(Yanbaru Forest. Image: Japan Hotspot)
Action: Preserve the biodiversity on Okinawa IslandOkinawa Island is the largest island in the subtropical Ryukyu chain off the south-western coast of mainland Japan – and has been described as "Japan's equivalent of Hawaii."
A quarter of the Yanbaru forest on the northern tip of the island is occupied by a US military base. There are already 22 US military helipads in the training area in Yanbaru, but a further seven helipads are planned within two of the best-preserved areas in the forest, near Takae Village.
Appropriate legislation for conserving this region should be established, and Tokyo should stop construction completely.
Evidence: Yanbaru's forests are the final stand for a number of threatened endemic species such as the critically endangered Okinawa spiny rat (Tokudaia muenninki), Noguchi's woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) and Namiye's frog (Limnonectes namiyei).
Yanbaru's natural forests are critical habitat for many of Okinawa's native mammal and bird populations, but clearcutting and removal of undergrowth. A paper on the conservation value of the region warned of the "imminent extinction crisis among the endemic species of the Yanbaru forests."
(Namiye's frog is an indigenous species of frog to Okinawa. It lives only in headwaters surrounded by mountains. Image: Japan Hotspot)
And for more information about citizens' efforts to save Takae village and Yanbaru Forest at these previous posts:
• "Peaceful New Earth Celebration in Tokyo spotlights Okinawa, indigenous cultures, sustainability, & global networking"
• "Peace Not War Japan's Film/Live Music Festival Highlights Citizen Movements: Mt. Takao, Okinawa's Yanbaru Forest, Iraqi Refugees in Jordan"
• "Takae Village Sit-In Protest against US Helipads in Pristine Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa"