The number of official islands in Japan is expected to double from 6,852 to 14,125 after the government conducted the first survey since 1987 of its territorial waters, according to Kyodo News.
Japan, a mountainous nation with a land mass of about 146,000 square miles, is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan, and the East China Sea.
The new survey, conducted by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, isn’t expected to increase the country’s territory, but will give officials a more accurate picture of its terrain.
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The revamped analysis was spurred 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 that is related to the national interest,” Kyodo News reports.
While Japan is mostly just cataloging islands that have been there all along but went unnoticed, the formation of new islands in the country’s terrioty is not unprecedented.
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In August 2021, Japan’s Coast Guard discovered a new C-shaped island with a diameter of about .6 miles after a submarine volcano erupted near Iwo Jima, according to the Japan Times.