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The same sugarcane became synonymous with this island and has played a central role in its history. Minamidaito Island was originally discovered by Russian mariners aboard the ship "Borodino" in 1820. Originally referred to as South Borodino Island on maps, it was first settled in 1899 when Han'emon Tamaki of Hachijo Island, Japan led a group of volunteers to the island. Through subsequent years, the island's population grew and the sugarcane and sugar refining businesses took hold. Following the Second World War and the subsequent geopolitical events of the era, life returned to normal on the now Minamidaito Island of Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Sugarcane was still the main agricultural crop of the island and continues to be grown there to this very day. A "sugar train" railway was built encircling the island to accommodate transport of the crop, and was still in use as recently as 1986. Minamidaito Island is also unique in that vintage sugarcane-picking machines originally imported from Australia are still used, a rarity in the world.
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