Japan, October 31, 2014: Japan has updated the topographic map of the disputed Northern Territories off the coast of Hokkaido for the first time in 92 years. Since territorial issues render them off limits to Japan for ground and aerial surveying, the government had to use satellite imagery.
The mapping of the islands, which were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and claimed by Tokyo, marked the completion of a 1:25,000 scale topographic map of Japan, and replaced the 1:50,000 scale map that had been in use since 1922.
In 1964, the Geographical Information Authority of Japan (GSI) began a nationwide geographic survey to create a map in accordance with its long-term plan for basic survey.
Through the use of aerial photos, the GSI completed most of the mapping project in 1983, followed by the addition in 1988 of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by Japan and China. The map of the disputed Takeshima islets, claimed by Japan and South Korea, was completed in 2007 following the introduction of satellite images.
The mapping of the Northern Territories, however, had been hindered by the region's harsh climate, marked by snowy winters and cloudy weather that continues from spring through autumn. The GSI was forced to utilise satellite images, which are also subject to the vagaries of the weather, to map the islands due to the territorial dispute.
Source: The Asahi Shimbun