Minamidaitōjima

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For the administrative unit, see Minamidaitō, Okinawa.
Minamidaitōjima
Native name: 南大東島
Minamidaitō-jima
Minami Daito Jima ISS002.jpg
Aerial Photograph of Minamidaitōjima
Daito islands en.png
Geography
Location Philippine Sea
Coordinates 25°50′N 131°14′E / 25.833°N 131.233°E / 25.833; 131.233
Archipelago Daitō Islands
Area 11.94 km2 (4.61 sq mi)
Length 4.85 km (3.014 mi)
Coastline 18.3 km (11.37 mi)
Highest elevation 75 m (246 ft)
Country
Japan
Prefectures Okinawa Prefecture
District Shimajiri District
Village Minamidaitō
Demographics
Population 660 (as of June 2013)
Ethnic groups Japanese
Map of Minamidaitō

Minamidaitōjima (南大東島?), also spelt as Minami Daitō or Minami-Daitō, is the largest island in the Daitō Islands group southeast of Okinawa, Japan. It is administered as part of the village of Minamidaitō, Okinawa. Shimajiri District, Okinawa.. The island is entirely cultivated for agriculture, although it lacks freshwater sources. The island has no beaches or harbor, and cargo must be loaded/offloaded by crane; however the island has an airport Minami Daito Airport ( airport code "KTD").

Geography[edit]

Minamidaitōjima is a relatively isolated coralline island, located approximately 9 kilometres (4.9 nmi) south of Kitadaitōjima, the second largest island of the archipelago, and 360 kilometres (190 nmi) from Naha, Okinawa. As with the other islands in the archipelago, Minamidaitōjima is an uplifted coral atoll with a steep coastal cliff of limestone (the former fringing coral reef of the island), and a depressed center (the former lagoon of the island). The island is roughly oval in shape, with a circumference of about 13.52 kilometres (8.40 mi), length of 4.85 kilometres (3.01 mi) and an area of 11.94 square kilometres (4.61 sq mi). The highest point is 74 metres (243 ft) above sea level.

The 660 (as of June 1, 2013) inhabitants live in a village in the center of the island.

Climate[edit]

Minamidaitōjima has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with very warm summers and mild winters. Precipitation is significant throughout the year; the wettest month is June and the driest month is February. The island is subject to frequent typhoons.

Climate data for Minamidaitō
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20.1
(68.2)
20.4
(68.7)
21.9
(71.4)
24.6
(76.3)
26.9
(80.4)
29.0
(84.2)
31.2
(88.2)
30.9
(87.6)
30.5
(86.9)
28.1
(82.6)
25.0
(77)
21.8
(71.2)
25.87
(78.56)
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.1
(62.8)
17.4
(63.3)
18.8
(65.8)
21.4
(70.5)
23.9
(75)
26.3
(79.3)
28.1
(82.6)
27.9
(82.2)
27.2
(81)
25.1
(77.2)
22.3
(72.1)
19.0
(66.2)
22.88
(73.17)
Average low °C (°F) 13.7
(56.7)
14.1
(57.4)
15.5
(59.9)
18.5
(65.3)
21.3
(70.3)
24.1
(75.4)
25.5
(77.9)
25.2
(77.4)
24.1
(75.4)
22.2
(72)
19.6
(67.3)
16.0
(60.8)
19.98
(67.98)
Precipitation mm (inches) 108.1
(4.256)
80.9
(3.185)
92.4
(3.638)
103.7
(4.083)
183.4
(7.22)
207.2
(8.157)
127.6
(5.024)
192.8
(7.591)
120.7
(4.752)
169.3
(6.665)
122.9
(4.839)
120.2
(4.732)
1,629.2
(64.142)
 % humidity 70 72 75 80 84 87 82 82 81 76 74 70 77.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 117.3 114.0 141.4 171.5 177.0 200.2 262.4 233.4 227.4 181.3 122.7 106.5 2,055.1
Source: NOAA (1961-1990) [1]

History[edit]

It is uncertain when Minamidaitōjima was first discovered. It is the most likely that their first sighting was by the Spanish navigator Bernardo de la Torre in 1543, in between 25 September and 2 October, during his abortive attempt to reach New Spain from the Philippines with the San Juan de Letran. It was then charted, together with Kitadaitōjima, as Las Dos Hermanas (The Two Sisters). There is little doubt that Minamidaitōjima and Kitadaitōjima were again sighted by the Spanish in 28 July 1587, by Pedro de Unamuno who named them Islas sin Probecho (Useless Islands).[2] In 1788 the British captain John Meares named an island in the vicinity “Grampus Island”, but the recorded coordinates are not correct and it is not certain which of the Daitō island he sighted[citation needed]. The French also reported sighting an island in 1807[citation needed]. However, on 2 July 1820 the Russian vessel Borodino surveyed the two Daitō islands, and named the south as "South Borodino Island".

The island remained uninhabited until formally claimed by the Empire of Japan in 1885. In 1900, a team of pioneers from Hachijōjima, one of the Izu Islands located 287 kilometres (178 mi) south of Tokyo led by Tamaoki Han'emon (1838 – 1910), became the first human inhabitants of the island, and started the cultivation of sugar cane. The population reached 4000 in 1919. During this period until World War II, Minamidaitōjima was owned in its entirety by Dai Nippon Sugar (now Dai Nippon Meiji Sugar), which provided community services and subsidized pricing for its employees, and of whom were seasonal workers from Okinawa and Taiwan.

The island was garrisoned by the Japanese military in 1942. As the war situation worsened for Japan, many of the civilian inhabitants were evacuated to Okinawa, Kyushu or Hachijojima in 1944. The island was repeatedly bombed and shelled by the United States Navy from February to June 1945.

After World War II, the island was occupied by the United States, at which time its civilian population was 1426. The island was returned to Japan in 1972.

References[edit]

  • Kakzu, Hiroshi. Island Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities for Okinawa. Trafford Publishing (2012) ISBN 146690644
  1. ^ "Minamidaitojima Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ Welsch, Bernard (Jun 2004). "Was Marcus Island Discovered by Bernardo de la Torre in 1543?". The Journal of Pacific History (Taylor & Francis. Ltd.) 39 (1): 114, 120. 

External links[edit]