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Japan to seek old industrial facilities' designation as World Heritage


The Japanese government will seek to have old industrial facilities entered on UNESCO's list of World Heritage cultural sites in 2015, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

The so-called "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution" comprise more than 20 facilities that represent Japan's industrialization from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, and "show the history of Japan becoming a major manufacturing power," Suga, the top government spokesman, said.

The designation would support Japan's efforts to recover from the damage done by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster, Suga said, as the sites include one for the ruins of an early furnace in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, one of the hard-hit disaster areas, which marks the dawn of Japan's modern iron manufacturing.

The facilities, mostly located in Kyushu and neighboring Yamaguchi Prefecture, also include the Yawata ironworks and the Nagasaki dockyard that are still in operation, as well as Hashima Island, that once flourished with its undersea coal mine.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee is expected to examine in 2015 Japan's proposal to be made during the current fiscal year through next March and decide whether to inscribe the facilities on the World Heritage list.

Earlier, a panel of experts at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology called for having a set of 13 Christian locations in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures added to the list.

But as countries are allowed to recommend only one World Heritage candidate each year, Tokyo will likely seek the inscription of the Christian facilities in the following year, Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura told a press conference.

Currently the World Heritage list has 981 items worldwide -- 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 of mixed heritage.

From Japan, 13 cultural and four natural sites are registered, including Mt. Fuji and the Ogasawara Islands located some 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo.