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1 . Japan     Japan
The islands of Japan stretch from the edge of the tropics to the mid-temperate regions, and in so doing provide one of the clearest examples of the latitudinal limits to coral growth and reef development. The southernmost islands are a long chain, the Nansei Shoto, which clearly subdivides into a series of smaller archipelagos, with the Yaeyama Islands, including the important islands of Iriomote and Ishigaki in the south, followed by the Ryukyu Islands, including the island of Okinawa. Closest to the large island of Kyushu is a final group of small islands, the Tokara Islands. Following on from these the main islands of Japan, including Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu in the south continue, with numerous offshore islands. One critical factor for reef development in these islands is the Kuroshio Current, which flows northwards along the edge of the continental shelf of the East China Sea, bringing relatively warm waters across the southern islands before passing out into the Pacific Ocean just south of Kyushu.

Away from these islands Japan also has a number of more isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Daito Islands are a small group of three islands some 300 kilometers east of Okinawa. Two are raised atolls, the third a raised platform reef. Coral growth is apparently not well developed on the steeply shelving sides of these islands. South of these there is also reported to be reef development on the isolated reef of Okino Tori-shima lying on the Kyushu-Palau Ridge. Leading southwards from Tokyo there is a sequence of small island groups which follow the volcanic South Honshu Ridge. The Izu Shoto are a widely spaced group of high volcanic islands, lying relatively far north. Further south again the Ogasawara (Bonin) and Kanzan (Volcano) Islands form two groups along a volcanic arc linking Japan and the Mariana Islands to the south. Volcanic activity and a lack of suitable substrates precludes the development of reefs on many of these islands, although rich fringing communities occur in some areas. One of the most isolated reefs, even by Pacific standards, is that of Minami-Torishima (Marcus Island) an atoll lying halfway between the Ogaswara Islands and Wake Island (USA).
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

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