Ecotourism can help protect Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, the northern part of Okinawa, and Iriomote while also giving the local economy a boost.

Editorial Board, Sankei Shimbun, JAPAN Forward

Amami rabbit, a species indigenous to the islands. | © JAPAN Forward

An advisory panel of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recommended that Amami Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island be added to the list of natural World Heritage sites. Official approval is expected in July.

The four sites stretch over Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures.

Together they would become the fifth natural World Heritage site to be registered in Japan, and the first in 10 years since Ogasawara Islands (part of Tokyo) were added to the list.

With the influence of the Kuroshio Current (also known as the Japan Current and Black Current) and given their latitude, these islands have a warm and humid subtropical climate, with lush evergreen forests that are home to their own native plants and animals. The Amami rabbit, the Iriomote cat, the Lidth’s jay, and the Okinawa rail are among them. Nurtured by the natural environment of the South Seas, the region that includes the four islands is an “evolutionary jewel box.”

Biodiversity on Amami Oshima– species thought to be extinct have also bee found there. | © JAPAN Forward


By - grape Japan editorial staff.