By HIROTAKA KOJO/ Staff Writer
February 15, 2023 at 19:12 JST
Minami-Iwoto island is seen on Jan. 6, 2022, in Tokyo’s Ogasawara island chain, where an undersea volcano erupted the previous year. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Thanks to digital mapping technology, Japanese geographers have identified more than 7,000 islands previously unrecognized in the country’s waters.
The first such survey in 35 years revealed that the nation is made up of 14,125 islands rather than 6,852, as previously thought, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) will soon publish the findings of the study.
The findings, however, will not redraw Japanese borders as relevant areas have been under the close watch of another government team.
The Japanese archipelago comprises four main islands, several hundred smaller populated islands and many more uninhabited islets.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines an island as a “naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.”
In the last survey released in 1987, geographers counted islands with a coastline of 100 meters or longer on paper maps, according to the Japan Coast Guard, the author of the survey.
The previous study contained several inaccuracies, including smaller islands being omitted or a group of islands being recorded as one. Accurate maps were not available for some areas in the first place.
This time, the islands were counted by a computer with digitized maps created by the GSI.
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