Report: Japan Has Twice as Many Islands as It Thought

Recount finds more than 14K islands
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2023 10:05 AM CST
Report: New Count Doubles the Number of Japan's Islands
The Kujuku Islands in Nagasaki prefecture are known as the "99 Islands," though there are at least 208 of them.   (Getty Images/Jumoobo)

For an island nation, Japan appears to have been very bad at counting islands for a very long time. Sources tell Kyodo News that the newest official count will more than double the number of the country's islands, from 6,852 to 14,125. In the last count, about 35 years ago, the Japanese coast guard counted by hand all the islands shown on paper maps with a circumference greater than 100 meters (328 feet) and didn't include islands in lakes.

In the latest count, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan—GSI—used digitized maps to count islands automatically, as well as aerial photos to cross-reference the results. They found more than 100,000 islands, but only the ones with a circumference of 328 feet or more are included on the official list. The results of the new count, which was made after complaints that the old figures were out of date, will be officially released in the next few weeks, the Guardian reports. Authorities say the new count is unlikely to affect the size of Japan's territory or the extent of its territorial waters. (Read more Japan stories.)

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