The results of an ongoing study of the dugong, a sea mammal threatened by the planned military-civilian airport in Okinawa, will determine the steps to be studied for its protection, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa said Wednesday.

In response to a draft resolution adopted by the World Conservation Union calling on Japan to protect the dugong in Okinawa, the top government spokesman said: “Japan is aware of the necessity of preserving the environment and plans to make maximum efforts toward that goal.

“We have already said that we will conduct preliminary studies (with the Okinawa government on the dugong). We will do so quickly, and study steps for protection based on the results.”

The Henoko coastal region in Nago is inhabited by the dugong, a protected animal rare in East Asia and similar to manatees. It is also the proposed location for transferring the heliport operations of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station.

The world’s largest conservation organization said in the draft resolution that the construction of the airport will entail destruction of coral reefs in the Henoko region, consequently threatening the habitat of the dugong.

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