- The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan has discovered that there are 7,000 more islands in Japanese territory than previously thought, bringing the total to 14,125.
- The islands surrounding Japan have been the subject of various territorial disputes, including Japan’s claims to the southern Kuril Islands and the Senkaku Islands, which have been contested by Russia and China, respectively.
The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) has recently used digital mapping to recount the country’s islands. The authority discovered that there are 7,000 more than previously thought.
The new figure of 14,125 islands is more than double the 6,852 islands that have been officially recognized since a 1987 report by Japan’s Coast Guard. However, the GSI has emphasized that this new number does not change the total land area of Japan and is simply a result of advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used for the count.
To maintain consistency with the previous survey conducted 35 years ago, the same criterion of counting all naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 meters (330 feet) was used. No artificially reclaimed land was included in the new count. It should be noted that there is no international agreement on how to count islands.
Territorial Disputes Over Japanese Islands
The islands surrounding Japan have been the subject of various territorial disputes. Among them is Japan’s claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands, which Tokyo refers to as the Northern Territories.
The dispute dates back to the end of World War II when Soviet troops seized the islands from Japan.
Japan also asserts a historical claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it presently administers. However, China has repeatedly contested Japan’s claim.
Additionally, Japan and South Korea have been embroiled in a sovereignty dispute for over 70 years concerning a group of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea refers to as the East Sea.