Number of Japan's islands more than double to over 14,000 after recount

Japan's mapping agency says it has confirmed that the country has over 14,000 islands -- more than double the previously known number -- in the first such recount in 36 years.

Officials of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan said the recount using the latest mapping data found 14,125 islands.

The number widely accepted until now was 6,852, announced in 1987 by the Japan Coast Guard.

The latest survey found that Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan has the most islands at 1,479, followed by the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido at 1,473. Kagoshima Prefecture is third, with 1,256.
Iwate Prefecture has 861, and Okinawa Prefecture 691.

The officials included only islands with circumferences of over 100 meters, and not man-made islands.

They attributed the more-than-double increase to improvements in surveying technology in recent years that allowed more accurate observation of coastal areas.

They added that the total area of Japan's territorial land and sea, as well as the number of remote islands near national borders, remain unchanged after the latest survey.