Hase mulls Paris trip amid angst over UNESCO's documentary heritage listing system


Culture minister Hiroshi Hase said Friday he is considering attending UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris in November to seek a review of the documentary heritage registration system, after documents on the 1937 Nanking Massacre submitted by China were added to the list despite Tokyo’s objection.

“It is a matter of fact for us to explain our views and call for the registration system to be improved” for UNESCO’s Memory of the World program, Hase said at a regular news conference.

Hase hopes to meet UNESCO chief Irina Bokova to ask how the documents were selected.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Thursday that the listing system should be reviewed so that the program of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will not be “politically used” and secure “fairness and transparency.”

The government has been irritated by China’s successful addition of its “Documents of Nanjing Massacre” to the program on Saturday, with Suga and other officials even touching on the possibility of suspending or cutting funding to the Paris-based organization.

Suga earlier criticized the U.N. body for “unilaterally” registering the documents submitted by China without allowing Japan to access them for verification, “especially when there are conflicting views between Japan and China, and doubts about the veracity of the documents.”

According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan contributed ¥3.72 billion ($31 million) to UNESCO in 2014, making it the second-largest contributor to the institution at an 11 percent share.

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.