When Japan became a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention in 1980,
Kushiro-shitugen became Japan's first Ramsar site. In 1993, neighboring
Kushiro City hosted the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting
Parties (COP5) to the Ramsar Convention, greatly raising awareness of the
objectives of the Ramsar Convention in Japan and the rest of Asia. The
number of Ramsar sites in Japan gradually increased thereafter, to reach
13 at COP8.
These numbers would soon multiply: in November, 2005 at COP9, Japan added an additional 20 wetlands, bringing the current total to 33 sites. This was achieved in response to the global objective set at COP7 in 1999 to double the then number of 1000 Ramsar sites by 2005. Japan, who only had 11 sites in 1999, was able to surpass well beyond its goals of 22 sites by 2005. In the Third National Biodiversity Strategy of Japan established in 2007, Japan set an objective to increase 10 other Ramsar sites by COP11. In response to the objective, it designated 4 new wetlands as Ramsar sites in October, 2008 at COP10.
In previous years, the majority of Japan's Ramsar sites were those primarily serving as habitats for waterfowl. However, these have expanded to include wetlands such as marshlands, lakes, salt marshes, tidal flats, seagrass/seaweed beds, beaches, mangrove forests, and groundwater systems, which reflect the abundance and diversity of Japan's wetlands. In addition, better representation of wetlands in western Japan, which were largely overlooked before, was achieved.
In designating wetlands as Ramsar sites, Japan is able to:
Wildlife Division, Nature Environment Bureau,
Ministry of the Environment, JAPAN
Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan