According to new digital mapping by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI), there are 14,125 islands in Japanese territory, more than double the official number of 6,852 since a report by the Japanese Coast Guard in 1987.
The GSI this week emphasized that the revised figure did not alter the total area of land under Japanese control; rather, it represented improvements in surveying technology and the level of precision in the maps used for the count.
Although there is no international consensus on how to count islands, it was stated that the survey employed the same size criterion as the one conducted 35 years prior.
To do it, all naturally occurring land areas with a radius of at least 100 meters have to be counted (330 feet).
Artificially recovered land is not included in the updated total.
Several territorial disputes have their roots in the islands that surround Japan.
Japanese troops were captured by Soviet forces at the close of World War II, and Japan now asserts ownership of the southern Kuril islands, which are now under Russian control. Tokyo refers to these islands as the Northern Territories.
China has often disputed Japan’s historical claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it currently controls.
The sovereignty of a collection of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea refers to as the East Sea, has been a source of contention between Japan and South Korea for more than 70 years.