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Change of swastikas as temple symbol sparks backlash in Japan

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Tokyo: To make travelling convenient in Japan for overseas visitors, the Geospatial information Authority suggested a number of changes in the maps which are produced to the foreigners as Japan prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The official map-making body suggested to change the temples symbol from Sanskrit lettering, swastika by a three-storey pagoda. As most tourists associate the symbols with Nazism.

Japanese people are unhappy with the symbols being changed. As Japanese maps have long used swastikas to mark the location of Buddhist temples on maps. They refer the symbol as ‘manji’, had been used as a sign for religious buildings which is associated with Buddhism and Japanese culture, and that the tourists should learn this. This symbol is used for thousands of years before Hitler.

This symbol is among one of six map symbols the GSI of Japan has proposed for dropping.

One of the Twitter user Fei Explorer linked to the change and asked : “So if terrorists hang up the Union Jack, does this mean the UK should change its flag? Or the USA or Australia?”

Another Twitter user, Konatch, said: “It’s said some would mistake the manji for the Nazi symbol, but Buddhism has a much longer history with this symbol. So I strongly oppose changing our maps for some foreigners who are ignorant and extremely stupid. The idea is foolish.”

GSI’s executive officer for national mapping, Takayuki Nakamura, said. “Some say we should change symbols for Japanese-language maps at this opportunity, while others say the traditional symbols should stay. Either way, it will take a while before any changes are made, as we need to co-ordinate with related government agencies.”

Other symbols that will be changed for foreigners maps includes that for a hotel, church, post office, hospital and police station .

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