1.         Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara (Japan) (C 870)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/870/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/870/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Potential negative impact of an express highway to the property;

b) Potential negative impact of large-scale events commemorating 1300th Anniversary of Nara Heijo-kyo capital, planned to take place on the property in 2010.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/870/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 1 February 2011, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. The report provides an overview of the current progress of the discussion towards the establishment of a groundwater monitoring system and risk mitigation plans in order to prevent any negative impact on the buried cultural properties beneath the site, which might have been caused by the construction of the expressway, while also presenting the current condition of the Nara Palace Site following the Commemorative Events of the 1300th Anniversary of Nara Heijo-kyo Capital that took place on the site last year.

a) The Yamato-Kita Road highway

The State Party reported that the “Yamato-Kita Road Groundwater Monitoring Study Committee” held its 5th meeting on 22 December 2010, where discussions focused on the groundwater monitoring area during the actual construction of the road. Design of the groundwater monitoring system and risk mitigation plans have not yet been completed. The State Party intends to establish this before the construction work starts within the section adjacent to the Nara Palace Site. However, neither a concrete timetable for completion of the plan nor the starting date for construction have been determined, as priority is being given to work in other areas of the site. The State Party has confirmed that they will report to the World Heritage Committee on the progress of the discussion.

 

b) Nara Heijo-kyo Palace Site

The State Party reported that temporary facilities and structures set up on the Nara Palace Site for the Commemorative Events concluded on 7 November 2010, would be removed by the end of March, 2011. Nevertheless, some of these temporary provisions have been retained on the site (pavement, earthen mounds and other facilities) to support construction of temporary parking lot, bus terminal, restrooms. The State Party noted that these facilities are necessary for ensuring visitors security and effective access to the site until permanent facilities have been constructed outside of the Palace in about 5 years. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies suggest that all temporary facilities put in place for the Commemorative Events be removed as previously promised by the State Party, and requests that design of any temporary and permanent visitors facilities be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

With regard to the National Government Park Project, the State Party reports that they have planned for the reconstruction of the corridors with earthen walls around the Front Courtyard of the Former Imperial Audience Hall Compound, and that these are currently surrounded by temporary fences. The reconstruction plan will be developed along  national guidelines and the result of the study implemented by the experts’ committee established in September 2010, to maintain its Outstanding Universal Value, but no plan as yet has been determined.

However, the State Party report does not respond to the World Heritage Committee recall that “any reconstruction project should have to be based only on complete and detailed documentation and to no extent on conjecture”, nor does it provide the “full justification of the rationale for the reconstruction including the detailed evidence on which it is based” requested of the World Heritage Committee. The State Party notes that a Study Committee was established in September 2010, and this Study Committee will eventually submit the requested rationale. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies remain very concerned by the reconstruction plans, as in their view the evidence for reconstruction of long vanished elements of this archaeological site can not be achieved without significant conjecture. They would stress the importance of the State Party urgently providing the reconstruction rationale (including all documentary evidence) previously requested by the World Heritage Committee.

In response to the World Heritage Committee’s request that the State Party clarify how the conservation policies at each of the eight sites of the property are harmonized to ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is maintained and presented, the State Party mentioned that the National Government Park (NGP) project relates only to the Nara Palace Site, among the eight sites. The State Party also reported that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), which is the proprietor of the NGP project will work closely with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan which will coordinate the project in co-operation with the Nara Prefectural Government, Nara City and the owners. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies stress the importance of establishing a permanent institutional co-ordination mechanism to ensure the harmonized implementation of conservation policies for all sites of the inscribed property. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, whilst noting the progress made on the establishment of a groundwater monitoring system and risk mitigation plans at the site, reiterate the need for a concrete timetable for completion of the monitoring plan, and for the detailed information on all aspects of the planned construction of the Yamato-Kita Road highway, for further review. They stress the need for addressing the requests made by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session concerning removal of all temporary facilities put in place for the Commemorative events of 2010. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies stress the need to provide a conservation rationale (including all evidence) for any planned reconstruction of corridors at the Nara Heijo-kyo Palace site. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.71

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.76, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Notes that the State Party has not removed all of the temporary facilities associated with the Commemorative Event and plans to retain some of these until such time as permanent visitor facilities can be constructed, and urges it to proceed with the removal of all such structures, as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee;

4. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines:

a) plans for both temporary and permanent visitor facilities,

b) details of progress towards the establishment of the groundwater monitoring system and risk mitigation plans and plans for construction of the Yamato-Kita Road highway,

c) an overall conservation rationale for all planned reconstruction work at the corridor of the Nara Heijo-kyo Palace site, including detailed plans and the evidence on which they are based before any reconstruction work is approved;

5. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above.