• Kyodo

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Certificates of the preservation of wetlands were issued under an international treaty to four more sites in Japan at a ceremony Wednesday in the Uruguayan city of Punta del Este.

The four — Yoshigadaira, Hinuma, Higashiyoka and Hizen-Kashima — bring the total number of Ramsar Convention-registered sites in Japan to 50, the most in Asia, according to the Environment Ministry in Tokyo. In the world, about 2,200 wetlands are registered.

The ceremony was staged at the venue for the 12th conference of parties to the convention — adopted in 1971 at an international meeting held in Ramsar, Iran — for the conservation of internationally important wetlands.

Yoshigadaira, located in the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in Gunma Prefecture, is an intermediate moor including the Yugama crater lake of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane.

Hinuma is a brackish lake in Ibaraki Prefecture attracting migratory bluebills.

Higashiyoka and Hizen-Kashima, both located on the Ariake Sea coast in Saga Prefecture, are tidal wetlands to which migratory birds fly.

At the conference, Japan also explained its nature restoration projects, with the Kushiro International Wetland Center setting up a public relations booth.

In 1980, the Kushiro wetlands became the first Japanese site to be registered, after the convention took effect in 1975.