Take, JG8NQJ will be active again as JG8NQJ/JD1 from Marcus Island, IOTA OC - 073, Minami Torishima, starting 15 September 2022.
He will operate on HF Bands CW.
QSL via JA8CJY.
Ads for direct QSL: Susumu Sanada, 5- 4- 5- 17, Shin-Ei, Kiyota, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 004-0835, Japan. DXCC DXCC Country - Minami Torishima.
QTH Locator - QL64xg.
WAZ Zone - CQ 27.
Marcus Island Minami-Tori-Shima: an isolated island hidden in the Pacific Ocean
The Minami-Tori-Shima Island is a triangular shaped island in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Its name is Japanese and means ‘Southern Bird Island’. It is also known by its other name of Marcus Island.
The life of the ocean surrounding it
This small island not only holds some legendary stories but also has some very unique factors that make it great for oceanic research amongst other things. It currently has a meteorological research station for studying typhoons and holds an extensive coral reef running from 100-1000ft. The central part of the island is 3ft below sea level and some of the strangest sea products are harvested here such as seaweed, giant squid and swordfish. The ocean depths surrounding this island are great for divers as it plunges to below 3000ft.
The significance of this piece of land is its location on the Pacific Plate, past the Japan Trench. It is the easternmost territory of Japan and is only a mere 1km stretch of land with no civilian population. The thing here is that this allows Japan to have 165 000 miles of what is known as Exclusive Economic Zone over these waters. The story of this claim to ownership is one in itself.
The discovery and passing of ownership
This island was first ever mentioned in 1694 by a Spanish captain named Andres Arriola. He chartered the island down on his map under the name Sebastian Lopez after his admiral. The admiral had been a great hero in their battle against the Dutch. Its location was left unrecorded for another 200 years after that.
A United States ship mentioned the island in 1864 and logged the name as Marcus Island which it is also known as today. A US survey ship recorded its position in 1874 and unfortunately for them, the claim for the land that was placed in 1889 was never acknowledged. It is for this reason that the Japanese were able to annexe the land in 1898 from the Americans and it was officially renamed Minami-Tori-Shima.
Between 1902 and 1968 there had been multiple transfers between the Japanese and the US over the ownership of this island. During WW1 the US even sent air craft to the island under the impression that they owned it only to find that the Japanese were living there and had multiple patrol ships.
In 1968 after much confusion the island was finally returned to the Japanese and has been till this day.
The great island dispute of 1902
A captain by the name of James Rosehill arrived on what he referred to as Marcus Island in 1889. His intention was to harvest coconuts but he ended up discovering the guano deposits in the caves that could be sold to Hawaii instead. He set his US flag at the top of a coconut tree with a note stating that the land was now property of the United States.
During this time the island had become part of the Ogasawara Islands Group and been taken by the Japanese. So when he decided to follow up on his plans of owning the island he was sadly about to start a dispute between the US and Japan over it. This then got worse and the two nations were forced into a military showdown with one another.
Captain Rosehill described that it was unfair for the Japanese to claim the island as there were no real inhabitants but rather migrant traders, fishermen and illegal bird hunters that lived there. This backfired and worked in favour for the Japanese. They were now able to claim territory on the basis of the trespassers activities on the island. And in the same light keep their hands clean by saying they had nothing to do with the Japanese government.
This is how the Japanese were able to take Marcus Island and extend their own terrain in the ocean. They renamed the island and made sure that the question of ownership was never brought up again.
The use of this island today
A lot has happened since this island was merely a fishing ground. Today it has a radio station and a weather observation centre due to its extremely isolated location. It is even considered a separate country when placed in Amateur Radio Awards.
There is one runway that cannot handle large planes and the island is mainly used for fishing or research. Civilians are not allowed on the island and it has been mainly inhabited by researchers and the Japanese Special Forces.
What is particularly fascinating about this island is what has been discovered in the past two years. You get what is called Rare Earth Metals and these metals can be used to generate power. China owned 90% of that market and would sell 60% of it to Japan each year. They discovered that these Rare Earth Metals could be found near the island and ended up discovering 6.8 billion tons of it. To put it into perspective, that is enough to supply Japan for the next 200 years based on their current consumption. This has so far been the best benefit that this island has offered to Japan as its consumption is on the rise each year.
I find it amazing to think that this island the shape of a tortilla chip has such a vast amount of untold history. It shows you that there is still so much out there that we are yet to be exposed to. If they knew about these rare earth minerals a century ago the US may have put up a bigger fight. Now the Japanese can be the ones to reap the rewards of a tiny island that seemed worth only some research and exotic seafood.
The Minami-Tori-Shima island is a well kept secret along with the inner details of its ownership and all the fighting that ensued. A tiny island in the Pacific Ocean that you can walk around in 45 minutes could hold the secret to our world energy crisis and how to overcome it.