Anyone can purchase any map in Japan

Anyone can purchase any map in Japan


Prof Shunji
Prof Shunji
General Secretary
Asian Association on Remote Sensing
Tokyo, Japan
Email: [email protected]

Prof Shunji Murai talks about the status of gemomatics in Japan vis-a-vis the Asian region. Prof Murai shares his views about the key issues and challenges. He also talks about his association with the Asian Association on Remote Sensing (AARS)

  • What is the present status of Geomatics in Japan?
  • Geomatics in Japan is rapidly expanding in not only the business domain, but also in the field of research and development.

    GPS: since 2002 the Geographic Survey Institute (GSI) has opened GPS information at about 1,200 GPS stations located all over Japan. This has made it possible to use VRS in real time base. The Japan Association of Surveyors is responsible for this project. So far two private companies have started to provide GPS information to commercial industries.

    GIS: About 30-40 per cent of local governments have installed GIS with the aim of improving administrative and management services. Digital mapping for car navigation is very competitive among several different providers. A few Japanese companies have developed their own GIS software for commercial use.

    Remote Sensing: Unfortunately Japanese satellites have failed several times recently. But we are waiting for the launch of ALOS satellite by the end of this year. Five Japanese companies are operating airborne laser scanning businesses. Three companies have started business of airborne digital camera system (Japanese Three Line Scanner, Leica ADS and Z/I DMC).

  • What are the key issues and challenges for Geomatics in Japan?
  • Some of the key issues and challenges are: providing low cost and real time access to geospatial information, including large-scale image information; demand for disaster monitoring and prediction, which would provide security against environmental problems and accidents; welfare for senior people.

  • Many Governments in Asia have a tendency to control the usage of spatial data. What are your observations?
  • Fortunately Japan is quite open about any type of information, including large-scale maps and aerial photographs. Any foreigner can purchase any map and aerial photograph of Japan without any restriction. Japanese people are guaranteed the right to know about the area where they live. It is the duty of local governments to inform people about risky areas, which would help them at the time of natural disasters, but some Asian countries are restricting the free use of geospatial data. I wonder how can a government stop people from getting access to high-resolution satellite imagery. My observation is different from some conservative groups. “The nation who knows best about the country can defend best.”