Gov't to strengthen administration of 400 remote islands

The government plans to establish a new council aimed at strengthening administration of Japan's 400 or so remote islands to ensure control over natural resources in surrounding waters, a government source said Monday.

Japan's fringe islands define the limits of its territorial waters and the government is keen to enhance protection of those areas in the wake of China's increasing maritime activities near Japanese territorial waters.

Using the council for coordination among related ministries and agencies, the government will conduct surveys on the 400 islands, half of which are still not named.

The government will collect environmental and other data on the islands and give names to those not yet named. It may nationalize islands without legal owners.

The council will be established after the House of Councillors election on July 21, the source said.

Japan last year completed the process of naming all 99 remote islands defining its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in which the country has sole rights for exploration of natural resources.