Entire Japanese Island Disappears As Government Launches Rescue Mission
A search mission has been launched off the coast of Japan after an entire island disappeared.
The uninhabited islet of Esanbehanakitakojima was used to delineate Japan’s territorial waters.
It was located about 500 meters off the coast of Sarufutsu village near the northern tip of Hokkaido.
It is one of 158 uninhabited islands that were given names by the country's government in 2014 to clearly mark Japanese territorial waters.
Under international laws, islands can be designated as such only if they can be seen above the sea surface even in high tides.
If Esanbehanakitakojima has sunk beneath the surface, Japanese territorial waters will shrink.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, Esanbehanakitakojima was surveyed in 1987.
Records show the islet jutted 1.4meters above the average sea level.
The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan described the islet on its map based on a sea chart created in 1988.
Tomoo Fujii, a senior official of the coast guard, told reporters: “There is a possibility that the islet has been eroded by wind and snow and, as a result, disappeared."
The coast guard plans to investigate the area also to ensure safe navigation of vessels.