Japan decides to drop Kamakura’s World Heritage bid

Kyodo

The government decided Tuesday to drop its effort to get the ancient city of Kamakura on the World Heritage list after UNESCO rejected the latest request.

The city and the Kanagawa Prefectural Government initiated the decision, which was backed by central governmental entities including the Cultural Affairs Agency and the Foreign Ministry.

Kamakura, located about 50 km south of Tokyo, was the seat of a samurai government from the late 12th to 14th centuries.

The government will soon notify UNESCO of the decision. Officials said it is the first time Japan has dropped a bid to get a site on the World Heritage list.

A U.N. panel, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), said April 30 it was rejecting the government’s request to list the city, citing scarce assets directly linked to the influence of the medieval samurai warrior class.

The city and prefectural governments decided to cancel the designation bid for now and make another attempt sometime in the future because it would be out of the running forever if the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee were to decide at a meeting later this month in Cambodia not to register Kamakura.

The request covered a roughly 2,000-hectare area, including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Enkaku Temple and the Great Buddha. The samurai government in Kamakura nurtured Japanese culture, including the tea ceremony and Zen rituals.

UNESCO is expected to approve the registration of iconic Mount Fuji as a World Heritage site at the meeting in Cambodia.