Japan to preserve remote isles

The government aims to start preservation work on about 400 remote islands that are the base points in setting the nation's territorial waters.

A liaison council comprising concerned government entities, such as the Finance Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Japan Coast Guard, will soon be established to conduct a survey to collect such details as the islands' owners, their nationalities and the names of such islands.

The purpose of the survey is to reinforce the nation's control over marine resources and security. The government plans to complete the survey by the end of next year and take necessary actions, such as nationalizing remote islands without owners.

Japan comprises more than 6,000 islands that form a total of about 4.47 million square kilometers of territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), about 12 times the nation's total land area of about 380,000 square kilometers.

Remote islands are considered to be those other than Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and the Okinawa main island. About 500 are considered base points for Japan's territorial waters and EEZ. The government has been working to preserve 99 islands that are EEZ base points through a policy outline compiled in 2009 regarding the management of oceans.

The planned survey will cover the remaining 400 islands, which serve as the base points of territorial waters.

The ownership and management of many remote islands remains uncertain. Also, about 200 islands have not been named in a JCG nautical chart. 

According to a government source, some islands have been included in nautical charts but remain uncharted in a map made by the Geospatial Information Authority.

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