Building land on water isn't new. Much of New York (including the site of the World Trade Center) is built on landfill claimed from the ocean. Dubai is building islands and whole communities off its coast to expand its residential districts and attract wealth from around the world. But this story passed along from reader JV shows that Japan is taking artificial land to the next level by purposefully using man-made islands to expand its economic claims in the Eastern Pacific.

Japan has launched an innovative project to try to protect an exclusive economic zone off its coast.

Officials are planting coral to increase the land mass of rocky outcrops in Japan's waters.

Six colonies of coral have been planted around Okinotorishima, some 1,700km (1,060 miles) south of Tokyo. ...

They look like two concrete roundabouts, sitting in the middle of the sea off the southern coast of Japan.

map

Their combined land mass is just 10 sq m (12 square yards). But these rocky outcrops are important.

According to the Law of the Sea, Japan can lay exclusive claim to the natural resources 370km (230 miles) from its shores.

So, if these outcrops are Japanese islands, the exclusive economic zone stretches far further from the coast of the main islands of Japan then it would do otherwise.

To bolster Tokyo's claim, officials have posted a large metal address plaque on one of them making clear they are Japanese. They have also built a lighthouse nearby.

China isn't happy but America doesn't mind because this expansion ensures our Navy open access through the Eastern Pacific. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops.

(HT: BLDGBLOG, who has lots of pictures.)

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