After Nanking Massacre uproar, culture minister to lobby for UNESCO reforms at key meeting

JIJI, Staff Report

Culture minister Hiroshi Hase said Friday he will visit Paris for seven days from Thursday to attend a UNESCO general — the first time in 10 years that a Japanese culture minister will attend the biennial conference.

Hase is scheduled to deliver a speech calling for reforms to the U.N. body’s Memory of the World program.

Earlier this month, UNESCO listed documents pertaining to the 1937 Nanking Massacre in its Memory of the World registry, as recommended by China. The move came despite repeated calls by Tokyo to carefully consider Beijing’s application.

Japanese officials argued that the historical materials being presented are not verified as authentic by third-party historians or other countries involved in political rows over the materials.

Tokyo disputes the number of Chinese civilians and soldiers killed by the Japanese military following the 1937 capture of Nanking, citing historians’ estimates ranging from tens of thousands to 200,000, while Beijing claims over 300,000 were killed.

Speaking at a news conference, Hase said he will also hold talks with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to discuss Japan’s contributions to the organization and ways to reform the memory program.

In response to the registration of the Nanking Massacre records, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has indicated Tokyo’s readiness to stop or reduce its financial contributions to UNESCO, while the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Foreign Affairs Division has adopted a resolution demanding that the registration be withdrawn.