Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama on Monday asked the central government to recommend that the legacies of gold and silver mining in the prefecture and their related facilities be candidates for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage designation in 2019.
Yoneyama made the request during a meeting with Hirokazu Matsuno, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, ahead of a government panel's decision expected by the end of July.
The Niigata Prefectural Government hopes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will put the main mining area on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan on its list of World Heritage sites.
The island was long known as Japan's gold production center, and the Aikawa gold and silver mine, designated an important national cultural property in Japan, is at the core of the recommendation request. The mines have a history dating back more than 400 years from around the beginning of the 17th century.
The Niigata Prefectural Government stressed in its written request that the facilities collectively signify "a valuable historical showcase telling stories about mining and people engaged in it, which is exceptional from a global viewpoint."
A group of archaeological sites in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region, and ancient tumulus clusters in Osaka Prefecture, are also expected to be included in the bids.