• Kyodo News


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Yoshimitsu Fujiwara –
, a Shimane Prefecture official in charge of pitching the Iwami silver mine for UNESCO’s World Heritage list, expresses disappointment over the unsuccessful bid at the prefectural government headquarters Saturday.

The recommendation will make it difficult for UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to decide to register the 442-hectare remains dating back to the 16th to 19th centuries at a meeting starting June 23 in New Zealand.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, known as ICOMOS, told the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization there is not enough to demonstrate the universal value of the remains, the Cultural Affairs Agency said Saturday.

The government filed documents with UNESCO in January 2006 recommending that the silver mine be registered on the World Heritage list. ICOMOS members visited the site last October.

If UNESCO formally decides not to register the remains on the World Heritage list this year, the government needs to file documents again with additional information on their universal value to continue to seek registration.

Operations at the Iwami silver mine began in the early 16th century and lasted about 400 years. Around the 17th century, Japan accounted for about one-third of world silver production with the Iwami mine producing the bulk.

Silver produced there was used for minting coins in Japan and was shipped to China and other Asian countries, supporting trade with Western nations such as Portugal and the Netherlands.

The remains include the mine site, town, streets and the port used to ship the silver.

Japan has so far registered 13 sites on the World Heritage list — 10 cultural and three natural assets.

Among the cultural assets are Buddhist monuments in the Horyuji Temple area in Nara Prefecture, monuments of ancient Kyoto and Hiroshima’s Atomic-Bomb Dome.

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