National

Fire at Okinawa's Shuri Castle barely damaged original ruins

JIJI, Kyodo

The Cultural Affairs Agency has reported to the UNESCO World Heritage Center that the fire damage at Shuri Castle in Okinawa Prefecture had a minor impact on its universal value, the agency said Friday.

The agency said that the damage to the ruins of the original Shuri Castle, located underneath the fire-destroyed Seiden main hall, was only partial, accounting for 0.05 percent of the total area of the ruins.

The ruins are included in the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, which are registered as World Heritage sites.

A fire in October last year heavily damaged several buildings, including Seiden, at Shuri Castle in prefecture capital Naha. Seiden is not included in the World Heritage list.

It is widely believed that the fire was caused by an electric system problem, the agency reported, adding that there is a plan to reconstruct Seiden.

An agency official said that the preservation of Shuri Castle is likely to be on the agenda at a session of the World Heritage Committee to be held in the Chinese city of Fuzhou around June or July this year.

In December, the agency decided on a five-year plan to enhance the protection of cultural properties against fire in the wake of blazes that destroyed Shuri Castle and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last year.

The plan, to start in fiscal 2020, focuses on World Heritage sites and national treasures, and calls for installing sprinklers and fire hoses and replacing old electrical systems as well as fire-extinguishing equipment to protect the properties and tourists.

It also calls for owners of the properties to compile a disaster prevention plan, hold regular drills and enhance anti-fire measures at nighttime.

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