The Agency for Cultural Affairs will recommend the region surrounding the ancient town of Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, be named a UNESCO World Heritage site, aiming for registration in 2008, agency officials said Friday.

The Council for Cultural Affairs, an advisory body to the education minister and the commissioner of cultural affairs, endorsed the plan at a meeting of its subpanel on cultural assets.

The government is expected to approve the recommendation at a meeting of representatives from ministries and agencies in September and file an application in January with the World Heritage Center of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Hiraizumi was northern Japan’s political and cultural center for nearly 100 years in the 11th and 12th centuries of the Heian Period (794-1192). During the 100 years, the area was ruled by the Oshu Fujiwara clan and was independent of Kyoto. The area encompasses the town of Hiraizumi and the cities of Oshu and Ichinoseki.

Hiraizumi’s world heritage promotion office describes on its Web site that the town’s “cultural heritage is characterized by Kyoto-influenced yet unique Buddhist temples, monasteries and gardens.”

Japan has 13 sites put on the World Heritage list — 10 cultural assets and three natural assets. Among the cultural assets are the Buddhist monuments in the Horyuji area of Nara Prefecture, ancient monuments in Kyoto and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb dome.

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