Cabinet OKs bid to add Fukuoka ancient sites to UNESCO heritage list

Kyodo

The Cabinet approved on Friday recommending a group of ancient monuments in Fukuoka Prefecture for inclusion in the UNESCO cultural heritage list next year.

The government will now submit a written recommendation for the Munakata-Okinoshima monuments to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization by Feb. 1 for screening by the World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2017.

The monuments include the island of Okinoshima, home to Okitsu-Miya Shrine, which was used for prayer rituals in the fourth to ninth centuries.

A UNESCO consultative body is expected to carry out on-site research around September to decide whether it should recommend the UNESCO registration in around May 2017.

“This is a big step forward and I am truly happy,” Fukuoka Gov. Hiroshi Ogawa said in a statement after the Cabinet approval. “We intend to prepare thoroughly for the screening.”

The island lies midway between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.

About 80,000 articles unearthed on the island have been designated as national treasures, including a gold ring made on the Korean Peninsula and cut glass from Persia, now Iran.

The recommendation involves eight sites of cultural heritage, including the Munakata Taisha shrine pavilions and ancient tombs on the northern tip of Kyushu.

Five locations were cited in the government’s provisional recommendation report compiled last September. But three reefs near the island were added to the latest recommendation paper as individual heritage listings.