In recounting its islands, Japan has discovered that it has 7,000 more than previously believed.
Japan’s Geospatial Information Authority (GSI) recently estimated that there are 14,125 islands in its territory, more than double the official figure of 6,852 that has been used since 1987.
While the GSI this week stressed that the new figure reflects advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used to count the land, it did not change the total area of land held by Japan.
Although no international agreement exists on how to count islands, the previous survey 35 years ago used the same size criterion.
All naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 meters (330 feet) were counted.
Artificially reclaimed land is not included in the new number.
There have been several territorial disputes involving the islands surrounding Japan.
There is a dispute between Japan and Russia over the southern Kuril islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, which were seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.
In addition, Japan claims historical ownership of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it currently administers, but China has challenged this claim several times.
There has been a dispute between Japan and South Korea over the sovereignty of a group of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea calls the East Sea.
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