A UNESCO advisory panel recommended May 10 that a chain of islands in southwestern Japan with dense subtropical forests be added to the list of natural World Heritage sites, government officials said.
The listing of the 43,000-hectare area, comprising Amami Oshima island and Tokunoshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture, as well as the northern part of the main Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island in Okinawa Prefecture, is expected to be officially approved during an online World Heritage Committee session between July 16 and 31.
The advisory body assessed that the islands are crucial for the preservation of biodiversity and sought protective measures such as preventing traffic accidents involving animals and capping the number of tourists on Iriomote Island.
The registration of 2020 candidate sites, including the southwestern Japan islands, has been delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The news inspires dreams that can brighten up the atmosphere amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Amami Mayor Tsuyoshi Asayama said.
If registered, the southwestern Japan islands would become the fifth natural World Heritage site in the country after the Ogasawara Islands, which were added to the World Heritage list in 2011. (Kyodo)