Industrial sites urged for UNESCO list

Kyodo

Municipalities in southern and southwestern regions have applied to the central government to have mines and other old industrial facilities collectively added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage cultural sites in 2015.

The draft recommendation, filed Tuesday by eight prefectures, including Fukuoka and Kagoshima, and 11 cities, lists 28 facilities used in the late 19th century that contributed to the development of Japan’s heavy industries. They include a reverberating furnace in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and the Hashima coal complex off Nagasaki.

The document says the facilities are extremely important as they “demonstrate Japan’s unique process” of employing technologies imported from the West during that period.

The prefectures are hoping to win formal approval by the end of next March to recommend they be classified as cultural heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Normally, the Cultural Affairs Council, an advisory body to the education minister, decides whether to recommend facilities for the UNESCO heritage list. But since some of the industrial sites are still being used, such as the Yahata steel plant in Kitakyushu and the Nagasaki shipbuilding yard, a different group of experts will be the first to examine the merits of recommending them.