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Okinawa islands nixed World Heritage Site status

Date Posted: 2003-10-24

A 10-year government quest to get Okinawa islands registered as a World Heritage Site has ended in failure. The U.N. agreed to name Shiretoko Peningsula in Hokkaido, but says that Okinawa lacks domestic legislation to protect its culture and environment sufficiently. In order to be nominated as the World Heritage Site, the whole area should be designated as a national park by the domestic law.

Currently only Iriomote Island and the northern part of Okinawa main island are designated as a national parks. Some commentators were quick to blame the presence of U.S. bases on Okinawa as the main obstacle to achieving the World Heritage status. “Because of the bases, Okinawa cannot become a World Heritage Site as it would make military operations within Okinawa more difficult,” a professor at Okinawa University and a strong proponent of the plan said.

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