National

Japanese government eyes Jomon Period sites for World Heritage designation

Kyodo

A government panel Thursday selected archaeological sites in northern Japan from the Jomon Period as potential UNESCO World Cultural Heritage candidates in 2020.

The ancient sites in Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita prefectures, representing a culture that occupied the archipelago for nearly 10,000 years, will vie for the candidacy against a chain of islands in the prefectures of Kagoshima and Okinawa.

Countries are allowed to recommend just one cultural or natural heritage site to be acknowledged by UNESCO each year.

The Jomon Period (10,000 to 200 B.C.) ruins are made up of 17 sites, including the Sannai-Maruyama site, a large settlement in modern-day Aomori Prefecture which had “a huge impact on people’s views” during the era, according to the website of the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites.

The panel cited the sites’ universal cultural values as a factor in their selection.

Local authorities claim the sites, which feature numerous settlements, stone circles and graves, hold global values as they offer clues to understanding prehistoric culture, which was based on hunting and food-gathering.

If recommended by the government, UNESCO’s advisory panel will conduct an on-site survey next year. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is due to make a final decision in the summer of 2020.

The Jomon site’s rival candidate is the natural site of Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands in Kagoshima, the northern part of the main island of Okinawa, and Iriomote Island, also in Okinawa.

The Sado Complex of Heritage Mines in Niigata Prefecture, which was not selected by the panel this time, will seek a UNESCO designation in 2021 or later.

Meanwhile, Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun in the prefecture of Osaka, one of the country’s largest ancient tombs, will be screened by the committee for potential registration as a cultural heritage site next year.