Mayor of Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture
■ Shizuoka Prefecture and the surrounding cities and towns worked together as one to promote the site’s registration.
——It will soon be a full two years since the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution were inscribed on the World Heritage list. Mayor Ono, could you share with me again your feelings when the inscription was announced and the reaction at that time from the residents of Izunokuni?
First, the ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) recommendation was announced on May 4, 2015, which was a major step toward inscription, and my joy on that day was indescribable. Then, on July 5, the scene in Bonn, Germany, where the UNESCO World Heritage Committee was meeting, was being shown to the public live via satellite at the Nirayama Jidai Theater, so all of our residents shared the joy of the inscription decision together. Up until that point, even though the town and all of the citizens had worked so hard, honestly, we still had some doubt as to whether we would really become a World Heritage site, and so there was a degree of relief as well. I was so delighted.
——Mayor Ono, how were you personally involved in the efforts to have the site inscribed on the World Heritage list up to that point?
When the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace was added as one portion of the serial nomination of sitess, I was still in the Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly. Looking back, it was about two years prior to the inscription recommendation that I began working in earnest on the project as mayor, from around the time I went to lobby Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. I received an urgent phone call from Mayor Koji Nomura of Hagi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture, saying, “We’re in a pinch about the recommendation to UNESCO for our Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution. We’re heading over to the Cabinet Office and we want you to come with us.” At the time, as I explained to you before, in the lead-up to the Cabinet decision there was a fierce tug-of-war going on among the relevant agencies and the local governments about which would be recommended first, the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” or the “Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki,” which they decided to recommend again last year. It was really the moment of truth, the turning point.
We all went together to see Secretary Suga and then Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Akihiro Ota, repeatedly stressing the value of these modern industrial sites and the importance of their preservation. I’ll tell you more about it later, but I was actually writing an original opera featuring Egawa Hidetatsu Tarōzaemon, who built the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace, as the main character, and so I have read about 25 volumes of documents about Duke Hidetatsu. For that reason, I think I was pretty useful for the presentation to the national government. (Laughs) In the end, I heard that Secretary Suga fought for us in the Cabinet, and so we were successfully placed on the tentative list.
——Was that around the time that you met Koko Kato, director of the National Congress of Industrial Heritage, who was promoting the World Heritage plan?
That’s right. I had heard a lot about her, but in fact that visit to Secretary Suga’s office was the first time we had met. She’s a very powerful individual, and the passion that she had as she worked on this effort left a strong impression. If it had not been for Ms. Kato, I am certain that we would not have been successful in the bid for the World Heritage inscription, so I am deeply grateful and have great respect for her.
I am hoping to continue to cooperate with the National Congress of Industrial Heritage on various efforts. We are currently working on the issue of how best to create an excursion route that connects the 23 component properties, which extend across 11 cities in 8 prefectures, and I hope that Ms. Kato will continue to play a leadership role, so I am thinking of asking for her guidance.
—— Meanwhile, in what ways have you been cooperating and collaborating with the local governments in Shizuoka Prefecture and the area around Izu?
There has been tremendous support from the prefecture and the neighboring cities and towns, which was very encouraging. I cannot thank them enough. Among them, the efforts of Heita Kawakatsu, the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, have been amazing. The year after the Cabinet decision, in 2014, the ICOMOS evaluation team came to Izunokuni, and at that time Governor Kawakatsu volunteered to take the lead and come along, and he spoke fervently in excellent Queen’s English for nearly 20 minutes. It was not on the agenda, so the schedule became very tight and inside I was feeling really anxious but… (Laughs)
I heard this from Kimiyasu Shimadzu of the Shuseikan in Kagoshima Prefecture, so I’m sure it is correct, but it seems that from the time he was the president of Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, Governor Kawakatsu was advising efforts on World Heritage inscription— under the Kyushu-Yamaguchi framework at that time—and after he became governor of Shizuoka, he was the first to strongly push for the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces to be a component part. Now that I say that, I think that makes him the father in the birth of the “World Heritage Site: Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces.” But Koko Kato knows that situation well, so you should confirm it with her. (Laughs)
The cities and towns of eastern Shizuoka gave us their full support. For example, our neighbor, the city of Mishima, worked to stir up excitement for the movement to get the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces listed, and they held a performance of our original opera at the city’s large hall. At the same time, we ran around trying to get the support of other cities and towns and everyone gladly endorsed the project. We truly appreciated it.
The sightseeing spots in Izu have always helped one another. Visitors who come to see the cherry blossoms in the town of Kawazu will stay the night in Izunagaoka, for example, so the famous spots and famous products in each location are tourism assets for Izu as a whole. In that sense, we expect that the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace will be one new attraction that draws tourists to Izu.
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)