Mayor of Hagi City
ーーYou didn’t make the first list of candidates for nomination.
That’s right. When we submitted our proposals in January 2007, the Agency for Cultural Affairs decided that there needed to be continued discussions about the castle town and the industrial heritage sites. That’s when Ms. Koko Kato brought over Sir Neil Cossons, the former chair of English Heritage and an authority on industrial heritage, to see Hagi’s industrial heritage sites and participate in a symposium in our city.
ーーSir Neil Cossons played a very important role as chair of the Kyushu Yamaguchi Industrial Heritage Expert Advisory Committee.
Sir Neil Cossons is a world-renowned authority on industrial heritage. There is an industrial heritage town in England called Ironbridge that is a World Heritage site. It is where iron was produced in England during the period of the Industrial Revolution. I have heard Sir Neil Cossons was knighted for his contributions to getting the place inscribed on the World Heritage List. He served as the first director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire, England for 12 years from 1961, helping to transform the desolated gorge and surrounding area into a museum city. He was the founder of TICCIH, The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage.
Ms. Koko Kato also brought to Hagi, another distinguished visitor and world-famous authority on industrial heritage, Dr. Stuart Smith, the TICCIH Director. The whole project to have the industrial heritage sites inscribed on the World Heritage List started with Dr. Smith’s observation that they fully deserved to be listed.
The two men were very enthusiastic about Hagi. Sir Neil Cossons’ comment that the whole city of Hagi could be registered as a World Heritage site, just as had been done for the Ironbridge Gorge, is what convinced us that the project might succeed.
ーーA major feature of this group of heritage sites is that it is a serial nomination for sites distributed over eight prefectures and 11 cities.
In 2004, a group of 30 to 40 of us from Hagi traveled to Nancy, France, to trace the steps of Hokkai Takashima, a Hagi native who was sent to France to study by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. While there, we decided we should pay a visit to Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO at the time and a native of Yamaguchi Prefecture. He warned us that UNESCO’s policies were changing and it would soon become difficult to have single sites recognized as World Heritage. “If you are serious,” he said, “you should try for a serial nomination. That’s how things are going at UNESCO right now.” We nodded in sage agreement, but actually none of us understood what a “serial nomination” was. After we left Mr. Matsuura, we turned to each other: “What’s a serial nomination?” (laughs). “Maybe it means linking different sites together to tell a story?” Well, we were close (laughs again).
ーーTogether the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution trace the process of Japan’s modernization.
The year 2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. For nearly a decade in the latter half of the nineteenth century, Japan struggled as the Edo era came to a close. The most important thing at this time was to build the foundations for modernization that would put Japan on a par with the Western powers. Viewed on a map centered on the United Kingdom, Japan is a tiny island country at the far edge of the map. It was truly a miracle that this non-western nation of non-white people should succeed at modernizing itself. And we feel we have a duty to pass on the story of this miracle to those who come after us.
The Choshu domain, with Hagi as its capital, agonized over the nation’s future direction. The domain tried to enforce the 1863 imperial order to expel the barbarians and rebelled against the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Kinmon Incident the following year, causing the shogunate to send an army to punish the domain and making enemies of much of the rest of Japan. Choshu also managed to anger the four western powers enough that they sent their battleships to threaten the recalcitrant domain. It was a lone battle against enemies on all sides. The Choshu domain was nevertheless able to remain strong thanks to the valiant young men of the Shokasonjuku Academy who never wavered in their strong desire to modernize Japan. Shoin Yoshida had lit the fires of passion within them and they would not rest until the country had been industrialized and modernized.
ーーSince the inscription on the World Heritage List, the number of visitors to Hagi has increased. A large number seem to be particularly attracted to the Shokasonjuku Academy.
There is a shrine dedicated to Shoin Yoshida, leading to the misperception that he is viewed as a god. The World Heritage listing, however, made it clear that he had much to do with Japan’s early industrialization, a fact that has surprised many people. This has also served to spark renewed interest in the man and his history. Taizo Masaki, one of Shoin’s students, became the first principal of the Tokyo Higher Technical School, the predecessor of the current Tokyo Institute of Technology. It should not be forgotten that he played a significant role in the incipient stages of industrial education in Japan. Now that the Shokasonjuku Academy has been inscribed as one of the component parts of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution, I feel we have a duty to explain the profound way in which Shoin Yoshida influenced Japan’s modernization.
The Choshu Five were just one group of Shoin's students to travel overseas. Many more made their way to England, the United States, and Germany. I want the general public to know how these brave people set their eyes on the world and how they returned to lead the way to Japan’s future. I don’t think Japan’s modern history is being taught as it should be to our young people. I hope to do what I can to rectify that omission.
This serial nomination clearly reflects that fact that Japan’s modernization did not take place in one city but rather developed in various ways throughout the Japanese islands. The locations vary according to the times and type of industry. What we need to do is to link these diverse points in a single coherent story of our country’s heritage. These are places and things that can be seen and touched, and we will be applying ourselves with diligence to achieve heritage interpretation that will effectively convey this story.
Former Mayor of Omuta City
Archaeologist and Heritage Conservation Specialist
A fellow of the Japan Federation of Engineering Societies
Team Member of the Industrial Project Team Office for the Promotion of World Heritage Listing under Cabinet Secretariat
Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture
Mayor of Hagi City
Mayor of Uki City, Kumamoto Prefecture
The Former Employee of Nippon Steel Corporation
An Associate Professor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in Iwate University
Chairman of the Tourist Guide Association of Misumi West Port
President of Kuraya Narusawa Co., Ltd.
Chairman of Izunokuni City Tourism Association
Director and General Manager of Gunkanjima Concierge
Producer of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum
Owner at Tōge Chaya
Chairman: Mr. Hidenori Date
President: Mr. Masahiro Date
Proprietor, Houraikan Inn
Representative Director of Egawa Bunko non-profit incorporated foundation
The 42nd head of the Egawa Family
Democratic Party for the People (DPP) Representative for Nagasaki Prefecture
President of the NPO, Way to World Heritage Gunkanjima
MI Consulting Group
President of Watanabe Production Group and Honorary Chair of Watanabe Productions Co., Ltd.
Member of the House of Councillors
World Heritage Consultant
Director and Dean, The Kyushu-Asia Institute of Leadership
Representative Director, SUMIDA, Inc.
Journalist, founder of the Shimomura Mitsuko Ikikata Juku School
Representative, Rally Nippon
Chairman, Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution World Heritage Route Promotion Council Director, National Congress of Industrial Heritage
Representative Director, General Incorporated Foundation National Congress of Industrial Heritage (Advisor, Public Interest Incorporated Foundation Capital Markets Research Institute）
Mayor of Nagasaki City
Policy Director at Heritage Montreal
World Heritage Consultant
Executive Director of Kogakuin University
Heritage Architect and International Consultant
Head of Data Acquisition at The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation
Head of Industrial Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh
Scottish Ten Project Manager, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh
Mayor of Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Pro-Provost and Chairman of Council of the Royal College of Art. Heritage advisor of Canal & River Trust for England and Wales.
Dean of Tokyo Rissho Junior College
Professor emeritus of Keio University
Mayor of Kitakyushu City
At the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee convened in Bonn, Germany, from June 28 to July 8, 2015, the decision was approved to inscribe the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution on the World Heritage list.
At a celebratory party held to mark the occasion, some of the primary promoters of the project spoke of their joy in achieving their goal and of the trials and tribulations to getting there.
Director and Managing Executive Officer, Hanshin Expressway Company Limited
Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage
Vice-Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture
Mayor of Hagi City
Chairman, Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.
Mayor of Omuta City
Deputy Director-General, Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, MEXT
Former Counsellor, Cabinet Secretariat
Mayor of Kamaishi City
Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage Counselor, Shimadzu Limited
Chairman of the Consortium for the World Heritage Inscription of Modern Industrial Heritage (Kyushu-Yamaguchi) and governor of Kagoshima Prefecture (as of 2015)