Skip to comments.Old Japanese maps on Google Earth unveil secrets
Posted on 05/02/2009 5:09:07 PM PDT by george76
When Google Earth added historical maps of Japan ...Google failed to judge how its offering would be received, as it has often done in Japan. The company is now facing inquiries from the Justice Ministry and angry accusations of prejudice because its maps detailed the locations of former low-caste communities.
The maps date back to the country's feudal era, when shoguns ruled and a strict caste system was in place. At the bottom of the hierarchy were a class called the "burakumin," ethnically identical to other Japanese but forced to live in isolation because they did jobs associated with death, such as working with leather, butchering animals and digging graves.
Google has misjudged public sentiment before. After cool responses to privacy issues raised about its Street View feature, which shows ground-level pictures of Tokyo neighborhoods taken without warning or permission, the company has faced strong public criticism and government hearings. It has also had to negotiate with Japanese companies angry over their copyrighted materials uploaded to its YouTube property.
(Excerpt) Read more at apnews.myway.com ...
I’m a big lover of Japan, but this is silly. They should include where the Tokugawa shogunate crucified and burned all of the Christians, too.
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I wonder if they list Formosa and Korea under Japanese rule.
Yeah, this is like old real estate deeds that say it can’t be sold to a black guy. Kind of a curiosity these days except for the easily offended or the downright bigoted.
Yet the samurai, professional warriors and killers, were at the peak of the traditional Japanese hierarchy.
Little inconsistency there, perhaps? The killer is glorified, but the guy who digs the grave is shunned.
I wonder what the traditional Japanese justification for this is.
Ah heck, it’s just a little matter of history, ask our Universities about it. They’ll tell you how to change it or gloss over it in so that it is lost in one or two dumbed down generations.
From what I understand, it’s a Buddhist thing. Flesh and skins are unclean.
So killing is OK, but disposing of the results makes one unclean? I suspect the Buddha himself would not recognize this type of “logic.”
I bet this came about when Buddhism was integrated into a warrior society.
The degree of contamination. Samurai only are contaminated some, but the eta were those who were severely contaminated by constantly doing work/living in conditions that required contact with things that squicked out the sense of cleanness of the 16th and 17th centuries. That would basically deal with things having a lot to do with death and blood. But for some reason some other odd jobs got associated with uncleanness, like making bamboo tea whisks, and being certain entertainers....
It’s a weird combo of Shinto/Buddhist prejudices codified by the Shogunate, and possibly used as a scapegoat class, to give the peasant farmer, who was pretty low on the totem poll himself, something to be above....and it also worked that you could be put into the non-person class as a punishment for a long time...
Yup, them bamboo tea whisks are pretty disgusting.
I understand that potential marriage partners are still screened in Japan for eta ancestry, although the government tries to pretend it doesn’t happen.
The Japs have always been in serious denial about their various horrific acts, from far history to the recent, like the Rape of Nanking, Pearl Harbor, and the Bataan Death March.
They don’t much talk about Hiroshima, either...
For all their remarkable accomplishments as a race of people, the Japanese seem to have a real blind spot when coming to grips with the less flattering aspects of their historical past.
“burakumin” sounds a bit like the Indian untouchables who also worked with unclean things including body waste.
Since the Samurai worked with fresh kills, they would not be exposed to the same germ problems that workers with longer dead animals and people might be exposed to. Possibly it was a public health issue based on bad illness experiences with those who handled rotting flesh and hides. Of course, they didn’t know about germs in those days.
It’s kind of like SPLC or ADL, pumped up on steroids.
If you mention ANYTHING about Burakumin at a Japanese public school you basically get fired. They come around every year or so, some rep from their organization that has a weird name. He speaks politely about the need to be sensitive, and beforehand Everyone Is Made To Understand.
Sometimes they show some “Woe is me”-type film.
Some important rules in Japan —like eating on a train (I’m talking about subways or JR lines), for example— are not written down anywhere, but are so well known that no one speaks of them.
It is still true that some young people don’t know this stuff —I have had to teach some Japanese folks about it (who reacted unbelieving at first).
Know why there’s no real Nanking History Awareness Group? Cuz those victims aren’t Japanese...
But in reality, only white liberal nations wallow in guilt over their past national crimes. No other group of people on earth does this. Muslims don't. Africans don't. Native Americans don't.
In the liberalized West, we're very accustomed to obsessing over our past sins. We think our sins are uniquely evil and we thus don't usually expect non-Western people to fret over their own violent pasts. To the liberal mind, sins by non-Western people could never possibly reach to level of wickedness of Western sins. However, we treat the Japanese as a bit of an exception (i.e., it upsets us a little when they ignore their past crimes) because we consider them to be a first world nation, so we expect them to be “just like us” and spend a great deal of time fretting about their past.
Japanese history is fascinating to me, perhaps especially because of their blend of the highest art, culture and sensitivity with the most incredible brutality and bestiality.
Such things have always existed in every society, but as far as I’m aware the Japanese are nearly unique in their ability to combine these in the same person, indeed almost at the same time, without seeing a conflict.
For example, the Japanese Army was well known in the Russo-Japanese War and WWI for being chivalrous and well-behaved. By the time WWII came around, the extreme opposite. A good many have tried to attribute the change to Nazi influence. But a cursory study of the period will show the Japanese didn’t really pay all that much attention to the Nazis.
The answer, IMO, is that the brutality of WWII as compared to earlier wars of the century was merely a different aspect of the Japanese military tradition coming to the fore. They were both there all the time. The only difference was which one was in the ascendant.
Another country’s past and present come back to haunt them. Well, suck it up.
Japan of the turn of the century treated Europeans with respect and POW (Russians) with respect. But that is where it stopped. Treatment of Chinese POW and Korean POW during the Sino Japanese War of 1895 was not so kind. Japan adopted the European convention that European nations are civilized thus accorded civil treatment in the time of war, while the rest of the world was barbaric, thus civil treatment was not necessary and optional. Japanese treatment of POW escapes were simple, any Chinese POW escaped, the rest who did not run were randomly selected and beheaded. Check out the reports on the Sino Japanese War of 1895. Same was done to Korean troops resistng Japanese violation of its territory when they marched thru Korea to Manchuria to fight the Russian forces. By the time of World War II the Japanese asked themselves why apply brutal methods to non European POW’s, just apply the brutal methods to all of them.
You are, of course, correct.
Although the Japanese gained the reputation during the Boxer Rebellion of being the most disciplined and least brutal of the invading armies.
For the first 50 or so years after the Japanese opened their society they were desperately trying to be accepted as equals by white countries. In doing so, they adopted many of the policies that these countries often did not fully implement themselves, such as chivalrous treatment of captured enemies. As you say, this was only “civilized” enemies. By especially brutal treatment of other Asians they were in essence saying we are different from and superior to these other Asian peoples. White nations treated “colored” enemies much the same, certainly not as if they were white.
During the 20s they mostly lost their respect for and sense of inferiority to white countries and the old Japanese xehophobia reasserted itself, along with the always-there Japanese tradition of contempt for those who surrendered rather than fighting to the death. The result was the atrocities of WWII.
Quite true. Most other groups glorify their warrior past, while we obsess over the crimes that inevitably go along with the making of war.
WWII = more of a ‘Peasant’ army perhaps? I have read that since the guarding of POW was seen as a ‘very low class’ job or task, the gutter scrapings were used. Also, the idea of being defeated didn't sit well with many of the Jap military high up.
In the end, they all got a taste of the other shoe.
As a note, when visiting the Mazda factory, they have a time line/pictograph, show what (civilian) products were made. In the mid 40s, no products are shown, just a small mushroom cloud.
When visiting certain Temples, out guide was very proud of how earthquake proof they are.
The cement version replaced the one firebombed by the AAC.
So, I would say, at least with the few Japanese I have known well, WWII is recognized - but like many things of embarrassment, it is not discussed in polite company.
I’m not too crazy about discovering you can see a picture of my house from the street either, but I’ve sort of become resigned to it.
I will admit that Google Earth has been a God-send as a Homeschool Educator — mostly with the ability for my children to see historical, and current places as if they were ‘right there’. [I think it’s pretty darn cool, myself.]
There's no question the earlier Japanese Army was much more dominated by the aristocracy than the mass army of the 40s.
But the traditional code of Bushido contained aspects that could encourage both chivalry and brutality to prisoners. That's my whole point. Both aspects are embedded in Japanese culture.
It’s not a “buddhist” thing. It’s common sense since dead bodies of humans and animals carry disease (animal pelts and skin for example have cause outbreaks of anthrax in humans who process them).
And the Jews and Hindus have similar taboos against touching the dead...so do the Navajo.
“Some important rules in Japan like eating on a train”
You got that right. Many unspoken rules which you are expected to know when you are over there.
So is eating on a train required or forbidden?
Enquiring minds want to know.
Practically speaking you are of course correct.
I just find the contrast between glorification of militarism and the military caste and the simultaneous belief in non-violence exemplified by widespread vegetarianism amd the los status of leatherworkers odd.
I’m sure Japanese people find contradictory aspects of our culture equally odd.
While here in the states we obsess over every sin from our past. We can't get away from the reminders of slavery, maltreatment of natives, gender inequalities, etc.
I think you are correct. To elaborate, however, I think that the Japanese had been trying very hard to act western (specifically British) in the ~1850-1920 period. Then in the years between the world wars there was a huge growth in Japanese nationalism. Bushido and other cultural aspects became much more important than following a western code of “fair play”.
I think much of the Japanese behavior in WWII can not be understood without understanding that they were trying to distinguish themselves as apart from the western powers. We are seeing the same thing today as the Arab/Muslim world tries to distinguish themselves as non-western.
Unfortunately both groups accepted violence and cruelty as a means to that end.
“Many unspoken rules which you are expected to know when you are over there.”
Well, from my experience, it always seemed like I was never judged on the same basis as a native Japanese. I’m quite certain I violated many of the customs of my hosts, but it always seemed I was given a pass. I was gaijin, and as such I was not held to the same standards as one who should know better. I’ll tell you truthfully, the Japanese were great hosts and seemed to be one of the most courteous folks I’d worked with anywhere in the world (there are plenty of places in rural America that are as nice, or better).
I can’t tell you how the treatment would have been if I were Korean. I hope that it would be the same, but I fear that it might not be so.
Science Frontiers ^ | 1989 | Dr C Loring Brace
"Findings by American anthropologist C. Loring Brace, University of Michigan, will surely be controversial in race conscious Japan. The eye of the predicted storm will be the Ainu, a "racially different" group of some 18,000 people now living on the northern island of Hokkaido. Pure-blooded Ainu are easy to spot: they have lighter skin, more body hair, and higher-bridged noses than most Japanese. Most Japanese tend to look down on the Ainu."
"Brace has studied the skeletons of about 1,100 Japanese, Ainu, and other Asian ethnic groups and has concluded that the revered samurai of Japan are actually descendants of the Ainu, not of the Yayoi from whom most modern Japanese are descended. In fact, Brace threw more fuel on the fire with:
"Dr. Brace said this interpretation also explains why the facial features of the Japanese ruling class are so often unlike those of typical modern Japanese. The Ainu-related samurai achieved such power and prestige in medieval Japan that they intermarried with royality and nobility, passing on Jomon-Ainu blood in the upper classes, while other Japanese were primarily descended from the Yoyoi." The reactions of Japanese scientists have been muted so. One Japanese anthropologist did say to Brace," I hope you are wrong."
As far as "eating on the train", the rule seems to be, on short run commuter trains, eating on the train is pretty much frowned upon, although some sort of beverage may be OK, (can of soda or appropriately non-descript alcoholic drink at the end of the day.) traditionally, one shouldn't do it, and if one does, leaving a mess is bad.
On the longer distance runs, snack carts are available on the train, as well as plenty of shops at the station, where you can get something before you board.
Custom is, this is eaten as soon as the train leaves the station, presumably while it's still hot and tastes OK.
But these are not "meals", they are small cooked snacks, and canned drinks. ( sometimes "spiked" with alcohol )
Likewise, there seems to be some objection to young ladies applying makeup on the train.
I guess a lot of it has to do with public appearance.
Hope that helps.
Thanks, this will be an enormous help on my next Japanese train trip. :)
I find it fascinating that different cultures can develop such different approaches for dealing with an identical situation, and even more so that each finds if difficult to conceive of doing things any other way. I’ve always thought the most important things about any society are those things that aren’t debated or discussed, they’re just taken for granted.
Interesting. The Shinkansen is a bit different. Too bad there's no unwritten rule about vomiting in train stations.
Likewise, there seems to be some objection to young ladies applying makeup on the train.
That always bothered me (the makeup part, not the objection).