Christianity Sites in Japan Set to Gain World Heritage Status

Society Culture

Tokyo, May 4 (Jiji Press)--A UNESCO advisory body has recommended that sites related to Christianity in southwestern Japan be inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage list, while sites in Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures failed to gain another advisory body's backing for their World Natural Heritage registration, the Cultural Affairs Agency and the Environment Ministry said Friday.

According to the agency, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, or ICOMOS, recommended cultural heritage inscription of a total of 12 Christian sites in Nagasaki Prefecture and the Amakusa region in Kumamoto Prefecture on the grounds that they are testimonies of the distinctive cultural tradition of Christians who secretly kept their faith when the religion was banned in Japan in the 17th to 19th centuries.

In line with the recommendation, the listing of the Christian churches and related sites is expected to be approved at a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to be held in Bahrain in June and July. If the committee gives the nod, Japan will gain cultural heritage inscription approval for the 18th time and for the sixth straight year since 2013, when Mount Fuji was registered.

The Nagasaki-Amakusa sites include Oura Church, a national treasure in the city of Nagasaki, and the ruins of Hara Castle in Minamishimabara, another city in Nagasaki, in which rebels barricaded themselves during the Shimabara Rebellion in the 1630s, as well as settlements of hidden Christians.

Japan initially aimed to get the World Cultural Heritage listing of the Nagasaki-Amakusa sites in 2016 but temporarily withdrawn the bid following the ICOMOS' instruction to revise it. The country resubmitted the bid after narrowing down the components.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press