UNESCO register adds archive of pre-modern Japan mission to Spain

A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday.

The two assets -- both designated national treasures in Japan -- were among the roughly 80 sets of documents and materials nominated this year for inscription into the United Nations agency's program for preserving rare or ancient records and documents around the world.

At a meeting Tuesday in the South Korean city of Gwangju, the UNESCO International Advisory Committee proposed the two for inscription, the ministry was told. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova had the final authority for the selections.

The materials about the Keicho Mission to the Vatican and Spain were recommended jointly by the Japanese and Spanish governments for UNESCO listing. They are kept at the Sendai City Museum.

Under the order of Sendai feudal lord Date Masamune, the group left Japan in 1613 to negotiate trade with Spanish possessions in Mexico. They brought back a certificate according delegation leader Hasekura Tsunenaga Roman citizenship as well as portraits.

The diary "Midokanpakuki," written by Fujiwara no Michinaga (966-1027), a powerful regent in the medieval Japan, was proposed by the Japanese government. Scrolls -- a valuable source of information on Japan's imperial court culture -- are preserved by Yomei Bunko, a library in Kyoto city.

These were not the first Japanese assets put on the UNESCO archive register. In 2011, UNESCO inscribed the collection of annotated coal mine paintings and diaries of Japanese artist Sakubei Yamamoto (1892-1984).