Okinotorishima, the island claimed by Japan that is 1,700 kilometers southeast of the Home Islands, is getting some repairs to keep it above water.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said Friday plans are afoot to repair the typhoon-beaten concrete bulwarks of remote Okinotori Island, which Japan claims as its southernmost point, ministry officials said.

The concrete bulwarks, which protect part of rocky outcrop from being submerged, were put in place 20 years ago. (Link)

Flckr photo of dubious provenance. No endorsements of J-nationalists implied in photo's use. Looks like Shintaro Ishihara.

Here’s a picture of Okinotorishima I found online. (More here.) The island is round, so you can get a feeling for how small it is. Apparently there are two islands, one as big as a small bedroom, and the other as big as a twin size bed. In the case of the photo above, my understanding is that the actual rock is inside the metal ring.

Why is Okinotorishima important? Under international law, Japan is able to project a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone extending into the sea from all Japanese territory. Okinotorshima may only be two islands collectively not much bigger than a small bedroom, but the territorial math works out like this:

EEZ squared x pi = 125,600 square miles (roughly 400,000 square kilometers)

So, that piece of rock as big as a teenager’s bedroom entitles Japan to exclusively develop 125,600 square miles of seabed, and everything underneath.

チャーチング

Okinotorishima is kind of a big deal. Japanese nationalists love it, as does industry. MSDF cadets are taken to Okinotorishima and allowed to walk on top of it, “as an example of Japanese territory”–no doubt also to indoctrinate them early on to the righteousness of one of Japan’s more iffy territorial claims. And, as the world’s resources get divided up, many in Japanese government have no choice but to fall in line. Nobody’s really sure what’s under the waves there, but it may be there are more resources there than in all of Japan. That may sound like hyperbole, but Japan is resource-poor, and Japan makes things, and Japan’s future lies in its ability to secure resources.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch