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The government plans to boost its control over Okinotorishima Island, Japan’s southernmost territory, by improving the monitoring of approaching ships, according to land ministry officials.

Intending to protect the island, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry plans to update video cameras on the island with a 360-degree field of vision and high resolution, the officials said.

Crew members of a Taiwanese fishing vessel landed on the island without permission in May, and an abandoned ship drifted to the island this month.

If strange ships can be identified, the ministry officials said they may be able to radio them to find out why they are coming close to the island.

Located 1,700 km from Honshu, the island is uninhabited.

But it is indispensable for Japan to maintain the nation’s current exclusive economic zone, which is about 400,000 sq. km and larger than the country itself.

The island, created by an undersea volcano, is in danger of becoming submerged. The government has placed wave-dissipating blocks around it since fiscal 1987, investing about 48 billion yen.

Of the 200 million yen spent every year to protect the island from erosion, about 120 million yen is used to lease ships from private companies, the ministry officials said.

Under the latest plan, the ministry and the Japan Coast Guard are considering building a ship of their own. that can be employed for various purposes, including research on continental shelves, to reduce the budget for maintaining the island.

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