Japan has managed to outwit both Korea and China in global PR campaigns surrounding its territorial claims. After it succeeded in getting web search giant Google to delete the Korean address of Dokdo on its map service, it also got the U.S. company to use mainly the Japanese name for a chain of islands in the East China Sea to which both Japan and China lay claim, it emerged on Thursday.
Google had used both "Senkaku" and "Diaoyu" for the disputed island chain on its global map service and its map service in Japan. Now only "Senkaku" is used in Japan. Google China still uses "Diaoyu" as before, but the global service uses three versions, "Senkaku" (for Japan), "Diaoyu" (for China), and "Tiaoyutai" (for Taiwan).
Google still uses the name "Kuril Islands" for a chain of islands disputed by Russia and Japan, while Japan calls them the "Northern Territories."
"Japan is probably keeping quiet about these islands because it does not want to anger Russia. There is a rumor about possible bilateral talks about the return of the islands to Japan," a diplomatic source said.
While updating its online maps, Google deleted the Korean address of Dokdo and announced plans to use two names for "disputed" places like "Dokdo/Takeshima," "East Sea/Sea of Japan," "Senkaku/Diaoyu," and "Persian Gulf/Arabian Gulf."
However, Dokdo is not disputed territory, since it is officially administered by Korea and Japan merely insists on a flimsy colonial-era claim to the islets.
Tokyo nonetheless seems to have persuaded global tech firms like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that it would be more "neutral" to use names that would appear to legitimize the Japanese claim.
According to reports on Thursday, Apple has decided to show both the Korean and Japanese names for the Dokdo islets in its new English-language mapping service for the iPhone, apparently under pressure from Japan.
"Apple's decision is very regrettable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young told reporters. "We'll put our claim forward strongly once again through the Korean Consulate General in San Francisco," where Google and Apple have their headquarters.