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The Japanese islands comprise 59%% mountains, 6% volcanoes and 35% hills and (mostly coastal) lowlands (Yonekura 2001). Quaternary strata excluding volcanoes occupy around 25% of the geological map of Japan, and constitute hills and lowland plains. Holocene strata are distributed mainly in the lowlands and occupy 13-15% of Japan (Murata Kano 1995; D. Kawabata 2013, pers. comm.). These extensive lowlands comprise four depositional environments, namely delta, fan delta, strand plain and barrier/estuary systems, all of which have been impacted by Holocene sea-level changes. Most of Holocene Japanese coastal plains record a hydro-isostatically controlled relatively stable to falling sea level over the last 6-7ka (Ota et al. 1981, 1987a, 1990; Nakada et al. 1991; Okuno et al. 2014). This hydro-isostatic effect varies spatially, being more strongly developed in the central rather than marginal parts of the islands (Yokoyama et al. 1996; Nakada et al. 1998; Nakada Okuno 2011; Okuno et al. 2014). Local tectonics have also strongly impacted relative sea levels since middle Holocene times, ranging from +30 m in the southern tip of the uplifting Boso Peninsula, SE of Tokyo, to-20 m in the subsiding Echigo Plain (Ota et al. 1987a, b; Shishikura 2001; Urabe et al. 2004; Tanabe et al. 2009).

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