A Small Japanese Island has Vanished

We heard that it’s only Japan’s population that’s shrinking. However now, its country is too. In October, a tiny island just off its coast had gone missing. The inhabitants living in the village of Sarufutsu in Hokkaido, nearly as far north (paywall) as one can go in Japan noticed this strange thing.

According to Japans coast guard, three decades back, a survey was carried out which measured that the island was about 1.4 meters above the sea level. Japanese officials gave a name to the rock, Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, four years ago. Its part of 158 uninhabited islands that Japan named then in order to simplify that they belong to the country.

The probable vanishing of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima has bothered Japanese officials because the island forms part of Japan’s marine border line, meaning that the size of Japan’s territorial waters may have shrunk. The coast guard says it plans to inspect what happened to the island. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an island is defined as “a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.”

A local maritime official said that the island may have disappeared due to the natural corrosion by waves and coast ice in the frosty and unsettled waters of the Sea of Okhotsk. The sea separates Hokkaido from Russia’s Sakhalin Island. Japanese officials said that an operation will be done to discover the island’s status.

Japan isn’t the only country to lose an island in recent times. East Island, an 11-acre-island roughly 400 miles northwest from the Hawaiian island chain, was cleaned off the map after a powerful Pacific hurricane brushed off through the state previous month. And with seas rising and growing warmer, let’s hope the other islands fare better than this one.


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