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Japan's Amami island picked as Natural World Heritage site

UNESCO recognizes 4 southwestern isles for rare species and mangrove forests

The forests of northern Okinawa's Yanbaru region are home to a diversity of life. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

PARIS -- UNESCO will recognize Amami Oshima and other islands in Japan's southwest as a World Heritage site for their array of one-of-a-kind animal and plant species, the United Nations agency decided Monday.

The designation also covers Tokunoshima and Iriomote, along with the northern part of Okinawa's main island. Altogether, they represent Japan's 24th World Heritage site and the fifth natural heritage site.

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