Japanese island disappears and it is baffling locals and scientists

A tiny island off the coast of northern Japan has disappeared.

The uninhabited islet, called Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, was believed to be located about 500 meters from a village called Sarufutsu, near Hokkaido.

It was originally believed to sit approximately 1.4 meters above sea level and could be easily spotted from the northern area of Hokkaido.

But now, locals and scientists are struggling to find the islet on any navigation systems.

While the vanishing act is confusing to many, it has the potential to create major dramas for Japan’s leaders.

A local fisherman first noticed the island was missing, after producing a picture book about hidden islands.

CNN reported that Hiroshi Shimizu had wanted to travel to Esanbe Hanakita Kojima for inspiration for his book, when he couldn’t find it.

The island is no longer visible from boats or the shore.

According to media outlet The Asahi Shimbun, Esanbe Hanakita Kojima was one of 158 uninhabited islands which were used by the Japanese government to mark the country’s territorial waters.

Losing one of these could have lasting impacts to trade and security in international waters.

Little is known about the island, with The Japan Times reporting it was only “officially surveyed and registered in 1987 by the Japan Coast Guard”.

“It is not impossible that tiny islands get weathered by the elements,” a coast guard official told The Japan Times.

The disappearance of the island “may affect Japan’s territorial waters a tiny bit,” she added, but only “if you conduct precision surveys”.

The disappearance comes just weeks after an entire Hawaiian island vanished beneath the ocean’s waves following Hurricane Walaka.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.