Japanese Mapping of Asia-Pacific Areas, 1873-1945: An Overview

Shigeru Kobayashi, Osaka University
Topographical map of Germany’s leased territory confiscated by the Japanese army. Source: Osaka University Library
Download Article (1.31 MB)

Japanese mapping in the Asia-Pacific region up to 1945 calls for scrutiny, because its development was a multifaceted process with military, administrative, political, and cultural dimensions. This article traces the changes in Japanese mapping of overseas areas to the end of World War II and assesses the significance of the resulting maps, called gaihōzu, as sources for East Asian history. As implements of military operation and colonial administration, the gaihōzu were produced during a protracted period by various means under changing circumstances. Expanding military activity also promoted differentiation among the gaihōzu by increasing the use of maps originally produced in foreign countries. In conclusion, the need for detailed cataloging, in combination with chronologically arranged index mapping, is emphasized for the systematic use of the gaihōzu.