The Foreign Ministry on Thursday asked web search giant Google to restore the Korean name and address of the Dokdo islets on its map service. They were apparently deleted and replaced with an old nautical name.
"We made it clear that we can't accept Google's new policy because Dokdo is clearly Korean territory," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young told reporters. Seoul told Google that the change is "unacceptable and requested that it show the name of Dokdo on Google Maps," he added.
Google informed Seoul of the changes last Thursday.
But when asked whether Google made the change under pressure from Japan, which maintains a flimsy claim to the islets that dates back to the colonial occupation, Cho said the portal offered no explanation.
He added that Google claimed it made the decision after "years" of consideration, with the aim of making searches yield different results in different parts of the world when it comes to disputed territories.
"We told the company that searches from any part of the world should lead to the name Dokdo," Cho said.
Google updated the names of four areas, including Dokdo (Takeshima), East Sea (Sea of Japan), Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands, and the Persian Gulf (Gulf of Arabia). Now a search for "Dokdo" on the international version of Google Maps leads only to the location featuring the islets with the reference "Liancourt Rocks," but without the address.
Until now, Google's map service did not name the East Sea. But now a search from Korea for the body of water separating Korea and Japan shows "East Sea" along with "Sea of Japan" in brackets, and vice versa when searched in Japan.