If Japan’s 6,852 islands were not enough, add another one to that list
Last week, one of Japan’s undersea volcanoes, Fukutoku-Okanoba erupted which resulted in a new crescent-shaped island. The new landmass is located about 1200km south of Tokyo, near another island by the name of Iwo Jima. While the island came into being on 13th August, its presence was not known to the world for another two days until it was spotted by a Japanese coast guard. The guard reported clouds of steam and gas rising over 15km into the sky along with small pieces of volcanic rock floating in a 60km wide area of the ocean.
As of now, the new island is very small, only about 1 kilometer in diameter but according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, the volcanic eruption has not stopped and will continue for a while. They have also issued smoke and ash warnings for the surrounding areas and are monitoring the volcanic activity. But nothing is confirmed yet, as the island could even disappear as quietly as it came around. Apparently, this is nothing out of the ordinary for Japan who has seen the appearance and disappearance of islands even in 1904, 1914 and 1986. The most recent from those islands only lasted for two months before it was eroded away from waves and currents. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if this new island is only making a surprise appearance before it disappears, never to be seen again (I don’t think Japan is all that worried since they have about another 6000+ islands to choose from).
But in the unlikely scenario that it does become a permanent fixture, Japan would probably branch out and expand its territorial claims near the southernmost islet of Japan’s Ogasawara or Bonin island chains, even if it’s just a few hundred meters. Scientists have yet to discover what the island is really made of which could be a key factor in deciding if it would stay or disappear in a few months. If the volcanic eruption continues, it might produce enough lava flow which could create a more permanent landmass. But for now, one can only hope and see where it goes.