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Security concerns keep power lines off Japan’s topo maps

Japan: The Geographical Survey Institute (GSI), Japan, requested 10 major power companies to provide the locations of their power lines and towers for the electronic map project. Citing terror and safety risks, however, all 10 firms refused, and the power lines disappeared from the newest maps. The Association of Japanese Geographers (AJG) and other organisations, meanwhile, have demanded the lines and towers be included, pointing out that mountain climbers use them to help confirm their locations.
The electronic map — available online since February 2011 — replaced the traditional paper version. The electronic map, in contrast to the paper map created from on-site measurements, was built using aerial photographs supplemented with detailed information on roads and structures provided by local governments and companies.
GSI requested the locations of the power lines and towers through the end of 2011, after they proved hard to identify in the aerial survey shots. However, all 10 power firms refused, citing “problems relating to safety policy.”
“There is a risk the location information could be used for terrorism or be otherwise misused,” a Kansai Electric Power Co. official overseeing the issue stated. “We are not providing detailed data (to GSI).”
Joetsu University of Education associate professor Takashi Shimura, however, agrees with the AJG that the locations of the power lines “are useful for getting your bearings in mountain climbing. “There is a real risk of doing damage to the study of geography and cartography,” he added.
Meanwhile Hiroshi Tashiro, a Japan Cartographers Association trustee and teacher at a high school attached to Tsukuba University, said, “There are already far more detailed aerial photographs available on the Internet, so the power company’s position is very anachronistic. I think they’re being excessively secretive.”
The AJG has submitted a formal written request to the GSI for inclusion of the electrical towers on the digital map, and the GSI “hopes to implement the wishes of users as much as possible, though adding the towers will be difficult without the cooperation of the power companies,” an institute representative stated.
Source: Mainichi