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Decision : 31 COM 8B.26
Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.1,

2.Inscribes Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape, Japan, on the World Heritage List under criteria (ii), (iii) and (v);

3.Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine pioneered the development of silver mines in pre-Modern Asia. It had contributed to exchange of values between East and West by achieving the large-scale production of high quality silver through the development of the Asian cupellation techniques transferred from China through Korea and the Japanese unique assemblage of numerous labor-intensive small businesses based upon manual techniques in the 16th century. The exceptional ensemble, consisting of mining archaeological sites, settlements, fortresses, transportation routes, and shipping ports represents distinctive land use related to silver mining activities. As the resource of silver ore was exhausted, its production came to an end, leaving behind, in the characteristically rich nature, a cultural landscape that had been developed in relation to the silver mine.

Criterion (ii): During the Age of Discovery, in the 16th and early 17th centuries, the large production of silver by the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine resulted in significant commercial and cultural exchanges between Japan and the trading countries of East Asia and Europe.

Criterion (iii): Technological developments in metal mining and production in Japan resulted in the evolution of a successful system based on small-scale, labor-intensive units covering the entire range of skills from digging to refining. The political and economic isolation of Japan during the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) impeded the introduction of technologies developed in Europe during the Industrial Revolution and this, coupled with the exhaustion of commercially viable silver-ore deposits, resulted in the cessation of mining activities by traditional technologies in the area in the second half of the 19th century, leaving the site with well-preserved archaeological traces of those activities.

Criterion (v): The abundant traces of silver production, such as mines, smelting and refining sites, transportation routes, and port facilities, that have survived virtually intact in the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Site, are now concealed to a large extent by the mountain forests that have reclaimed the landscape. The resulting relict landscape, which includes the surviving settlements of the people related to the silver production, bears dramatic witness to historic land-uses of outstanding universal value.

The elements of the property showing the original mining land-use system remain intact; the organic relationships among the individual elements exhibit the full expression of the mechanism of the original land-use system. They are a living part of the contemporary lives and livelihoods of the local society in unity with the abundant mountain forests and hence the integrity as a cultural landscape is maintained. The elements of the property that show the whole process ranging from silver production to shipment, in a good state of preservation and retain a high level of authenticity. In the mining settlements, there remains a group of traditional wooden buildings of 17th-20th century with careful maintenance, treatment, and repairs, retaining authenticity in terms of design, materials, techniques, functions, setting and environment.

The property and its buffer zone are adequately protected under the domestic laws and a municipal ordinance. A comprehensive management system for the whole property has been implemented under the strategic preservation and management plan. Monitoring measures are carried out annually.

4. Recommends that attention is given to putting in place the proposed management arrangements, completing the tourism and interpretation plan, and continuing with conservation work on historic structures;

5. Further recommends that a more detailed archaeological strategy is developed to address the consolidation of underground remains vis a vis the encroaching tree cover, and the investigation of water pollution, and that strategies to address new motorways and possible clay mining are adopted;

6. Also requests that, in accordance with paragraph 147 of the Operational Guidelines, a thematic study of the Iwami site and other mining sites in the region be done in collaboration with such concerned States Parties and the Advisory Bodies.

 Decisions Report
Context of Decision
Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Japan
Year: 2007
Decision Code: 31 COM 8B.26