A new government recount is expected to increase the number of islands in Japan from 6,852 to 14,125. Geographers have noted that the current official statistics are inaccurate. The count used the same criteria as in a 1987 study conducted by the Japan Coast Guard, but with digital mapping technology to automatically count islands and cross-reference the information with past aerial photos and other data. Sandbanks were included, as they are recognized as islands according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Additionally, volcanic activity has created more islands in the last 35 years. The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan is making final adjustments to the number of islands and will release a report in March. This does not mean Japan is expanding its territory, as the islands were all counted within the country’s current 370,000 square kilometers of sovereign waters. The new study was conducted following a December 2021 parliamentary session, when a member of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party noted that the data was outdated. Japan is located along the western edge of the Ring of Fire and is in dispute with China over the sovereignty of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
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