Japan is seeking to place an increasing number of natural and cultural sites on UNESCO's World Heritage list, which already has 16 properties from the nation.

Among them is the Amami and Ryukyu island chain in Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures. The governments of the two prefectures hope to put the island chain on the natural heritage list after the Ogasawara Islands were registered in 2011.

The northern part of Okinawa's main island, called the Yanbaru region, which is full of mountains and forests, is home to a number of endemic species, such as the yanbaru kuina (Okinawa rail), a flightless bird. The birds face extinction due to attacks by Javan mongooses, which were introduced into Okinawa to exterminate the habu venomous snake. The Javan mongoose is designated as an invasive alien species.