Nature & Parks

Report of the International Coral Reef Initiative(ICRI) -- Second Regional Workshop for the East Asian Seas

[International Cooperation] Report of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI)

Annex II.

Opening Address of Mr. Masahide Ota, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture

We are proud and happy to welcome the many dignitaries and interested parties from Japan and around the world who have come to attend the International Coral Reef Symposium held as a segment of the Second East Asian Seas Regional Workshop of the International Coral Reef Initiative.
Situated at the southwestern end of Japan, Okinawa Prefecture is an island group with an oceanic climate and a rich subtropical land environment. The surrounding waters hold almost ninety percent of all coral reefs in Japan, forming an environment with a rich assortment of marine life. Both as a living basis for local communities and as valued recreation areas, the coral reefs are near and dear to the people of Okinawa. Our ancestors crossed the waters of Okinawa's coral reefs to China, the kingdoms of East Asia, and to Japan on a trading route, and made a name as a people of peace.
I believe that there is profound meaning in holding this Second East Asian Seas Regional Workshop of the International Coral Reef Initiative in Okinawa Prefecture, because of its unique geographical position and history, and its support for an international program for the preservation and sustainable use of coral reefs.
In recent years, development projects and the crown-of-thorns have seriously damaged Okinawa's coral reefs. Eroded red soil in the ocean has also had an especially widespread impact. While a variety of studies and measures have been implemented to date, they have proved inadequate.
I am hopeful that the interactions and exchanges of opinion on the workshop theme of "Symbiosis with the Coral Reefs: The Ocean's Tropical Forest" will give rise to progressive proposals on future preservation efforts and on the use of the coral reefs.In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to the many people who contributed on many levels to this symposium, most notably the Director-General of the Environment Agency, Ms. Michiko Ishii.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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