Under the expansion request, filed in November 2008, Japan gains access to seabed resources in areas near Okinotori, a small, mostly submerged atoll south of Tokyo, which Japan marks as the southernmost point of its territory. The U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf said the approved expansion is equivalent to about 82 percent of Japan's total land area.
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea usually limits such claims to seabeds to 200 nautical miles. Kyodo News reported an exception could be made if a coastal state can prove the seabed is connected to its continental shelf.
China and South Korea opposed the expansion, claiming Okinotori does not qualify as an island.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]