Kyushu Christian sites pitched for World Heritage listing


Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures want the government to recommend that a group of 13 sites related to Nagasaki’s Christian past be listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Nagasaki Gov. Hodo Nakamura and Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima handed a draft proposal to culture minister Hakubun Shimomura on Tuesday and the U.N. body is expected to begin deliberating on it as soon as next year if it receives a recommendation by September.

The 13 sites include Oura Cathedral, a national treasure, in the city of Nagasaki, and the former site of Hara Castle in Minamishimabara. The site was a battlefield during the Shimabara Rebellion about 370 years ago.

Twelve of the 13 sites are scattered across Nagasaki; the other is in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Nagasaki was the starting point of Christian missions to Japan. However, the religious movement was forced to go underground for about 250 years after the Tokugawa shogunate imposed a ban on it in 1614. The end of the regime saw Christianity regain a foothold in the region.

At the meeting with the Nagasaki and Kumamoto governors Tuesday, Shimomura said the government will give due consideration to the proposal and welcomes more World Heritage sites in Japan.