A Japanese island has totally disappeared and it could change national borders

  • A small Japanese island called Esanbe Hanakita Kojima has disappeared beneath waves.
  • The uninhabited island was near Japan’s maritime border with Russia and its disappearance apparently went unnoticed by residents of the country’s main island of Hokkaido.
  • The Japanese Coast Guard is investigating the island’s disappearance.

  • Local media suggested that the island could have disappeared as a result of natural erosion and drift ice.


A small Japanese island has disappeared beneath waves, which could lead to a change in national borders.

The uninhabited tiny island, called Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, was near the maritime border with Russia and its disappearance apparently went largely unnoticed by residents of Sarufutsu, a village on Japan’s main island of Hokkaido, 546 yards (500 meters) away from the inlet in the Sea of Okhotsk, according to The Guardian.

The Japanese Coast Guard is investigating the island’s disappearance, NHK reported, though local media suggested that the island could have disappeared as a result of natural erosion and drift ice in the waters in the Sea of Okhotsk.

The disappearance of the island has Japanese officials worried that the country’s territorial waters may have shrunk.

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The inlet was one of 158 uninhabited islands that Japan gave names to in 2014 to clarify they belong in the country and expand its territory.

With the island under water, the country’s borders could shrink slightly.

Just to east of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, is a chain of islands owned by Russia that Japan refers to as the Northern territories and Russia refers to as the Kurils.

The islands were occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II, and have remained in Russia’s possession, despite Japan asking for their ownership to be restored, according to Newsweek.

When Esanbe Hanakita Kojima was last surveyed by Japan’s Coast Guard in 1987, the island protruded just 1.4 meters above the surface.

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