Google is dealing with a new issue. I won't explain the details here. Do a google search with the following tokens: 'burakumin tokyo map david rumsey' to read all about it. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burakumin for an explanation of Burakumin in general.
Personally, as an amateur anthropologist, I am fascinated by the history of the Burakumin people in Japan and the current outcry really puzzles me. But then I'm fascinated by the Yakuza and how they facilitate business in Japan, the Ainu people, and the treatment of Chinese and Korean permanent residents born in Japan, too.
I know this dates back to feudal times but being a younger generation (born after WWII) person I find such political correctness and conservative attitudes to be both interesting and disappointing.
In the US and other western countries, activists would have outed all of the shameful details and made sure that there is full transparency regarding historical things that put a country in a bad light.
Why should we be concerned about this? I really wasn't so concerned about it until I read about the outcry against Google Street View in Japan. I was shocked when I read this letter: globalvoicesonline.org/2008/…
I'm not sure how successful they will be in shutting it down in Japan but it will be a sad day if it is shutdown.
At our own home on Google Street View you can see two of our vehicles out front, the silhouette of our son in the front doorway and clearly our lawn and landscaping. Our home can be viewed by anyone (and I mean anyone) who walks by, rides by or drives by on the public street that we live on, or...by anyone who can use Google Street View and knows our address. I can see my friend's home in Japan, her car and even laundry drying on the balcony. I read the explanation in the letter about privacy but I don't buy it for one minute. I guess when I'm walking through neighborhoods in Japan taking pictures I need to be more careful.
Is it illegal to take a picture of someone's home in Japan? If so, then I've probably committed many hundreds of crimes, guilty as charged.