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Korea, Japan have first talk over Japan’s bid for world heritage

Korea, Japan have first talk over Japan’s bid for world heritage

Posted May. 23, 2015 06:57,   


Korea and Japan had its first discussion in Tokyo on Friday over the registration of Japan’s modern industrial places that include facilities where Koreans were forced to be drafted to UNESCO’s World Heritage. The discussion took place in accordance with recommendation made by members of World Heritage Center who suggested that it would be desirable for the two nations to seek for solutions through bilateral conversation.

With Choi Jong-mun, South Korean ambassador for cultural and UNESCO affairs (deputy minister level) and Jun Shimmi, the Japanese foreign ministry`s director-general for cultural affairs (director level), the talk began at 2:10 p.m. at government office building of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The talk was first known to be held for approximately ninety minutes but lasted for more than three hours. It appears that the position of the two was so different that they failed to find common ground over the issue.

Korea is said to point out that Japan is trying to distort another historical fact by listing the facilities as world heritage, disregarding the fact that the facilities were where many Koreans had been forced to work. Seoul also noted that Tokyo’s move goes against the basic principle of Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage that protects world legacy with universal values of mankind, strongly demanding Japan to display the fact that “Koreans were forcefully used as slave workers in the seven facilities.” It is known that Korea has suggested multiple options to Japan such as including its forceful draft of Korean people in the final decision letter or setting up a memorial monument in facilities concerned. “It’s not that Korea tries to obstruct the designation of the Japanese facilities as world heritage. Korea wishes that the historical facts to be displayed as they were,” a government official said.

Japan, however, is known to have stood against Korea by saying that Korea is making political claims. It is known that Japan made its case by saying that “The facilities we are trying to list are Japan’s heritage that brought about the industrial revolution to Japan from 1850 to 1910, which means that they have nothing to do with forceful draft of Koreans.”

If the two failed to reach an agreement, the decision will be made by a voting at the 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee slated to be held from June 28 to July 8 in Bonn, Germany. Given that the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a panel of civilian experts under UNESCO, has already made its recommendation to the UNESCO, it is likely for the Japanese facilities to be listed as world heritage.