Saturday, July 04, 2009

Old Asia-Pacific maps from Japanese Imperial Army archives

Shigeru Kobayashi, professor at Osaka University said that old Asian maps from Japanese Imperial Army archives will be available goonline for modern use, such as studying changes in forest cover or the growth of cities.
Some of the maps date back to the 1880s, offering detailed topographical glimpses of the region when foreign occupations and colonialization were common.

Kobayashi is part of a team, led by scholars from several Japanese universities, that is putting the maps on the Internet.

Until the end of World War II, the Japanese military created, copied and stole maps of the vast region stretching from Alaska to Australia, and from the Korean peninsula to Pakistan.

Certain regions, including China, the Korean peninsula, Sakhalin and Taiwan -- which Japan occupied or colonized until the end of the war -- were mapped more frequently than others.

The military nature of the maps, some of which were created in secret, required researchers to be sensitive today, Kobayashi said.

The project has drawn some criticism online from residents of countries that fell victim to Japanese military aggression in the past, he added.

The growing online map collection can be viewed at a Japanese-language Internet archive hosted by Tohoku University.


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