'Filth' maps row embroils Google Earth in Japan

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Google has been accused of perpetuating Japan's social divisions by publishing ancient maps that identify districts as home to "filth."

Representatives of the country's untouchable caste have taken Google to task for using maps that date back to the feudal era on its Google Earth service.

Inhabitants of certain districts, of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, were known as burakumin, or "unclean" centuries ago. They had jobs working as grave-diggers, butchers or leather workers. Google has incorporated antique maps into its service, showing streets and districts from the 17th century that are identified as "filth town."

Old prejudices remain even though the ghettoes are now part of the modern city and burukamin descendants are no longer required to live within the same district,

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