Satellites ensure Japan moves with the times


It seems Japan is forever being criticized for not moving with the times — well now it is, but only on maps. New satellite plotting techniques show that Japan’s official location is about 500 meters off its true location, an official said Wednesday.

“The current location of Japan is set by measurements taken in the Meiji era (1868-1912),” said Shoji Chihaya, an official at the land, infrastructure and transportation ministry. “We have discovered, via satellites and high-tech equipment, that Japan sits in a slightly different location. As we live in the era of globalization, we need to adjust things like a country’s location under global standards.”

Japan’s official position is based on a standard point in central Tokyo, which is declared to be latitude 35 degrees 39 minutes 17.5148 seconds north, and longitude 139 degrees 44 minutes 40.5020 seconds east. New readings using satellites and the global positioning system (GPS), which has been used since the ’80s to map other countries’ positions precisely, place Japan about 500 meters further southeast, Chihaya said.

The true position has not yet been adopted by the ministry’s Geographical Survey Institute because it requires the revision of two laws officially determining Japan’s land and sea areas, the official added.

Barring political as opposed to continental drift, the amendments will be submitted during the current session of the Diet (national parliament), which opened Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Geographical Survey Institute reported that Japan’s landmass expanded by 9.4 square kilometers in 2000 as a result of land reclamation projects.

Reclamation has added 1,058.14 square kilometers to the area of the archipelago since 1950, the Institute said.