only make claims from our personal and cultural point of view, it is much easier to make an argument based on pure logic against a practise like this than it is to debate the relative merits of a lot of other cultural issues.

Re:Can't be google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077259)

Well, there is the method of killing everybody indiscriminately, but people always complain whenever I suggest it.

Re:Can't be google (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077295)

But if the Japanese made a car called Nigger-Mobile which they may be fine with and decide to sell it over in the US do you not think that is a bit silly?

The article stated:

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.

It sounds like they're not altering the maps just removing a bit of print from the legend that carries a word consider as offensive as nigger.

I don't necessarily agree with it but then I think there shouldn't be any issues with the word nigger and by making the word taboo it gives the word too much power. But I completely understand why a company may not want to have that word on their maps.

Re:Can't be google (1)

rve (4436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077145)

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.

Re:Can't be google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077173)

Surely the problem is with the discrimination within the Japanese people and has nothing to do with Google.

Yes. And IBM had nothing to do with discrimination against a certain class by another certain class, during a certain time period. [Godwin alert].

The fact is is that they are facilitating the discrimination by making it easier to carry out.

Mike Rowe as a good will ambassador (5, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#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!

Re:Mike Rowe as a good will ambassador (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076657)

Mod parent up.

Re:Mike Rowe as a good will ambassador (5, Insightful)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 4 years ago | (#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).

Re:Mike Rowe as a good will ambassador (1, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076873)

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.

Re:Mike Rowe as a good will ambassador (1)

shog9 (154858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077009)

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

Only a Westerner would think that thinking that another culture needs some "enlightenment" that is conveniently delivered via that culture's own media is a uniquely Western perspective.

Or maybe I just think that 'cause i'm a Westerner...

Re:Mike Rowe as a good will ambassador (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077091)

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 to the universally held beliefs of the equality of Man.

How not to fix a problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076567)

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

Re:How not to fix a problem (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076851)

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.

Re:How not to fix a problem (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077103)

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

Is it any different anywhere else? (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Is it any different anywhere else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076849)

They have chineese immigrants to be very rasistic about.

Re:Is it any different anywhere else? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077019)

Perhaps it's not that we're wrong about there being some group of people screwing us over, just that we finger the wrong one. If so, the solution is to go after the correct one, so that nobody is screwing us over.

Re:Is it any different anywhere else? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077037)

Every society has its pariahs. Japan has few immigrants

Which are pariahs.

It is a part of fallen human nature-- the Bible (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077179)

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.

immigrants to Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077371)

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.

The fact that it has so few immigrants should tell you something in itself.

In the US, the Mexicans are simply the latest in a long and noble line of foreigners that were/are looked down upon. It will be someone else's turn in a decade or two.

Europe is only now learning about immigration--unlike the US and Canada which were built on it--so they're new to the whole game of 'dirty foreigner' contaminating the pure bloods.

In the long term though, just given the relative populations, a person two hundred will probably end up being part-Chinese or part-Indian.

The cost of freedom (5, Insightful)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076583)

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.

Re:The cost of freedom (4, Funny)

xs650 (741277) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077255)

"Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it"

That's what my High School US History teacher used to say.

How does this help discrimination? (1)

PleaseFearMe (1549865) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076595)

So for 150 years, some families pass down their apartment in the ghetto generation after generation?

Re:How does this help discrimination? (4, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076969)

In Japan (and most Asian countries), lineage is considered much more important than it is in the U.S. If your daughter is marrying someone, it's common to check their lineage, and expected of you to offer it up under the right circumstances.

The complaint against Google is that they've made it easy to identify someone whose lineage goes back to these "scum towns" where only members of this untouchable caste could live. It doesn't matter that you're the youngest vice president at Toyota, your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather comes from a scumtown, so you're scum too to your fiance's father.

Reasons (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:Reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076785)

But there is an easy solution to this. Everyone just needs to be a misanthrope like me.

Re:Reasons (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076815)

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 (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076923)

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 (3, Interesting)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Reasons (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077233)

I can't be the only one that is sick of the practice of identifying ourselves based on our racial background.

Racial, National, what's the difference? What's the difference between skin color and place of birth? Did I have a choice in either? So why is one discrimination okay, and the other not? Instead if saying you're an American, why can't you say, *I'm just here.*? You're only allowed to stay where you are because the you are "authorized" by the state. You must show papers. Nationalism and racism, same damn thing!

Re:Reasons (5, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077211)

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.

Re:Reasons (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077423)

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 someone is of another colour then just say black, brown, etc.

I think the British have it right by using the term black British and white British on forms. That way you're implying everyone is from one nation but you can determine the diversity of an area.

Re:Reasons (1)

deraj123 (1225722) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077439)

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

Depends...what's his name?

Re:Reasons (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076833)

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 seems to me, this topic gets much more readily swept under the carpet than it deserves.

Re:Reasons (5, Insightful)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076997)

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.

Re:Reasons (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077189)

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 that.

Re:Reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077297)

You are assuming what you are trying to prove, that races are no more different than car colors, when there is much evidence to the contrary. Here is one example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_Differences_in_Intelligence

And this page on the U.S Justice department website that says blacks commit murder at a rate 7 times higher than whites. There are plenty more differences just as big as those.

Re:Reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077353)

Forgot the link, here:

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm

I wish people wouldn't consider the truth racist and at least look at the facts.

why don't you ask lilly leadbetter to just drop it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077325)

do you even know who she is? no? well, maybe you should stop trying to 'drop it' and learn something about history, you ignoramus.

your 'performance' , as far as analyzing the situation goes, is crappy.

Re:why don't you ask lilly leadbetter to just drop (1)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077395)

Lilly's case is concerning gender discrimination, not racial. And that discrimination is no better, I may add. The fact that such a gap in pay existed is another case of exactly what I'm saying is a bad idea, ie, taking something like that (race, gender, etc) into consideration and treating someone differently based on it. Lilly is not the one at fault here, the company is. Why exactly are you making an insulting post towards me about it?

Your entire post, and the fact you posted as an AC, makes you seem more like the "ignoramus" here.

Re:Reasons (1)

RabidMoose (746680) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077373)

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.

Re:Reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077085)

Black people (a) look different, making them quite easy for racists to spot, and (b) act different (or at least have a different culture).

Re:Reasons (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076655)

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.

What the fuck? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076607)

What the flying fuck does Google have to do with any of this? The problem is cultural, not technological. Get a fucking grip.

Re:What the fuck? (0, Offtopic)

gavron (1300111) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076681)

This doesn't have ANYTHING TO DO WITH GOOGLE. It's a slow day and the /. editors let this piece of crap through. This is a Japanese cultural issue. This would be like blaming PACER (http://pacer.gov) for saying bad things about criminals. E

Re:What the fuck? (1)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076871)

It's obviously not Googles fault. The story is just an interesting example of how technology shapes society. Doesn't that qualify as both "News for Nerds" and "Stuff that Matters"?

All look same to me (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076669)

Because there is nothing physical to differentiate burakumin from other Japanese

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

Re:All look same to me (2, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076917)

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:All look same to me (2, Informative)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076945)

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 Korean, for example. And some Koreans look quite a bit like Japanese. Go talk about that in either country if you want to rev up some extra controversy :) When I lived in Japan, I knew a Korean woman who never carried her gaijin card because she looked very Japanese, dressed Japanese, and spoke native-level Japanese. She was an immigrant, but it would pretty hard to tell, so she could get away with not carrying her card.

Some Japanese are kind of Chinese-looking, too. They definitely don't all look alike. There is also a small Vietnamese community in Japan. More are around Osaka than Tokyo, but all together there are probably only 20-30 thousand, IIRC.

Re:All look same to me (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077059)

"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.

Stupidest story ever. (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076695)

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:Stupidest story ever. (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076935)

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:Stupidest story ever. (2, Informative)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077231)

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 country".

 

Re:Stupidest story ever. (5, Insightful)

Zorque (894011) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

Altima(BoB) (602987) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Re:Not surprising (1, Flamebait)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076911)

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

[citation needed]

Re:Not surprising (3, Informative)

Altima(BoB) (602987) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076965)

Counter-citation (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077099)

http://www.ogleearth.com/2005/10/taiwan_it_is_th.html

They changed it days later. Also, that Register writer clearly didn't know jack about Taiwan, given his tone.

Re:Counter-citation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28077281)

Goddammit, I swear I should just register. Nobody even sees Anonymous comments, much less reads them. Darn moderation system... *grumble*

Not since 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076943)

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

From what I can tell as a nonuser, they removed the label [ogleearth.com] back in Oct 2005, the same month that the complaints made the news. Unless they reinstated it later, but I don't see any news about that.

Best to shine a light on this (5, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

We need a google map to show us (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Best to shine a light on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076881)

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.

Because it's ever so much more important than gender equality.

I know I know, you have to pick your battles. sigh.

Re:Best to shine a light on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076913)

...Right, so how many of those evil sweat shops were closed down thanks to moral outrage? A small part of me asks this honestly on the off chance the answer is "a decent amount."

Knowledge=Discrimination (0, Offtopic)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076795)

discrimination: secernment (the cognitive process whereby two or more stimuli are distinguished)

Re:Knowledge=Discrimination (1)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077133)

In the contemporary world, "discrimination" is short hand for what was once known as "unjustified discrimination".

Re:Knowledge=Discrimination (0, Redundant)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077397)

In the contemporary world, "discrimination" is short hand for what was once known as "unjustified discrimination".

Point taken. It appears that you, sir, are a truly discriminating wordsmith.

Just some more informations ... (1)

amnesic (1561417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076799)

"[...]Google and Rumsey decided to white-out the areas while Berkeley decided not to alter any of our online maps. Google is a business enterprise and wants to avoid any trouble, I understand their position. We have not altered the original maps in either the main online collection or in the Google Maps collection - both of which are not hosted by Google but rather by David Rumsey. [...]" From http://www.maphistory.info/newslatest.html [maphistory.info] The google map version is not modified : http://rumsey.geogarage.com/index.html?lat=37.71859032558813&lon=138.2958984375&zoom=6 [geogarage.com]

It's hardly Google's fault, is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28076801)

Are these maps not simply using KML? Anyone can put anything on any Google Earth / Google Maps map. It's one of the really cool aspects of it. What they do with the applications is as much Google's fault as it is Adobe's fault when someone photoshops their photo for a dating website.

Keep this feature! (1)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28076819)

Nobody want's to remember atrocities committed by our ancestors, but we must keep history in tact to remind us never to make the same mistakes. That old map is a part of history, and we must keep it available to anyone who wants to see it. No doubt, it will bring up old tensions between people, and people will be forced to talk openly about their feelings - but talking is good, and you can't undo decades of discrimination by pretending it never happened. Bring these issues out and the open, and talk about them. I hope Google keeps this map feature, and is able to provide historical context and sensitivity along with it.

Broken Logic (1)

Hercules Peanut (540188) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077293)

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.

Point of view (0, Offtopic)

esme (17526) | more than 4 years ago | (#28077433)

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.

Sorry, but no. The map can be neutral. It's the people with a point of view.

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