Government renews quest for Okinawa World Natural Heritage Site

The Japanese Government decided re-recommend the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) naming Amami-Oshima, Tokunoshima, the Northern part of Okinawa main island and Iriomotejima as a candidate for the World Natural Heritage Site on 2020.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the decision at a regular press conference.

Suga said the reason why the government decided to renew the recommendation is that propositions for natural heritage sites are evaluated preferentially and the above-mentioned places already have got certain appreciation by the advisory body of UNESCO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Thus, the possibility of the registration is high.

The Japanese Government will present nomination to the World Heritage Center by February 1st after its approval by the cabinet.

IUCN will carry out a field survey of the areas from summer to autumn next year, and the propriety of the registration will be evaluated at the World Heritage Committee that will convene in the summer 2020.

The criteria for the registration is fulfilled in categories such as the existence of endangered species in the area, and biodiversity.

The re-recommended places conflicted with Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, Northern Tohoku, and other regions.

The focus is whether “Amami and Okinawa will be recommended again,” because the quota for recommendations for World Natural Heritage Sites is limited to just one per one country in culture and nature categories.

Amami and Okinawa had aimed at the registration this summer, but IUCN advised postponing the registration demanding drastic revision of the contents in May.

The possibility of the registration was low, so the Japanese Government withdrew the earlier recommendation in June.