Tsushima, Ikinoshima and Goto Retto

Tsushima, Ikinoshima and Goto Retto
Tsushima Island is an island of the Japanese archipelago situated in the north of the Tsushima Strait. The main island of Tsushima was once a single island, but the island was divided into two in 1671 by the Ofunakosiseto canal and into three in 1900 by the Manzekiseto canal. Tsushima is composed of North Tsushima Island (Kami Jima), South Tsushima Islands (Shimo Jima), and over 100 smaller islands. Generally the name Tsushima refers to all the islands. The main three islands are the largest island of Nagasaki Prefecture and the fourth largest in Japan (excluding Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido). The city of Tsushima encompasses the entire island.

The island is inhabited by Tsushima cat, wild boar, deer, martens, and mice. Migrating birds that make stops on island include hawks, harriers, eagles, and Black-throated Loons. Forest, which covers 90% of the island, consists of broad-leafed evergreens, conifers, and deciduous trees, including cypress. Honey bees are common, with many used to produce commercial honey.

Tsushima Reef, in the bay between Tsushima and Iki Island, is the northernmost coral reef in the world, surpassing the Iki Island reef discovered in 2001. It is dominated by cool-tolerant stony or Scleractinian Favia corals but the observed settling of tropical Acropora coral is expected to provide an ongoing indicator for continuing global warming.

The Imperial Russian Navy tried to establish a base on the island in 1861, but the effort failed due to British intervention.

As a result of the abolition of the han system, the Tsushima Fuchu domain became part of Izuhara Prefecture in 1871. In the same year, Izuhara Prefecture was merged with Imari Prefecture, which was renamed Saga Prefecture in 1872. Tsushima was transferred to Nagasaki Prefecture in 1872, and its districts of Kamiagata and Shimoagata were merged to form the modern city of Tsushima. This change was part of widespread reforms within Japan which started after 1854. Japan was at this time becoming a modern nation state and regional power, with widespread changes in government, industry, and education.

After the First Sino-Japanese War ended with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan felt humiliated when the Triple Intervention of the three great powers of Germany, France, and Russia forced it to return the valuable Liaodong Peninsula to China under threat of force. Consequently, the Japanese leadership correctly anticipated that a war with Russia or another Western imperial power was eventually likely. Between 1895 and 1904, the Japanese navy blasted the Manzeki-Seto canal 25 m wide and 3 m deep, which was later expanded to 40 m wide and 4.5 m deep (Nagasaki prefectural website), through a mountainous rocky isthmus of the island, between Aso Bay to the west and Tsushima Strait to the east, technically dividing the island into three islands (topographical map). Strategic concerns explain the scope and funding of the canal project by Japan during an era when it was still struggling to establish an industrial economy. The canal enabled the Japanese to move transports and warships quickly between their main naval bases in the Inland Sea (directly to the east), via the Kanmon and Tsushima Strait, into the Korea Strait, or to destinations beyond in the Yellow Sea.

An Imperial decree in July 1899 established Izuhara, Sasuna and Shishimi as open ports for trading with the United States and the United Kingdom.

During the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the Russian Baltic Fleet under Admiral Rozhestvensky, after making an almost year-long trip to East Asia from the Baltic Sea, was crushed by the Japanese under Admiral Togo Heihachiro at the Battle of Tsushima. The Japanese third squadron (cruisers) began shadowing the Russian fleet off the tip of the south island, and followed it through the Tsushima Strait where the main Japanese fleet waited. The battle began at slightly east-northeast of the northern island around midday, and ended to its north a day later when the Japanese surrounded the Russian Fleet. Few battles in history have been so decisive.

During the Korean War when the Korean People's Army approached the coastal areas of South Korea near Busan in August 1950, many prominent South Koreans took refuge in Tsushima.

In 1950, the South Korean government asserted sovereignty over the island based on "historical claims". Korea-US negotiations about the Treaty of San Francisco made no mention Tsushima Island. After this, the status of Tsushima as an island of Japan was re-confirmed. While the South Korean government has since relinquished claims on the island, some Koreans (including some members of the Korean parliament) have periodically attempted to dispute the ownership of the island.

In the 1973 one of the transmitters for the OMEGA-navigation system was built on Tsushima. It was dismantled in 1998.

Today, Tsushima is part of Nagasaki Prefecture of Japan. On March 1, 2004, the six towns on the island, including Izuhara, Mitsushima, Toyotama, Mine, Kami-agata, and Kami-tsushima, were merged to create the city of Tsushima. About 700 Japan Self-Defense Forces personnel are stationed on the island to watch the local coastal and ocean areas.

The Goto Islands (Goto-retto, literally: "five-island archipelago") are Japanese islands in the East China Sea, off the western coast of Kyushu. The islands are a part of Nagasaki Prefecture.


There are 140 islands in total, including five main islands: Fukue-jima Island (Fukue-jima), Hisaka-jima Island (Hisaka-jima), Naru-shima Island (Naru-shima), Wakamatsu-jima Island (Wakamatsu-jima), and Nakadori-jima Island (Nakado­ri-jima).

To the north is Tsushima Island in the Tsushima Strait, and to the east is Kyushu and the rest of Nagasaki Prefecture. The island is about 100 km away from the port of Nagasaki. Tsushima Current (a branch of the Kuroshio) passes around the islands.

The southern of the two principal islands, Fukue-jima Island, measures approximately 25 km north-to-south by 25 km east-to-west; the northern, Nakadori-jima Island, measures approximately 40 km north-to-south by 20 km east-to-west at its widest point. Most of Nakadori-jima Island, however, is quite narrow, measuring less than 6 km wide for much of its length. Some dome-shaped hills command the old castletown of Fukue. The islands are highly cultivated; deer and other game abound, and trout are plentiful in the mountain streams.

As a result of a merger in 2004, the city of Goto was established. It occupies Fukue-jima Island, Hisaka-jima Island, Naru-shima Island, and seven other inhabited islands. The town of Shin-Kamigoto, itself the product of a 2004 merger, occupies Nakadori-jima Island and Wakamatsu-jima Island.

The small island of Kabajima is east of Hisaka-joma Island and northeast of Fukue-jima Island.


Many of the inhabitants are descended from Christians of the Catholic-derived Kakure (hidden) Kirishitan sect, and until recently Hanare Kirishitans still lived there, but the majority either returned to Catholicism after it was legalized in the 19th century or reverted to earlier practices. The islands have numerous Catholic churches, the oldest and most famous of which is Dozaki church, built in 1868 and located about 6 km north of Fukue port.


Marine products, such as oysters and sea urchins, are the main products of the island. Natural camellia oil of Fukuejima is famous in Japan for cosmetic use.