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The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan recently discovered that the country has 7,000 more islands than it previously thought.

Following a digital mapping exercise the number increased significantly since the last report in 1987 by the Japanese Coast Guard.

The GSI emphasised this week that the new figure is a reflection of advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used for the count.

Although the new islands have now been added, it doesn’t change the overall area of land in Japan’s possession.

The GSI said that while there is no international agreement on how to count islands, it had used the same size criterion as the previous survey 35 years ago. This included counting all naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 metres.

Japan is in a dispute over its islands with other countries including Russia, China and South Korea. While Japan claims islands located close to these countries belong to them, the other countries are challenging this.

The southern Kuril islands dispute dates to the end of World War II when they were seized from Japan by Soviet troops. The uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are currently being administered by Japan, but China has challenged that claim on several occasions.

Japan and South Korea have been involved in a dispute for more than 70 years over who owns the islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo. These islands are located in the Sea of Japan.

Image credit: CNN

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