Even if they actually live elsewhere, at least 642 Japanese nationals have registered their legal addresses in some of the isles that are currently being disputed between Japan and neighbouring countries like China, Russia and South Korea. The number is up from the 520 surveyed last January 2011 by Kyodo News.
Japanese citizens can register as their legal residence any place that Japan has claimed, given that the place has a land number allocated by domestic authorities. The increasing number of residents that are doing this even if they don’t actually live there seems to be a reflection of the heightened tensions between Japan and the respective countries on the sovereignty over these isles.
According to the municipality of Nemuro, 196 (up from 175 in 2011) registered as their official home the four islands off Hokkaido — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islets – which are administered by Russia. Meanwhile, 102 registered the Takeshima Islands as their address up from 69 in 2011. The islets are controlled by South Korea and is known there as Dokdo Islands. After then-South Korean President Lee Myung Bak visited the islets (the first president to do so), inquiries about transferring their official domiciles to Takeshima increased to about 20 a week. Sixty-three Japanese residents registered the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea as their address. The islands, called Diaoyu by the Chinese, are currently under Japanese control but is being claimed by China, resulting in strained relations between the two countries. Another 281 citizens changed their official address to Okinotori, which is considered by China to be a group of rocks rather than an island.[ via Kyodo News ]