Remote, unowned islets targeted for state control

Kyodo

The government will make some 280 remote islands without owners state properties to strengthen control of the country’s territory, a minister said Tuesday.

“We will register the remote islands as state property to enhance their management,” Ichita Yamamoto, state minister for oceanic policies and territorial issues, told a news conference.

The move comes as Japan is mired in territorial disputes with China and South Korea.

China has been increasing its assertiveness at sea by frequently sending government vessels to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu, and in the air by declaring a new air defense identification zone over a region of the East China Sea where the uninhabited islets are located.

The numerous remote islets are among the roughly 400 that define the country’s territorial waters, but many aren’t named.

Last year a private advisory panel to Yamamoto proposed the government set up a system to monitor ownership changes, name the islets and survey their natural environment and resources in the ocean around them.