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Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining

Japan
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Human resources
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Factors identified at the time of inscription in 2015:

  • Management systems / Management Plan (Lack of a detailed conservation work programme for Hashima Island; Need to develop a prioritised conservation work programme for the property and its component sites and an implementation programme)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (Visitor levels) 
  • Management activities; Human resources (Lack of a training programme for all staff and stakeholders responsible for the day-to-day management of each component) 
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities; Management systems/Management Plan (Lack of an adequate interpretive strategy for the presentation of the property)
  • Ground transport infrastructure (Road construction projects at Shuseikan and Mietsu Naval Dock)
  • Marine transport infrastructure (New anchorage facility at Miike Port)
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure (Proposals for the upgrade or development of visitor facilities)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 29 November 2019, the Japanese authorities submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, prepared jointly by the Cabinet Secretariat, local governments, component part owners and other stakeholders, and approved by the National Committee of Conservation and Management for the property. This report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1484/documents/ and responds to the Committee’s previous decisions as follows:

  • Regarding conservation of the Hashima Coal Mine, surveys were undertaken, and the resulting data compiled to inform an Action Plan for the next 10 years. In addition to building surveys, Nagasaki City undertook archaeological surveys and record surveys and will continue this ongoing work. Scientific exploratory committees and other bodies have been set up, drawing on expert knowledge to discuss conservation methods based on research results. Nagasaki City intends to undertake further research and conservation work on a systematic basis;
  • A visitor management strategy has been created, based on the results of quantitative and qualitative surveys undertaken over the last three years. According to these surveys, the prevention of adverse impacts from the constant fluctuation in visitor numbers does not require static control (i.e. thresholds for daily/annual numbers of visitors), but rather multiple indicators to confirm the fluctuations in visitor numbers, followed by appropriate responses;
  • An Interpretation Audit was conducted at all areas by international specialists in March and August 2019 and took into consideration the Interpretative Strategy submitted as part of the State Party’s 2017 report. Interpretation at each visitor centre will be developed with a focus on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), e.g. by introducing the common exhibits for overall property indicated by the Cabinet Secretariat;
  • Regular discussions were organised between some parties concerned with the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: the relevant ministries, local government, component site owners, and managers, as well as with Japanese and international experts, local communities, and tourism operators. Discussion also took place in councils comprising local government, chambers of commerce and Industry, and tourism associations;
  • Training guidelines have been set for each category of personnel at each area and component site, and capacity-building projects were implemented accordingly. The publications ‘Understanding Steel’ and ‘Understanding Coal’ were created to improve the general understanding of the history of each industry, as a capacity-building tool for personnel engaged in permanent interpretation work on site. Similar materials for the shipbuilding industry are planned, along with guide training;
  • The State Party shared details on several development projects that may affect the property as part of the report. It indicates that studies, reports and/or Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) are in preparation for a new road construction at Shuseikan, the Mietsu Naval Dock road bridge, and a new anchorage facility at Miike Port, and that these will be shared in due time;
  • The State Party also reported on a number of other projects that were already evoked in its 2017 report, notably concerning components sites in the Hagi, Kagosihma, Saga and Yawata areas;
  • On 6 September 2019, in line with the Strategic Framework for the property, the Cabinet Secretariat held a meeting of the Industrial Heritage Expert Committee, composed of Japanese and international specialists, to gather the opinions of experts, which were reflected in the submitted report.

A meeting was held between the World Heritage Centre and the Permanent Delegation of Japan to UNESCO on 19 June 2020, during which the activities in response to Decision 42 COM 7B.10, paragraph 10 were discussed, in which the Committee encouraged ‘continuing dialogue between the concerned parties’. As a follow-up to this meeting, the World Heritage Centre received, on 24 June, a list of about 9 dialogue meetings and consultations held between the State Party and representatives of the Republic of Korea after the decision made in 2018 mentioned above.

An Industrial Heritage Information Center (IHIC) was established in Tokyo on 31 March 2020 but had to be closed immediately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the State Party, the IHIC reopened on 15 June 2020. During the aforementioned meeting on 19 June 2020, the World Heritage Centre requested further information from the State Party on the contents of the Information Center, especially with regard to ‘the interpretive strategy for the presentation of the property, which gives particular emphasis to the way each of the sites contributes to Outstanding Universal Value and reflects one or more of the phases of industrialisation; and also allows an understanding of the full history of each site” (Decision 39 COM 8B.14, Paragraph 4.g).

In the absence of further information on this matter, the World Heritage Centre wrote a letter to the Japanese authorities on 22 September 2020, reiterating the Committee’s request for “an update on the overall interpretation of the Information Center upon its completion.” (Decision 42 COM 7B.10, paragraph 8).

On 30 November 2020, the World Heritage Centre received a Report on the Implementation Status of the Interpretation Strategy, which is also available at the link above (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1484/documents/). The State Party reports the following:

  • The Government of Japan established the IHIC on 31 March 2020, but temporarily closed it to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It was then reopened to the public on 15 June 2020. Explanations of exhibits at the visitor centres in each component site are made in coordination with IHIC;
  • Concerning the Committee’s request to reflect the “full history” of each site, Japan indicates that descriptions and interpretations of the “full history” of each component site are planned at the IHIC, making use of an immersive multi-display, and in line with the Interpretative Strategy. While paying attention to the advice of domestic and international specialists, the IHIC will continue to work with each visitor centre in considering how to present the “full history”;
  • Concerning the history of workers, including “former civilian workers from the Korean Peninsula and others”, the State Party of Japan indicates that it conducted investigations of industrial labour at work sites during the World War II and collected information, focusing mainly on primary sources (“laws, official notices, public documents and documents of related organizations and corporations”) that “enable visitors to understand recruitment, official placement, requisition, and repatriation and testimonies”. Japan plans to expand on this work in the future;
  • Japan also established a certification programme for interpretation to ensure consistency in interpretation at all component sites, and training sessions were held for staff and volunteer guides and further training activities are planned. On-site and online interpretation, including through virtual visits and 3D digital reconstruction have been prepared to make the experience “more immersive”. Finally, the World Heritage Route Promotion Council prepared maps and applications, GPS navigation and road signs to guide visitors to all component parts and related sites.

It was subsequently agreed that a UNESCO/ICOMOS Mission to the property should visit the Industrial Heritage Information Center (IHIC), review its contents and provide feedback on their compliance with previous decisions of the Committee and the commitments made by the State Party at the time of inscription. Preparations for this mission were delayed due to various restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the mission eventually took place from 7 to 9 June 2021. Beforehand, the mission team already carried out a number of online consultation meetings, including with Japanese experts and other stakeholders. The mission report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1484/documents/ and a summary of the mission’s conclusions can be found in the Analysis section below.

It should be noted that, throughout the preparation of the present document, the World Heritage Centre has continued to receive numerous messages expressing strong concerns about the contents of the Industrial Heritage Information Center and the implementation of the Committee’s previous decisions, including from high-level representatives of the Republic of Korea and from various NGOs.

Regarding the development of a new train station in the buffer zone of the Shuseikan component site, the State Party provided a report to the World Heritage Centre on 17 December 2020. On 24 March 2021, the State Party provided additional information on the projects at the property such as the Update on Plans for an Anchorage Facility at Miike Coal Mine and Miike Port component site; the State Party reported that it decided not to proceed with the plan to build an anchorage facility at Miike. In response to a letter from the World Heritage Centre dated 6 April 2021, the Japanese authorities provided further information on 30 April 2021 concerning the development of a new train station in the buffer zone of the Shuseikan component site, which is currently under review by the Advisory Bodies. The Japanese authorities indicated that they would continue to provide information regarding any progress with this project.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

A detailed conservation work programme was requested for Hashima Island at the time of inscription due to the poor state of conservation of this component site. A 30-year Conservation Plan was submitted by the State Party in 2018, which envisaged three 10-year phases, for which Action Plans would be developed by Nagasaki City. In this regard, the ongoing and concluded surveys are welcome, as is the first 10-year action plan. It is regrettable, however, that this plan was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre in advance of its approval, as requested by the Committee. It is noted that the advice of the Advisory Bodies has not been requested in the development of these priority conservation measures, as also recommended by the Committee at the time of inscription in Decision 39 COM 8B.14.

Visitor numbers for each component site have been monitored since 2016, and it is noted that a visitor management strategy, including carrying capacities, was formulated in 2019 on the basis of these results. The Committee may regret that this strategy was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to its adoption, despite its earlier request, and may wish to encourage the authorities to re-examine its outcomes in the light of the relevant COVID-19 regulations.

An ‘interpretive strategy for the presentation of the property’ was requested by the Committee to allow for an understanding of the ‘full history’ of each component site (see Decision 39 COM 8B.14). Following an ‘audit by international experts’ in 2017, an Interpretative Strategy was developed in 2019. Under this strategy, interpretation at all sites will reflect the period of greatest contribution to OUV, i.e. 1850s-1910, while the ‘full history’ will include pre-1850s information at some sites and go beyond 1910 at others.  In 2020 the Industrial Heritage Information Center was established in Tokyo but no information on the contents of this Center was shared with the World Heritage Centre in advance of its opening.

It should be recalled that in a statement made at the time of inscription, the State Party indicated that ‘Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites, and that, during World War II, the Government of Japan also implemented its policy of requisition. Japan is prepared to incorporate appropriate measures into the interpretive strategy to remember the victims such as the establishment of information center’. The Committee may express its concern that the establishment of the Industrial Heritage Information Center, which is not in the physical vicinity of any component site of the property, may imply that few or no materials addressing the property’s ‘full history’ during and outside of the period of time for which the Committee has recognized its OUV are available at each component site, despite the Committee’s strong encouragements towards an ‘understanding of the full history of each site’ at the Information Centre and through digital interpretation.

Meetings held in response to the Committee’s encouragements towards ‘continuing dialogue between the concerned parties’ (Decision 42 COM 7B.10) are noted, in particular the meeting organised in February 2020 between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Republic of Korea, following the publication of Japan’s State of Conservation report to the Committee. In response to this report, the Republic of Korea has issued several non-papers and statements, expressing strong concerns over the full interpretation of the property’s history at all component sites. The Committee may therefore wish to reiterate its encouragement that continued dialogue be held with all parties involved, including international stakeholders, especially regarding questions of interpretation, and the Committee may further encourage the States Parties to use the 1972 Convention as a tool to support conservation, sustainable development, international cooperation and dialogue.

It is noted that the State Party welcomed a UNESCO/ICOMOS Mission to the Industrial Heritage Information Center in the property, which took place from 7 to 9 June 2021, and that its outcomes will be found hereunder.

Conclusions of the Report of the UNESCO/ICOMOS mission to the Industrial Heritage Information Center

The mission to the Industrial Heritage Information Center in Tokyo was required by its terms of reference to consider a number of principal factors arising from the prior decisions of the Committee and the undertaking by the State Party. In relation to each of these factors, the mission’s conclusions were as follows:

  • Interpretive strategy showing how each site contributes to Outstanding Universal Value and allows an understanding of the full history of each site (Decision 39 COM 8B.14): The mission has concluded that the interpretation strategy as implemented at the IHIC clearly demonstrates how each site contributes to OUV, and the individual interpretation plans for each site are firmly based on a common theme. Although it is acknowledged that the history of some of the sites extends to the periods before and/or after the period covered by OUV (1850s – 1910), in the opinion of the mission some aspects cannot be described as a full history because they deal only briefly if at all with the period leading up to and during the Second World War.
  • Measures to allow an understanding of a large number of Koreans and others brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions, and the Japanese government’s requisition policy (Statement by Japanese delegation at the time of inscription): The requisition policy of 1944 is acknowledged and displayed in the IHIC. The previous government actions to bring large numbers of Koreans and others to work in the industrial sites was explained to the mission during the discussions but is found only in written material within the research centre. The information displayed gives the impression that conscripted workers from other countries were considered to be Japanese nationals at the time and were treated as such. The oral testimonies displayed, which were all related to Hashima Island, convey the message that there were no instances of such people being forced to work there. The mission has therefore concluded that the interpretive measures to allow an understanding of those brought against their will and forced to work are currently insufficient.
  • Incorporation into the interpretive strategy of appropriate measures to remember the victims such as the establishment of an information center (Statement by Japanese delegation at the time of inscription): The information center (IHIC) has been established since 2020, and although it contains a variety of research material relating to the lives of workers, including oral testimonies, the mission has concluded that, to date, there is no display that could be characterised as adequately serving the purpose of remembering the victims.
  • Best international practice for interpretation strategies on the interpretation of the full history of the property both during and outside the period covered by its OUV and in the digital interpretation materials (Decision 42 COM 7B.10): The mission has concluded that in relation to the full history the interpretation strategy, for the period after the OUV, falls short of international best practice, compared with other industrial heritage sites with similar histories where the practice of people being forced to work and the use of the sites for military purposes is fully acknowledged. In relation to digital interpretation materials, the mission is of the opinion that the IHIC exemplifies best international practice that could serve as a model for other World Heritage sites worldwide.
  • Continuing dialogue between the concerned parties (Decision 42 COM 7B.10): The IHIC has had continuing dialogue with concerned parties including a number of people of Korean and other origin, most of whom (so the mission was informed) are now resident in Japan, and also with several invited international experts. The mission has concluded that some dialogue has taken place between the concerned State Parties, notably the Republic of Korea and Japan, because on 30 June 2021, the mission team received from WHC a document provided by the State Party of Japan listing meetings that had taken place between Japan and the Republic of Korea. Although the mission did not receive any information about the contents of these meetings, they appear to constitute a signal that a dialogue is actually continuing between these concerned parties. The mission considers that future dialogue is important and should be pursued.

In summary, the mission has concluded that while a number of aspects in the decisions of the Committee have been complied with, some in an exemplary way, and a number of the commitments by the State Party have also been met, the IHIC has not yet fully implemented the undertakings made by the State Party at the time of inscription, or the decisions of the World Heritage Committee both at the time of inscription and subsequently.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.30
Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan) (C 1484)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 8B.14 and 42 COM 7B.10, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 42nd session (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the UNESCO/ICOMOS mission which took place in June 2021 to the Industrial Heritage Information Center (IHIC) in Tokyo;
  4. Takes note with satisfaction that the State Party has met a number of its commitments and complied with a number of aspects of the Committee’s relevant decisions;
  5. Strongly regrets however that the State Party has not yet fully implemented the relevant decisions;
  6. Requests, in this regard, the State Party to fully take into account, in the implementation of the relevant decisions, the conclusions of the mission report, which include the following topics:
    1. Interpretive strategy showing how each site contributes to Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and allows an understanding of the full history of each site,
    2. Measures to allow an understanding of a large number of Koreans and others brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions, and the Japanese government’s requisition policy,
    3. Incorporation into the interpretive strategy of appropriate measures to remember the victims such as the establishment of an information center,
    4. Best international practice for interpretation strategies on the interpretation of the full history of the property both during and outside the period covered by its OUV and in the digital interpretation materials,
    5. Continuing dialogue between the concerned parties;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit by 1 December 2022 to the World Heritage Centre an updated state of conservation report of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.
Draft Decision : 44 COM 7B.30

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 8B.14 and 42 COM 7B.10, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 42nd session (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the UNESCO/ICOMOS mission which took place in June 2021 to the Industrial Heritage Information Center (IHIC) in Tokyo;
  4. Takes note with satisfaction that the State Party has met a number of its commitments and complied with a number of aspects of the Committee’s relevant decisions;
  5. Strongly regrets however that the State Party has not yet fully implemented the relevant decisions;
  6. Requests, in this regard, the State Party to fully take into account, in the implementation of the relevant decisions, the conclusions of the mission report, which include the following topics:
    1. Interpretive strategy showing how each site contributes to Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and allows an understanding of the full history of each site,
    2. Measures to allow an understanding of a large number of Koreans and others brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions, and the Japanese government’s requisition policy,
    3. Incorporation into the interpretive strategy of appropriate measures to remember the victims such as the establishment of an information center,
    4. Best international practice for interpretation strategies on the interpretation of the full history of the property both during and outside the period covered by its OUV and in the digital interpretation materials,
    5. Continuing dialogue between the concerned parties;
  7. Further requests the State party to submit by 1 December 2022 to the World Heritage Centre an updated state of conservation report of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Japan
Date of Inscription: 2015
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Report (2019) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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