Photo/Illutration(The Asahi Shimbun)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Google Maps have apparently lost its way with many discrepancies such as missing roads and bus stops and strange shapes popping up, forcing the Japanese arm of Google to apologize to users.

“We’re conducting an in-house investigation to resolve the problems as soon as possible," Google Japan said in a statement. "We apologize for causing inconvenience to users.”

Google Maps users have been reporting problems such as, “A narrow alley has disappeared.” Another complained, “The shapes of roads and railway tracks are strange.”

In the bus terminal area near the west exit of JR Shibuya Station in Tokyo, bus stops had been displayed on Google Maps. As of the evening on March 22, however, only two wide roads were shown.

The problems followed a March 6 announcement by Google that it would modify Google Maps within several weeks.

Since 2005, Google Maps have received map information from major map maker Zenrin Co., based in Kita-Kyushu. Therefore, speculation is spreading that modification of data provided by Zenrin may have led to the problems.

A public relations official of Zenrin declined to comment on the difficulties. A Google official in charge of the issue also said, “We don’t comment on individual contracts.”

The stock price of Zenrin closed at 2,473 yen ($22.50) on March 22, 16 percent lower than the previous trading day.

An analyst of a major securities company said, “Though Zenrin has yet to make a comment, speculation is spreading about its contract with Google. As a result, the stock price dropped.”

(This article was written by Fumiko Kuribayashi and Kazumi Tako.)