Amami-Ryukyu on World Heritage list

Kyodo

The government will apply for the inclusion of the Amami and Ryukyu islands on UNESCO’s provisional list of candidates for World Heritage sites.

The Environment Ministry is hoping to secure World Heritage status for the islands in Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures in summer 2016. If the islands are registered by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as World Natural Heritage sites, it will be Japan’s fifth listing.

The Amami-Ryukyu region under consideration comprises Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa’s main island and Iriomote Island, inhabited by rare species such as Amami rabbits and Okinawa rails, ministry officials said Thursday.

It is expected to take more than a year for the ministry to define the area to be registered as a World Natural Heritage site.

The government also officially plans to recommend the Tomioka silk mill — the oldest state-run silk mill — in Gunma Prefecture as a World Cultural Heritage site. The government plans to recommend the mill to UNESCO by Friday.