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Interview with former director-general of Japanese cultural affairs agency

Interview with former director-general of Japanese cultural affairs agency

Posted January. 28, 2022 07:58,   

Updated January. 28, 2022 07:58


“(Japan) must have enough conversations with South Korea to find a solution that can satisfy both parties, instead of rushing into having Sado gold mine registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Taking such steps can prove to be conducive to solving other issues between the two countries.”

This reporter met Seiich Kondo, the former director-general of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (2010-2013) and the president of Kondo Culture and Diplomacy Institute. During an interview on Monday, he stressed that consideration must be made for any party still concerned about the political and economic issues of the past, while acknowledging the cultural value of the gold mine. The Agency for Cultural Affairs is a ministerial body in charge of registering Japanese cultural assets in the world heritage list.

The former diplomat served as the Japanese representative of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2007. The Japanese government will make a final decision on recommending the Sado gold mine for the world heritage listing.

“If both countries listen to each other, the issue over the Sado gold mine can be solved easily, and such a process is very important,” he explained. “This can lead to reinforcing bilateral cooperation in tackling other issues between the two countries.” About Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and former Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who will play a pivotal role in the recommendation process, Mr. Kondo said they believe in “understanding each other and building mutual trust in getting the job done with a strong pride in Japanese culture.”

But Mr. Kondo pointed out the possibility where politicians in both countries are forced to take a hawkish stance on this matter, with the presidential election in South Korea scheduled in March and the Japanese House of Representatives elections in July. “Any amicable move can be disparaged as submissive, so they end up making more aggressive choices,” Kondo explained. “The hawkish remarks uttered during the campaign trail become pledges, and they often find themselves fettered by their own remarks. This has been a recurring pattern.”

“Take a spaceship and look at the Earth from space. The history between Korea and Japan is only a speck against that of our planet,” Kondo proposed when asked about the solution to the prickly relations between Seoul and Tokyo.