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Help create a beautiful island we can proudly show the world

By: Edo Heinrich-Sanchez for the Okinawa Prefecture Culture & Environment Division

Date Posted: 2003-07-05

Okinawa attracts numerous tourists from mainland Japan and from all around Asia because of its beautiful beaches, ocean, unique culture and subtropical climate; however, in and around our island we can find trash strewn about: cans, cigarette butts, bento boxes and plastic bags. Littering and dumping by careless people is not only bad for the environment, but destroys the natural beauty of our island.

This general carelessness creates a negative image adversely affecting Okinawa's tourism industry. Government programs like the "Clean Green Gracious" program and volunteer sponsored movements such as the "I Love Okinawa" campaigns have helped to create awareness about our island environment and the problem of trash. Thousands of people have participated in cleanups removing tons of trash from streets, beaches and campsites. Nonetheless, we still have a problem with people that continue to dump and litter.

In order to address this problem, Okinawa Prefecture approved the "Chura Shima - Environment Beautification Ordinance" last July. ("Chura" is the word for 'beautiful' in the local Okinawan language and 'Shima' is the Japanese word for 'island'.) This anti-litter ordinance went into full effect on January 1, 2003. By order of the Governor of Okinawa, those who are found littering will be issued a warning and asked to pick up their trash. People that do not comply will be fined 20,000. This is the first time that the Prefecture has put this type of ordinance into effect. Local municipal laws will also continue to be enforced.

In order to celebrate the first anniversary of the "Chura Shima" ordinance, Okinawa Prefecture together with Okinawa Law Enforcement Agencies, municipal governments and volunteer organizations will join hands to launch the "Chura Shima" campaign on July 1st. 2003. The prefecture has suggested three easy steps that everyone can follow immediately to help "Keep our island beautiful": (1) Don't litter. (2) Take your trash home after going to the beach or camping. (3) Join in a local cleanup campaign or start your own. Many organizations can provide you with the information and materials to start a cleanup in your area.

The "Chura Shima - Environment Beautification Ordinance" is one step in the right direction to help control our litter problem. Other programs that include education and awareness are also being implemented. Our environment is a precious resource that should be handed down to future generations. The realization that we live on an island paradise will help everyone continue the "Chura Shima" spirit.

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