The Japan Coast Guard is seeking 33.7 million yen to build the first lighthouse on Okinotori Island, Japan’s southernmost point, for completion in February 2007, officials said Monday.

Coast guard chief Hiroki Ishikawa has said the lighthouse is necessary to prevent accidents in waters near the isle.

The move, which follows the installment of an address plate on the island by the government in June, is believed to be aimed at supporting the country’s claim to the tiny uninhabited isle and to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone around it.

China contests Japan’s claim, saying Okinotori is not an island but merely a rock. The isle is in an atoll and its outer perimeter is protected by a concrete embankment because it could be submerged at high tide.

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