Japan urges Google to drop China name for disputed isles

TOKYO, Thursday 14 October 2010 (AFP) - Japan said on Thursday that Internet giant Google should drop from its map service the Chinese name for a disputed island chain at the centre of a bitter feud between Tokyo and Beijing.

Google Maps shows both the Japanese and Chinese names of the group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that lie near possible energy deposits and are claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.

"I want to make a representation from the foreign ministry to Google," Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told parliament after the conservative opposition complained to the company.

Itsunori Onodera, the Liberal Democratic Party's shadow foreign minister, visited the Japan head office of Google on Wednesday with a letter of protest and demanding the company drop the Chinese name.

Maehara said "the Senkaku (islands) are Japanese territory and there is no territorial dispute in the East China Sea," using the Japanese name for the islands which China refers to as Diaoyu.

"I think what lawmaker Onodera did was a totally reasonable, fair action. The government would like to take coordinated action if necessary," he said.

Japan's arrest of a Chinese skipper near the islands last month sparked the worst diplomatic row in years between the Asian giants, although both sides are now working to improve ties and arrange a premiers' summit.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, also speaking in parliament, only said his government would investigate the issue and deal with it in a firm manner.

Google Japan said in a statement: "We have not yet received any letters from Minister Maehara, but we are willing to take a look into his request.

"We work to make information in Google Maps and Earth as discoverable as possible. This is especially important for disputed features that have conflicting claims."

MySinchew 2010.10.14