May 4, 2009Google. They're in a tough spot this time. The Internet giant has hit some cultural snags in Japan before, over how it rolled out its products in the Land of the Rising Sun. This time, they're in trouble because Google used publicly available historical maps of Tokyo and Osaka in an overlay for its popular (and amazing) Google Earth program. The problem is, the maps showed the locations of former villages where the "burakumin" used to live in feudal times. The locations have long since been developed with the concrete, steel and glass of modern Tokyo, but the antique map has dredged up centuries and shame, and a fresh spate of anger from the descendants of burakumin as well as government officials who'd just as soon forget that such prejudice ever existed -- and apparently still exists.