• Kyodo

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The country’s oldest surviving church is to be recommended for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing along with 12 other Christian sites in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures, under a plan formalized Wednesday by the central government.

The Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church, built in Nagasaki in 1864, and the village of Sakitsu in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, where Christianity survived following a nationwide ban in the 17th century, are among several sites that the government will provisionally recommend to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization before the end of this month.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will decide whether to accept the recommendation in the summer of 2016.

The proposal was endorsed during a meeting on Wednesday of officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Cultural Affairs Agency and other institutions related to the World Heritage Convention, after a governmental panel of experts selected the locations in July.

In August 2013, Japan’s Council for Cultural Affairs recommended the same Christian locations as heritage candidates for 2015, while another panel backed old industrial facilities in eight prefectures as candidates.

Since each country is allowed to recommend only one candidate site for World Cultural Heritage listing each year to UNESCO, the government opted to recommend the industrial facilities for 2015.

At the meeting on Wednesday, the government also decided to propose that UNESCO award world heritage status to 17 structures designed by Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier as part of a joint recommendation with France and five countries.

The structures include the main building of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, and will be examined by the World Heritage Committee in 2016 ahead of a possible listing.

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