• Kyodo

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UNESCO decided on Wednesday to institute a new World Heritage registration process, which will take into account the views of relevant nations when historical and political sensitivities are involved, the Foreign Ministry said.

The decision on the new procedure, which will start in 2019, was made at an Executive Board meeting of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris after Japan criticized the U.N. body for listing Chinese documents relating to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre as a Memory of the World and withheld payments to the organization.

The board also adopted a resolution calling on UNESCO to try to avoid aggravating political tensions among member states in line with its guiding principle of mutual understanding.

Japan welcomed the decision, with a Foreign Ministry official responsible for international cultural cooperation saying, “It is a major step forward in shaking off political exploitation of the registration system.”

Tokyo had been urging UNESCO to improve the transparency and fairness of the screening and registration process after discussions on the registration in 2015 of “Documents of Nanjing Massacre,” submitted by China, were conducted behind closed doors by experts, in line with standard procedure.

UNESCO’s International Advisory Committee proposed in its report in April that the panel assessing nominations should take into account “all the comments received in its assessment,” including “objections.”

Following the listing of the Nanking Massacre documents, Japan withheld its obligatory dues of around ¥3.85 billion ($34 million) to UNESCO until last December in opposition to the listing.

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