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More Ishigaki land gets national park status

Date Posted: 2007-02-23

Nearly a third of the lands along Ishigakiís coast that belong to the government will be assigned special national park status.

The Oceanside lands will actually be assigned to the Iromote States Park, because of land protection rules being imposed in conjunction with development of Ishigakiís new airport. The Minister of the Environment has published a directive that 31% of Ishigaki Island, over 7,022 hectares, be made part of the stateís own national park. Thatís in addition to lands owned by the state in the National Park of Iriomote Island.

Another 14,500 hectares of land outside Ishigaki Islandís ocean zone have been designated park lands as well. The new national park zone is almost half the total Japanese ocean park total.

The Ministry of the Environment is expected to ask Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima to endorse the move, after which the lands will be totally protected. It will be illegal to even cut a branch from a tree, create new roads in the zone, or do any construction work.

This is critical, because land costs have risen ten-fold in the past year, with heavy demand for new construction to accommodate a boom in immigrants. Retirees are migrating to Ishigaki, where the lifestyle is slower than on mainland Japan. Restaurants, new hotels, shops and apartments are springing up all over Ishigaki, and the demand continues to grow as the number of inquires increase about moving to the southern island.

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