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After a slew of recent news reports about North Korean fishing vessels washing up on uninhabited islands, as well as ongoing disputes with China over the Senkaku Islands and intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japanese waters, public and media attention on Japan’s uninhabited isles is growing.

Add to that a graying Japan, which is expected to accelerate depopulation in rural areas — especially smaller, remote islands — and it becomes clear that maintaining sovereignty over all of Japan into the future will be a tougher challenge than it may first appear.

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