Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara left Narita airport Monday for the Galapagos Islands, where he will study methods of achieving symbiosis between conserving nature and tourism to apply to Tokyo’s Ogasawara Islands.

Ishihara is visiting the islands off Ecuador, which have abundant flora and fauna, as well as rare animals such as iguanas, to learn more about the ecotourism approach to conservation.

Ecotourism includes offering guided tours of preserved areas in order to teach tourists about wildlife and the environment.

During his visit, Ishihara hopes to come up with ideas that can be applied to the Ogasawara Islands, located south of Tokyo, which are described as the Oriental version of the Galapagos, metropolitan government officials said.

Ishihara is scheduled to return to Japan on June 21, three days before ballots for the metropolitan assembly election are cast and counted on June 24, according to officials.

The Galapagos Islands gained international renown after British naturalist Charles Darwin’s visit there inspired his 1859 work, “Origin of Species,” in which he introduced his revolutionary theories about evolution.

They were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.

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