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Minami Torishima

Minami-Tori-shima
Native name: 南鳥島
Nickname: Marcus Island
Aerial photo from 1987
Geography
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates

24°17′12″N 153°58′50″E / 24.28667°N 153.98056°E / 24.28667; 153.98056Coordinates: 24°17′12″N 153°58′50″E / 24.28667°N 153.98056°E / 24.28667; 153.98056

Total islands 1
Area 1,332,000 m2 (14,338,000 sq ft)
Coastline 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
Highest elevation 9 m (30 ft)
Country
Demographics
Population no civilian population

Minami-Tori-shima (南鳥島?) or Marcus Island is an isolated Japanese coral atoll in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, located some 1,848 kilometres (1,148 mi) southeast of Tokyo and 1,267 kilometres (787 mi) east of the closest Japanese island, South Iwo Jima of the Ogasawara Islands, and nearly on a straight line between mainland Tokyo and US' Wake Island, which lies 1,415 kilometres (879 mi) further east southeast. The closest island, is the East Island of the Mariana Islands, which is 1,015 kilometres (631 mi) west south-west of Minami-Tori-shima. The meaning of its Japanese name is "Southern Bird Island". It is the easternmost territory belonging to Japan, and the only Japanese territory on the Pacific Plate, past the Japan Trench. Although very small (just over 1 km2) and without a civilian population, it is of strategic importance, as it enables Japan to claim a 428,875 square kilometres (165,589.6 sq mi) Exclusive Economic Zone in the surrounding waters. It is also the easternmost territory of Tokyo, being administratively part of Ogasawara village.

Geography

Minami-Tori-shima is triangular in shape, and unusual in that it has an inverted-saucer like profile, with a raised outer rim of between 5 and 9 metres (16 and 30 ft) above sea level. The central area of the island is 1 metre (3 ft) below sea level. Minami-Tori-shima is surrounded by a fringing reef which ranges from 50 to 300 metres (164–984 ft) in width, enclosing a shallow lagoon, which is connected with the open ocean by narrow passages on the southern and northeastern sides. Outside the reef, the ocean depths quickly plunge to over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The island has a total land area of 1.2 square kilometres (300 acres). The island also has the highest average temperature in Japan.[1]

History

The first discovery and mention of an island in this area was made by a Spanish Manila Galleon captain, Andrés de Arriola in 1694.[2] However, it is likely that first sighting occurred much before, in 1543, due to Spanish navigator Bernardo de la Torre.[3] Its exact location was left unrecorded until further sightings in the early 19th century.


The island was mentioned again in 1864 by the ship Morning Star, belonging either to the United States or the Kingdom of Hawaii, and was given the name “Marcus Island”. Its position was recorded by a United States survey ship in 1874, and first landed on by a Japanese national, Kiozaemon Saito in 1879. On June 30, 1886 a Japanese named Shinroku Mizutani led a group of 46 colonists from Haha-jima in the Ogasawara Islands to settle on Marcus Island. The settlement was named “Mizutani” after the leader of the expedition. The Empire of Japan officially annexed the island July 24, 1898,[4] the previous United States claim from 1889 according to the Guano Islands Act not being officially acknowledged. The island was officially named “Minami-Tori-shima” and placed administratively under the Ogasawara Subprefecture of Tokyo.

Sovereignty over the island before World War I was apparently disputed as various sources from the time move the island from the American to Japanese domain without specific explanation. In 1902, the United States dispatched a warship from Hawaii to enforce its claims, but withdrew on finding the island still inhabited by Japanese, with a Japanese warship patrolling nearby. In 1914, William D. Boyce included Marcus Island as an obviously American island in his book, The Colonies and Dependencies of the United States. In 1933, by orders of the Japanese government, the civilian inhabitants of Minami-Tori-shima were evacuated. In 1935, the Imperial Japanese Navy established a meteorological station on the island, and built an airstrip.

After the start of submarine, using a channel cut through the reef on the northwest side of the island. That channel is still visible today.

The Treaty of San Francisco transferred the island to American control.[8] The island was returned to Japanese control in 1968.

In 1964 the U.S. Coast Guard opened a LORAN-C navigation station on Marcus Island, whose mast was until 1985 one of the tallest structures in the Pacific area. LORANSTA Marcus Island was billeted for 23 U.S. Coast Guard personnel. Those stationed at the site were based there for one-year tours with a visit to mainland Japan at the six-month point. At the end of this isolated tour of duty each crew member received an additional 30 days of compensatory leave. While under U.S. administration, on Thursdays a C-130 Hercules from the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, would resupply the island on weekly missions. Often Coast Guardsmen would judge landings by raising placards with large numbers. An unusually long four-hour ground time was scheduled to allow technicians who flew in to perform maintenance on the transmitter and to offload extra fuel from the C-130 to power the island's generator. It also allowed the Coasties to read and answer letters while aircrews would snorkel and collect green glass fishing buoys that wash up on the shore. It takes about 45 minutes to walk around the island.

The station was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) on September 30, 1993 and was closed on December 1, 2009.

The island is currently used for weather observation and has a radio station, but little else. Because of its isolation, it is of some interest to amateur radio hobbyists. The JMSDF garrison was supplied by C-130 from Iruma Air Base, or by YS-11 from Haneda or Atsugi Air Base with flights via Iwo Jima on a weekly basis. The runway of Minami Torishima Airport is only 1300 meters long, and cannot handle larger aircraft. The island is considered as a separate country for amateur radio awards. The island is off-limits to civilians, except from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

In 2012, Japanese scientists discovered about 6.8 million tons of rare earth elements ("REEs") near the island, enough to supply Japan's current consumption for over 200 years. Around 90% of the world's production of REE comes from China, and Japan imports 60% of that.[9]

Climate

Minami-Tori-shima has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw), with warm to hot temperatures throughout the year. The wettest months are July and August, while the driest months are February and March.

Climate data for Minamitorishima (1981 - 2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 28.9
(84)
29.0
(84.2)
30.2
(86.4)
31.0
(87.8)
34.0
(93.2)
34.9
(94.8)
35.5
(95.9)
34.2
(93.6)
33.9
(93)
33.5
(92.3)
31.7
(89.1)
30.3
(86.5)
35.5
(95.9)
Average high °C (°F) 24.7
(76.5)
24.3
(75.7)
25.3
(77.5)
27.2
(81)
29.0
(84.2)
30.9
(87.6)
31.3
(88.3)
31.0
(87.8)
31.0
(87.8)
30.3
(86.5)
28.7
(83.7)
26.6
(79.9)
28.3
(82.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) 22.3
(72.1)
21.6
(70.9)
22.4
(72.3)
24.2
(75.6)
26.0
(78.8)
27.8
(82)
28.4
(83.1)
28.2
(82.8)
28.3
(82.9)
27.8
(82)
26.4
(79.5)
24.3
(75.7)
25.6
(78.1)
Average low °C (°F) 20.3
(68.5)
19.3
(66.7)
20.2
(68.4)
22.2
(72)
23.8
(74.8)
25.5
(77.9)
26.0
(78.8)
25.9
(78.6)
26.1
(79)
25.8
(78.4)
24.6
(76.3)
22.4
(72.3)
23.5
(74.3)
Record low °C (°F) 14.6
(58.3)
14.2
(57.6)
14.2
(57.6)
16.4
(61.5)
19.1
(66.4)
20.0
(68)
22.3
(72.1)
22.5
(72.5)
22.4
(72.3)
21.9
(71.4)
19.2
(66.6)
16.7
(62.1)
14.2
(57.6)
Precipitation mm (inches) 71.7
(2.823)
43.2
(1.701)
42.6
(1.677)
72.4
(2.85)
90.3
(3.555)
61.4
(2.417)
153.2
(6.031)
167.3
(6.587)
99.7
(3.925)
80.3
(3.161)
70.3
(2.768)
97.2
(3.827)
1,053.6
(41.48)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.5 mm) 11.3 8.6 7.4 7.8 8.9 8.3 13.8 16.6 14.2 11.7 9.4 12.2 130.2
 % humidity 70 69 74 79 78 76 77 79 78 77 75 74 76
Mean monthly sunshine hours 166.1 178.5 227.7 237.6 274.0 299.4 274.1 252.0 256.8 250.6 213.8 175.5 2,805.3
Source #1: Japan Meteorological Agency climate normals
Source #2: Japan meteorological Agency climate extremes


See also

Notes

References

  • Bryan, William A.: A monograph of Marcus Island; in: Occasional Papers of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Vol. 2, No. 1; 1903
  • Kuroda, Nagahisa: Report on a trip to Marcus Island, with notes on the birds; in: Pacific Science, Vol. 8, No. 1; 1954
  • Lévesque, Rodrigue: The odyssey of Captain Arriola and his discovery of Marcus Island in 1694; in: Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 32, No. 2; 1997, pp. 229–233
  • PUB 158 JAPAN Volume 1, [1]
  • Sakagami, Shoichi F.: An ecological perspective of Marcus Island, with special reference to land animals; in: Pacific Science, Vol. 15, No. 1; 1961
  • Welsch, Bernhard: The asserted discovery of Marcus Island in 1694; in: Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 36, No. 1; 2001, pp. 105–115
  • Welsch, Bernhard: Was Marcus Island discovered by Bernardo de la Torre in 1543?; in: Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 39, No. 1; 2004, pp. 109–122

External links

  • Minami Torishima info and pictures
  • Marcus Island sunrise, sunset, tides
  • Geographical Survey Institute of Japan website
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