"The Japanese government plans to register the remote islands as part of its state property to enhance their management" a news agency quoted Minister for Ocean Policy and Territorial Issues Ichita Yamamoto as saying at a press conference.

The islands are among more than 400 remote islands, many of them unnamed by the Japanese government, that are deemed by the administration to define Japan's territorial waters.

Ichita said that nearly 100 of them have already been registered as state property as they form part of what Japan sees as its broader exclusive economic zone, in which Japan conducts marine explorations and other research activities, but conceded that a great deal about the islands was still "unknown".

"I've been criticized by some opposition party members for not yet having all the information on all the remote islands and I plan to speed up the project as much as possible and it is my strong wish that the survey be completed by June," Yamamoto said.

Yamamoto added that under Japanese law the 280 ownerless islands are property of the state and the registering them as such will enable the government to effectively manage them.

Tuesday's announcement comes as Japan is embroiled in territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, including China and South Korea that have caused tensions in the region.

In September 2012, Japan claimed three of the Diaoyu islands which are also claimed by China in the East China Sea, sparking mass protests in China. The islands continue to be central to a maritime standoff and deteriorating diplomatic ties between the two countries.


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