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Symposium on Henoko-Oura Bay “Okinawa’s Treasure, the World’s Treasure: Let’s pass it on to the future”

on July 10, 2018 at 4:20 pm under

Henoko-Oura Bay

Symposium on Henoko-Oura Bay

On March 24th, 2018, the Okinawa Prefectural Government organized the Symposium on Henoko-Oura Bay with a view to raising awareness over the preciousness of Henoko-Oura Bay.

Publisher’s Note: The government of Japan is constructing a new U.S. military base by reclaiming waters and land in Henoko’s Oura Bay, which is home to much biodiversity.  As a result, many Okinawans are opposed to the construction of a new base.

In an effort to disseminate information and promote understanding of this ecologically sensitive issue, we’re sharing these views from the Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division Executive Office and the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Takeshi Onaga.  Their desire is the protection of the “internationally precious water area of Henoko and Oura Bay.”

Henoko-Oura Bay

Henoko-Oura Bay

Henoko-Oura Bay in the northern part of Okinawa Island, Japan, is a beautiful area blessed with a diverse marine environment.  With its coral reefs, seagrass beds that the dugong feed upon, and sandy mud bottom, the area supports and sustains various forms of life and is Okinawa’s treasure.

Henoko-Oura Bay

On April 15, 2014, dugong feeding trails were found at 20 meters below the water surface near Chiri bishi. Photo by Team Zan.

Okinawa’s treasure is facing a crisis, however.  The Japanese and U.S. governments are now land reclaiming this marine area as part of their plan to construct a U.S. military base in Henoko-Oura Bay.  The Okinawa prefectural government believes that construction work must stop immediately to protect this irreplaceable treasure.

Establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) to protect ecosystem services.


IUCN offers seven categories of protected areas. Depending upon the category, certain activities are allowed (green) and other activities are prohibited (red). By: François Simard

With a strong sense of urgency, the Okinawa Prefectural Government held the Symposium on Henoko-Oura “Okinawa’s Treasure, the World’s Treasure: Let’s pass it on to the future” on March 24, 2018.  Co-sponsored by The Nature Conservation Society of Japan, the Symposium aimed to encourage people to gain a better understanding of the value of Henoko-Oura Bay.

Keynote Speaker François Simard (IUCN Marine Expert) presented Marine Conservation: Global Challenges and ways forward in relation to Aichi target 11 and SDG 14. Following the keynote speech, experts from Japan and abroad, as well as those that have long carried out studies on the Oura Bay and/or engaged in its conservation efforts, contributed their expertise to the panel discussions.

Henoko-Oura Bay

Crustacean Species Diversity and Habitat Diversity in Oura Bay, by Yoshihisa Fujita (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts).

Henoko-Oura Bay

Panel Discussion “Let’s Pass Henoko-Oura Bay on to the Future.”

Vital Japan-U.S. Alliance: Create Effective Land Use

“Okinawa Prefectural Government regards the Japan-U.S. alliance as vital. However, we have a concentration of 73.9% of the exclusive use facilities and areas of U.S. Forces in Japan in a land area that is no more than 0.6% of the national land area. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce and consolidate U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

With the realization of land returns of U.S. military bases south of Kadena Air Base, we can anticipate positive economic and employment impacts through effective land use.

Establish the prefecture as a hub of exchange by taking advantage of our geographical location, to bridge people, goods, and information between mainland Japan and other Asian nations. It is our desire to actively promote international contribution and do our part for peace and advancement of the Asia-Pacific region.” ~ March 30, 2018, Okinawa Prefectural Government

Henoko-Oura Bay

Most facilities for U.S. Forces are located in Okinawa Island, taking up to 18.4% of its land area. Land area of Okinawa Island is roughly 1/3 that of Rhode Island, which is the smallest state in the U.S.

Resources for the International Community

The Okinawa prefectural government created a booklet to provide the international community with a summary of the presentations delivered at the symposium (Editor: The Nature Conservation Society of Japan (NACS-J).  Please find below links to the Summary Report of the Symposium on Henoko-Oura Bay “Okinawa’s Treasure, the World’s Treasure: Let’s pass it on to the future,” handouts, as well as videos from the Symposium:

Symposium on Henoko-Oura Bay: Summary Report (PDF 4,486KB)

Remarks by the Governor Onaga (in Japanese)

Keynote speech by Mr. François Simard (in English)

Lecture by Mr. Masato Yoshida (in Japanese)

Presentation by Mr. Taro Hosokawa (in Japanese)

Presentation by Ms. Mariko Abe (in Japanese)

Panel discussion 1 (in Japanese)

Panel discussion 2 (in Japanese)

Panel discussion 3, Statement and Closing Remarks (in Japanese)

Henoko-Oura Bay

For much more subject history and in-depth information, visit the Okinawa Prefecture website devoted to this issue.

Large diffusion is encouraged to protect the beautiful and precious sea area in Henoko-Oura Bay.  The prefectural government hopes that many people read this booklet and encourage their countries and their organizations to join our efforts to protect the globally significant marine area of Henoko-Oura Bay as the world’s treasure.

Henoko-Oura Bay

Blue coral colony at Chiri bishi. The size of the colony is 50 m in length, 30 m in width and 12 m in height. Photo by Osamu Makishi.

~ By Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division Executive Office of the Governor

Point of Contact:

Henoko Base Construction Countermeasures Division
Executive Office of the Governor


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