Japan has discovered the existence of 7,000 new islands it never knew about. There are currently 6,852 islands on record in Japan, but that number was based on a 1987 study performed by the Japan Coast Guard. In other words, it’s pretty outdated and has never been given a second glance in the more than three decades since.
The country’s government decided in December 2021 that it might be time to take another look at that data. “An accurate understanding of the number of islands is an important administrative matter that is related to the national interest,” a Liberal Democrat lawmaker said, per Kyodo News.
As it turns out, there are way more islands in Japan than initially thought. Given that the 1987 study excluded all islands with a circumference of less than 100 meters, many were misidentified as being parts of other islands when they were really their own thing. River sandbanks were also excluded, though the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says they definitely count. Finally, volcanic activity in the years since 1987 created new islands.
There are way more islands in Japan than initially thought
In total, the number of Japan’s islands is due to rise to 14,125. A report with the official number will be released by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan in the next month. This study will be much more accurate as it used advanced mapping technology in combination with good old-fashioned aerial photography. The researchers still didn’t include any islands that are less than 100 meters in circumference, so they’re not cheating, by any stretch.
That being said, this impressive discovery likely won’t change the size of Japan’s territory or waters, according to Kyodo News. Still, this is a pretty cool finding and shows just how quickly our planet can change. In the span of 35 years, they gained double the number of islands they previously thought they had!
Featured image via iStock/chrispecoraro and iStock/Jumobo