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Central Japan city poised to protect fireflies, ban herbicide use in some zones

An Aquatica lateralis firefly is seen inside a protected zone of the Sobuecho district in the central Japan city of Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, in this photo provided by an NPO dedicated to firefly conservation in the district.
Aquatica lateralis fireflies are seen glowing in the Sobuecho district in the central Japan city of Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, on July 9, 2019, in this photo provided by an NPO dedicated to firefly conservation in the district.

NAGOYA -- The municipal government of the central Japan city of Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, will submit a bill for an ordinance on protecting fireflies during the city assembly's next regular session which begins on Sept. 10.

    The proposal aims to protect fireflies in the city which are on the decline, and bans capturing lightning bugs and using herbicides inside conservation zones. The ordinance is the second of its kind in the prefecture, following that of the town of Shitara. The municipal government emphasized the significance of the ordinance, saying, "We want to protect fireflies, and pass on a rich natural environment to the next generation."

    The protection zones comprise some 26,000 square meters of rice paddies and fields as well as canals that stretch across three areas in the Sobuecho district in the city of Inazawa, formerly the town of Sobue. Within the zones, the capturing, extermination, and wounding of fireflies will be prohibited, as well as the use of weed killer outside paddies and fields. There are no regulations on penalties. The municipal government plans to implement the ordinance from Nov. 1, if the bill is passed in the assembly.

    A nonprofit organization (NPO) dedicated to protecting fireflies in the Sobuecho district has pushed for research on the bugs' habitat as well as moves to refrain from using agricultural chemicals since 2004. Although the NPO's investigation previously found 125 locations inhabited by fireflies in the district, lightning bugs apparently have been confirmed in numbers only inside the protected zones this fiscal year. Among reasons for the decline, the NPO cited an increase in the usage of herbicides, which leads to the disappearance of grass in paths between rice fields on which the fireflies land.

    Haruo Yamauchi, 73, the head of the NPO, commented, "We are extremely glad that we were able to gain cooperation from the city. We'd like to keep striving for environmental conservation by collaborating with administrative bodies and residents."

    (Japanese original by Shinichiro Kawase, Nagoya News Center)

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