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Monday, 6th July 2015
In General Japan News,

Japanese industrial sites added to UNESCO list

Japan is celebrating a successful bid to see 23 sites relating to its industrial revolution added to the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

The inscription of the Meiji-era sites onto the prestigious list has been controversial, due to the use of forced labour at some of the locations in the 1940s, but Japan has acknowledged this and hopes greater understanding will be achieved by visitors to the sites.

UNESCO's acceptance of the collection of areas highlights their importance to the development that occurred under Emperor Meiji's reign between 1868 and 1912.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, told Bloomberg: "Japan achieved industrialisation in just over 50 years by fusing foreign technology with traditional domestic techniques. This is a rarity in global terms, it has universal value and is worthy of treatment as a common heritage of mankind."

The sites include a steelworks, a shipbuilding yard and a coal mine. One example of the latter is located on Hasima Island and has been nicknamed Battleship Island.

Movie fans may recognise it from the Bond franchise, as it was used as the villain's lair in the Skyfall film.

As well as highlighting locations to tourists, inclusion on the UNESCO list also makes sites eligible for financial assistance to preserve them for future generations.

In a bid to counteract the concerns of those opposing the new additions to the list, Japan has reassured detractors that measures will be put in place to inform the public of their history and remember the victims.

This will include the establishment of a visitors' centre at one of the sites. Japan now has 19 sites inscribed onto the UNESCO list, with 15 of them being cultural and a further four designated as natural treasures.

Among the most fascinating places in Japan recognised by the body are the shrines and temples of Nikko and the historic monuments of ancient Nara.

Related news stories:
Japan hopes to add Fukuoka ancient monuments to UNESCO list (29th July 2015)
UNESCO supports heritage listing for Tokyo museum building (18th May 2016)
UNESCO to approve 33 Japanese festivals for heritage list (1st November 2016)
Japanese alps get UNESCO recognition (12th June 2014)