A western Japan prefecture which has been promoting its starry nights to tourists has enacted an ordinance to preserve the views and pass them onto the next generation.

The new rules, which ban the use of searchlights and laser beams in principle, are the first set by a Japanese prefecture to specifically conserve starry sky, according to the Tottori prefectural government.

The ordinance was enacted on Thursday and is scheduled to take effect next April.

The prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast has launched a "Catch the Star" campaign to attract tourists, saying the Milky Way is visible from any part of Tottori and that a shooting star can be seen even when a meteor shower is not taking place.

The ordinance adopted by a majority vote in the Tottori prefectural assembly bans the use of floodlights outdoors when they are not directed at a specific object. It does however allow the use of such lights for purposes such as disaster prevention.

Areas offering views of especially beautiful stars have been designated as "starry sky preservation areas" under the ordinance, and stricter rules have been set for the installation and use of lighting apparatus there.

Repeated violators will face a penalty of up to 50,000 yen ($440).

"It was great that (assembly members) recognized the value of starlit sky and agreed to preserve it. We want to make a fresh pitch of the rich nature to many people," Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai told reporters.

Similar ordinances to preserve starry night views have been adopted in the city of Ibara in Okayama Prefecture and the village of Takayama in Gunma Prefecture.

Ordinances set by Saga and Okayama prefectures to comprehensively conserve the environment have a clause restricting floodlight irradiation, according to the Tottori prefectural government.