MIAMI – Marine debris teams were dispatched to assess the damage this week after a tiny, remote Hawaiian island was largely wiped off the map when a raging hurricane passed through, officials said. East Island was a low-lying island composed mainly of loose sand and gravel, and was home to threatened nesting green sea turtles and endangered Hawaiian monk seals. All but a couple of slivers of sand were erased from the already tiny island -- about 400 feet (120 meters) wide and a half mile (0.8 kilometers) long -- when Hurricane Walaka tore through earlier this month, satellite images from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed. "East Island appears to be under water," said a statement from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The protected area is managed by the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, State of Hawaii and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The land ministry plans to conduct a survey on the conditions of nursing care services for elderly people on remote islands starting this summer, according to sources. Based on the survey, the ministry will determine ways to improve services in the remote locations in cooperation with the health ministry. The land ministry is in charge of developing isolated islands. The move comes in response to complaints from residents that it is not fair to pay for the national insurance program for nursing care when there are no services that are offered in their locations. For example, only one of the seven inhabited islands that comprise the village of Toshima in the Tokara island chain in Kagoshima Prefecture has a care facility for the elderly.
There may be no better place to island hop than in the Philippines. After all, the Southeast Asian country is made up of well over 7,000 islands. The country is ethnically and culturally diverse, with influences from as near as China and as far away as Spain. Most visitors to the Philippines arrive in busy Manila, the capital located on the island of Luzon. From here, travelers can branch out with inter-island flights and boats to other areas of the country, like the pristine, Eden-like islands of Boracay and Palawan, where you'll find spectacular beaches and teeming, lush jungles.
The government is pushing ahead with plans to build new Ground Self-Defense Force bases on remote islands in the southwest in response to military threats from China. On March 26, GSDF bases are due to be opened in the city of Amami and the town of Setouchi, both on Amami Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture. About 560 troops will be stationed at the bases. Surface-to-air missile systems will be deployed at the Amami base, while land-to-sea missiles and an ammunition depot will be placed at the Setouchi base. Another GSDF base will be opened on the same day on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture.