Japan just got a little bigger thanks to a volcanic eruption Wednesday that left a new island in the waters about 620 miles south of Tokyo.
The island was discovered after an eruption off the coast of Nishinoshima, an uninhabited island that is part of the Ogasawara chain, also known as the Bonin Islands. The islands are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that is responsible for most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
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Japanese authorities are refraining from naming the island, which measures only about 660 feet in diameter, because they don’t know how long it will last.
“This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared," Yoshihide Suga told The Associated Press
. “If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.”
Indeed, a new island would give Japan a stronger foothold in its claims to territorial waters in a dispute against China.
The AP said the last volcanoes in that area occurred nearly 40 years ago.
Twitter erupted with comments about the development.
The Japanese Coast Guard issued an advisory Wednesday warning of heavy black smoke from the eruption. Video shows rock and ash exploding from a crater and steam rising skyward.
The Ring of Fire has been active of late, with a massive volcanic eruption earlier this month in Indonesia sending more than 13,000 people fleeing for safety. Mount Sakurajima in southern Japan erupted in August, sending a 3.1 mile-high cloud of ash into the sky, blanketing the nearby city of Kagoshima.
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