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Originally published Monday, August 20, 2012 at 5:48 AM

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A look at Pacific island disputes

The Pacific Ocean is peppered with hundreds of islands - most small and uninhabited - that are claimed by more than one country. Here's a look at some of the main territorial disputes that are causing tensions among Asian nations.

The Associated Press

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The Pacific Ocean is peppered with hundreds of islands - most small and uninhabited - that are claimed by more than one country. Here's a look at some of the main territorial disputes that are causing tensions among Asian nations.

- Senkaku, or Diaoyu, Islands. Located in the East China Sea near Taiwan and the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, these remote uninhabited isles have been under Japanese control since 1895. They are seen as important because of their strategic location, and are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and may be near underwater resources such as natural gas. China claims it discovered them in the 14th century. Claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.

- Dokdo, or Takeshima. Administered by South Korea since the 1950s, these outcroppings in the Sea of Japan, called the East Sea in Korea, are inhabited only by a contingent of South Korean police. Claimed by South Korea and Japan.

- Kuril Islands. Located off the Russian Far East and Japan's northernmost main island, the southern Kurils were occupied by the Soviets in the closing days of World War II, and Japan before that. Four of the Russian-controlled islands, which have small military and civilian populations, are in dispute and have kept Japan and Russia from signing a formal treaty ending their wartime hostilities. They are a base for fishing operations and a rich source of crab. Claimed by Russia and Japan.

- Spratly Islands. A flashpoint in the South China Sea, they are comprised of hundreds of coral reefs, islets and atolls claimed entirely or in part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

- Paracel Islands. About halfway between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea, they are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. They are called Xisha in Chinese and Hoang Sa in Vietnamese. China and Vietnam had a conflict over them in the 1970s, and China has controlled them since then.

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