Japan Has Double the Islands Than Previously Thought

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kitakojima Island of Okinotorishima Islands, Japan’s southernmost island, is seen in March 2014.

Japan has more than double the number of islands previously thought, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan announced Tuesday.

The increase is said to be due to advanced surveying technology that helped count the number more accurately. As a result, there are 14,125 islands in the Japanese archipelago, up from the previous figure of 6,852 announced 36 years ago.

There is no effect, however, on the size of Japan’s surface area, territory and territorial waters.

The calculation is based on a basic digital map of the country as of January 2022 and excludes artificial islands. Any land area with a perimeter of at least 100 meters is counted as an island.

However, the remote islets that compose Okinotorishima, the southernmost border of Japan, are included as islands even with perimeters of under 100 meters.

The survey was carried out partly because of rising public interest in the country’s territory. The previous survey result was published by the Japan Coast Guard in 1987.