Mount Fuji discussed by UNESCO

Kyodo

UNESCO began discussions Friday in Phnom Penh on 30 sites nominated for World Heritage recognition, including Mount Fuji.

Sok An, Cambodian deputy prime minister and chair of the 37th World Heritage Committee meeting, announced the nominations list, which included sites in China, India and the Philippines.

Mount Fuji was 19th on the list, categorized as a cultural property.

As of Friday lunchtime, the Namib Sand Sea nominated by Namibia, the Mount Kenya-Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya and the Xinjiang Tianshan mountain range in China had been accepted, spokesman Ek Tha said.

Asked when Fuji would be discussed, a senior Cambodia official in charge of UNESCO affairs indicated the iconic mountain would probably come up Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

Mount Fuji would be Japan’s 17th World Heritage site if approved by the 21-member committee under the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The meeting will run until next Thursday.

The government officially asked UNESCO in January 2012 to register Fuji, saying the 3,776-meter mountain has been viewed as a religious site and nurtured Japan’s culture.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a UNESCO advisory panel known as ICOMOS, recommended in April that Fuji be listed but said the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove, which Japan had sought to include as part of the asset, must be excluded, citing its 45-km distance from the mountain.

The government initially sought to also register the ancient city Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, on the list but decided earlier this month to drop the effort for now after ICOMOS gave it a negative review. If the Kamakura bid went ahead and failed, it could never be nominated again, a risk the government did not want to take.

The World Heritage Committee is examining properties around the globe for listing under natural, cultural or mixed natural and cultural categories.

Other sites nominated for the World Heritage list include the Great Himalayan National Park in India, Mount Etna in Italy, El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in the Philippines and the Tajik National Park in Tajikistan.

World Heritage now lists 962 cultural and natural properties that the committee considers as having outstanding universal value.