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An Island in Japan Disappeared – What Could Be the Reason?

Apart from its colorful cities and famous landmarks, Japan has majestic islands that keep attracting tourists year after year. Unknown to many, the country is also home to a number of uninhabited islets. A recent report states that an island in Japan disappeared and there has been no proven reason behind it until now.

A few years ago, the local government of Japan named more than 150 uninhabited islands in an effort to extend the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). One of these islands is Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, the islet that quietly disappeared.

The missing island was believed to have sunk beneath the waves. This eerie event was unnoticed by the residents of Sarufutsu, a nearby village only half a kilometer away from the little island.

Fragment of the map of the Kuril Islands
Coincidentally, the island is located close to the Northern Territories (also known as the Kurils), which used to be the center of controversy between Japan and Russia. After World War II, both countries claimed the Kurils, which were highly desired for their fishing grounds and other natural resources.

This ongoing dispute is the sole reason why the countries involved have yet to sign a formal peace treaty aiming to end the war.

The Japanese government was only notified about the island’s possible disappearance after Hiroshi Shimizu, a local author, visited Sarufutsu last September to collect resources for his new picture book about the islands of Japan.

According to Asahi Shimbun, a local newspaper, Shimizu reached out to the local fishery cooperatives to check on the island. It was then confirmed that the location where the island used to lie is now an empty sea.

Three decades have passed since the island was last surveyed. Back then, Esanbe Hanakita Kojima protruded about 1.40 meters above the surface.

The Japan Coast Guard also made a conclusion that wind and drift ice may have caused the island’s erosion. They are scheduled to visit the location to verify the island’s disappearance. Once confirmed, Japan’s EEZ will shrink by approximately 500 meters.

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