Video: Surveying the Senkaku Islands (Uotsurijima)

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    Yesterday, the Tokyo metropolitan government sent a team to survey several of the Senkaku islands.

    The survey started early Sunday morning and finished shortly before 4 p.m.

    All activities were conducted from a boat, as the central government had turned down the metropolitan government’s request, filed on Aug. 22, for permission to land on the islets for the purpose.

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has expressed his intention to visit the East China Sea islands himself in October when he sends another survey mission.

    Sunday’s surveying team had 25 members, including Tokyo government officials, real-estate appraisers and ocean policy experts. Their activities were primarily targeted at determining the asset values of three of the rocky, uninhabited islets: Uotsurijima, Kita-kojima and Minami-kojima, said Seiichiro Sakamaki, chief of the Tokyo government’s department in charge of Senkaku affairs, who headed the survey team.

    The survey is a step forward in Tokyo’s plan to purchase the islands. The national government may try to purchase the islands instead. The islands are currently privately owned by an elderly businessman who lives in Saitama prefecture.

    Here are some excerpts from a video filmed by Professor Yoshihiko Yamada of Tokai University, an expert who was a member of the survey team:

    The video reveals some interesting information about Uotsurijima.

    • A lot of trash appears to have washed ashore, littering the lower areas of the island.
    • There is a small stream of water coming down the side of a hill. If it is fresh water, it could mean that the islands could support human habitation.
    • Goats, which were introduced to the island in 1978, are eating too much of the local vegetation. Hillsides have been stripped bare and are eroding.
    • A large cave on the southern tip of the island is impressive enough to become a sightseeing attraction.

    The survey team also visited the smaller islands of Minami Kojima and Kita Kojima, where they observed large numbers of birds.

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