The government made it clear on Dec. 1 that it will finish surveying 277 outlying islands and complete registering them as national property by the end of the current fiscal year. The 277 islands without owners are among 491 remotes islands used as the base point for demarcating Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Bearing in mind China’s maritime forays, the government intends to enhance the control of Japan’s territorial waters by making clear the ownership of those outliers.
“Some of those islands are so remote from the mainland that collecting and compiling survey data required extra time, but now the government seems to be able to finish the process by the end of this month,” said Minister in charge of Ocean Policy and Territorial Issues Jun Matsumoto at a session of the House of Councillors special committee on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement held on Dec. 1. “By using the data, the government will have relevant ministries and agencies register those islands as national property, which is expected to be completed by the end of this fiscal year,” the minister stated in reply to a question from independent lawmaker Kuniko Koda.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the significance of the registration by saying, “In order to protect Japan’s maritime interests, we need to defend islands that are situated along the border.”
With regard to regulating land transactions around defense-related facilities including remote islands, Abe said: “Land transactions involving national borders and outlying islands are serious issues that could affect Japan’s national security. I want to continue considering what measures are necessary for regulating such transactions.”
China has repeatedly intruded into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands (Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture), and a South Korean capital has acquired real estates in Tsushima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture. Given such facts, attention is being paid to the need for regulatory measures from the viewpoint of national security.