Culture minister pays visit to mill

Kyodo

Culture minister Hakubun Shimomura on Monday visited the Tomioka Silk Mill after the historic factory building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list over the weekend.

The minister toured the mill complex, which includes timber-frame brick masonry buildings for cocoon warehouses and silk-reeling plant, as he looked for ways to spark tourism there.

“We should think about not only ways to protect it but also to utilize it to stimulate industries such as the sightseeing business,” the minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology told reporters after his first visit to the mill in Gunma Prefecture.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee decided Saturday to add the factory building — a symbol of Japan’s industrialization starting in the 19th century that also played a leading role in the world’s silk industry — to the World Cultural Heritage list along with related sites.

The committee members mostly backed a U.N. advisory panel’s recommendation in April to give the silk mill heritage status, citing technology exchanges between Japan and Western countries from the late 19th century.