According to Kyodo News, the number of official islands in Japan is expected to double from 6,852 to 14,125 after the government conducted the first survey of its territorial waters since 1987.
Japan, a mountainous nation with a land mass of approximately 146,000 square miles, is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Sea of Okhotsk, Sea of Japan, and East China Sea.
Yonaguni Island, Japan’s westernmost inhabited island, is pictured on April 13, 2022 on Yonaguni, Japan. (Carl Court/Getty Images)
The new survey, being conducted by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, is not expected to increase the country’s territory but will give officials a more accurate picture of its terrain.
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The revised analysis was prompted by a member of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who told parliament in December 2021 that “an accurate understanding of the number of islands is an important administrative matter linked to the national interest,” reports Kyodo News.
Aerial view of Matsushima Bay, Japan. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)
This file photo shows two of the Dokdo Islands, called the Takeshima Islands by the Japanese. (Chung Sung Jun/Getty Images)
The Seto-Naikai Inland Sea separates Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu – the three main islands of Japan. (John S. Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images)
While Japan mainly catalogs islands that have always been there but have gone unnoticed, the formation of new islands in the country’s territory is not unprecedented.
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In August 2021, the Japan Coast Guard discovered a new C-shaped island about 0.6 miles in diameter after an underwater volcano erupted near Iwo Jima, according to Japan Times.