It is considered a mediterranean sea, since its perimeter is almost completely enclosed by land. Moreover, in the early Miocene the present sea was virtually entirely enclosed, when orogenic and tectonic forces began to create more well defined channels to the Pacific, such processes continuing substantively into the Pliocene.
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The Sea of Japan is noted for salinity slightly below the average of the seas of the world, very low tidal action and and low influxes of riverine inflow from the Asian mainland as well as Japan.
Geography and limits
To the north of the Sea of Japan is the Asian mainland of Russia and North Korea, with the mainland of South Korea lying to the west. Bounding the south and east of the Sea of Japan is the Japanese Archipelago.
The Strait of Korea separating the southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu from the mainland of South Korea and connecting to the East China Sea. This strait substantially opened as late as the Neogene, halting the migration of land mammals such as elephants onto the Japanese islands. In the middle of the Korea Strait is the island of Tsushima (Japan). The passage northeast of Tsushima Island is known as the Western Channel while the passage southwest of Tsushima Island is known as the Tsushima Strait.
The Kanmon Strait between the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Honshu connecting to the Seto Inland Sea and beyond it to the Pacific Ocean
The Tsugaru Strait between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido connecting to the Pacific Ocean.
La Perouse Strait (also Soya Strait) between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and the Russian island of Sakhalin connecting to the south of the Sea of Okhotsk
The Strait of Tartary between the Russian mainland and the island of Sakhalin connecting to the eastern part of the Sea of Okhotsk. The world's tenth largest river, the Amur River drains to the Strait of Tartary.
The Tsushima Current, a small branch of the warm Kuroshio Current, enters the Sea of Japan through the Tsushima Strait between Kyushu and Korea and flows out to the Pacific through the Tsugaru and La Perouse/Soya Straits.
- International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition.
- S.-C.Park, Yoo, D.-G., Lee, C.-W., Lee, E.-I. (26 September 2000). Last glacial sea-level changes and paleogeography of the Korea (Tsushima) Strait. Geo-Marine Letters 20 (2): 64–71.
- W.J.Teague, G.A.Jacobs, H.T.Perkins, J.W.Book, K.-I.Chang, M.-S.Suk. 2001. Low-Frequency Current Observations in the Korea/Tsushima Strait. Journal of Physical Oceanography 32, 1621–1641.