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Japan’s latest World Natural Heritage Site

Islands and forests in Kagoshima and Okinawa to be inscribed later this year

Japan's southern islands of Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima and Iriomote, as well as the Yanbaru Region in the north of Okinawa Island, are expected to become Japan's newest UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in July 2021. It will be Japan's 5th Natural World Heritage Site.

The areas under consideration are all found in the subtropical Nansei island chain that runs between Kyushu and Taiwan and is part of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures. The islands have been separated from the continent and other landmasses for millions of years, and therefore harbor a significant number of endemic and rare animals and plants, including the Iriomote leopard cat, the Amami rabbit and the Okinawa rail.

The areas considered for addition:

Iriomote Island

Iriomote is largely undeveloped, with nearly 90 percent of its land covered by dense jungle and mangrove forests. The island's attractions are based around tours to Iriomote's abundant nature including kayaking, fishing, sailing, snorkeling and hiking.