JAPANESE  ENGLISH

PEOPLE

2018.07.10
Vol.26
Taking Pride in Japan's Latest World Heritage Sites~A Journalist's Perspective~

Journalist, founder of the Shimomura Mitsuko Ikikata Juku School

Ms. Mitsuko Shimomura
Ms. Mitsuko Shimomura

■ An Encouraging Phone Call at the Bonn Conference

Ms. Kato tells us that you also played a strong supporting role during the UNESCO conference held in Bonn, Germany, in 2015.

Ms. Kato: That was when South Korea waged a negative campaign to block the World Heritage registration by bringing up the totally unrelated issue of the forced labor during the war years.

Ms. Shimomura: Ms. Kato was in Bonn then and I telephoned her from Japan. I had heard that Korea was vehemently opposed to Japan’s recommendation and was conducting an anti-Japan campaign at the conference. This worried me and I phoned her without any idea of the conference schedule or where she might be at the moment. It just happened that she was between meetings and was able to answer the phone. She told me what was going on and I did my best to encourage her. That was about all I could do back then.

(Turning to Ms. Kato) You cried on the phone, remember?

Ms. Kato: It was a real struggle and I was so frustrated. From six months before the conference, I had traveled to each of the 17 countries on the UNESCO committee to explain how the recommended sites qualified as World Heritage sites and to point out how unfair were the accusations being made. This was the culmination of 16 years of work and ICOMOS had already declared the sites as worthy of World Heritage designation. Normally, an ICOMOS recommendation would not be overturned and I wanted the countries on the committee to vote against any such effort. Introducing political propaganda into the World Heritage deliberations goes against everything UNESCO stands for. And yet the Japanese government did not fight back, even though we were in the right. It was so disappointing.

Ms. Shimomura: Korea was hit by tragedy after tragedy. That is historical fact. It hardly needs to be said that we must be aware and understand this. But it does not justify introducing anti-Japanese sentiment into a purely academic discussion on the World Heritage qualifications of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Ms. Kato: There was no logical debate. They could not stand the idea that Japan would be congratulated by the other member countries if and when the Sites were approved for World Heritage designation. That was their only reason for objecting.

That experience has led me to interview the laborers over 60 peersons who actually lived and worked in the coals mines of Gunkan-jima. My objective is to create a video record—an invaluable oral record--of the real history of the island and the people who lived and worked there, presented in their own voices.

Ms. Shimomura: That is really important. Those people are getting old and there is not much time left to gather their testimonies. I urge you to continue the project.

We are coming to the end here. One last request: Could you speak about your hopes for the conservation of the Sties of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution, and the activities of the National Congress of Industrial Heritage which is managed by Ms. Kato and others.

Ms. Shimomura: I am aware that the NCIH is actively engaged in promoting the sites, such as by creating an app to guide people. I hope they will vigorously disseminate information on the Sites, both at home and abroad. In the overseas dissemination of information, I think it is especially important to highlight, as I pointed out earlier, that these sites represent an industrial revolution taking place in Asia and played a historical role in opening the way for the developing countries in the region.

Domestically, I think the focus should be on providing a creative and fun framework for not only adults but also children and those of the younger generations to learn about the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution. As you may know, a lot of Japanese people are oblivious to the historical value of the sites (laughs). When I say “fun” I am not expecting the Sites to be turned into entertaining theme parks. They are not places for leisure activities. But it would be good to see them included in school trips, for example, and used as sites for adult study tours. We need to pass on the legacy of our predecessors.

Thank you.

(Interviewers: Koko Kato & Takeo Takashima, Writer: Takeo Takashima)

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Vol. 49
Why Conservation Management of Japan's Meiji Industrial Sites is needed?

Archaeologist and Heritage Conservation Specialist

Dr. Michael Pearson AO
Vol.48
The Truth of Industrial History Unraveled from the Perspective of Metallurgy: the Mission of the Heritage of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to Pass on the Intelligence, Diligence, and Fortitude of the Japanese People to Future Generations

A fellow of the Japan Federation of Engineering Societies

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Vol.47
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a Great Teaching Aid, and Various World Revealed by Looking Into It

Team Member of the Industrial Project Team Office for the Promotion of World Heritage Listing under Cabinet Secretariat

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The History of Iron that Began in Kagoshima has Dramatically Advanced Japan's Modernization~I Want to Pass on the Vitality of the People of Satsuma to the Younger Generations Whom Will Live in the Future~

Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture

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Vol.45
Yoshida Shoin preached the Theory of Engineering Education and produced the Choshu Five who risked their lives to go to England--to pass on the proud Hagi spirit to future generations

Mayor of Hagi City

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Vol.44
I wish to pass on to my children's generation the wisdom, technology, and energy of our ancestors who built Misumi West Port - I will do my very best to do what I can at this moment by looking ahead to the future that will surely come after COVID-19.

Mayor of Uki City, Kumamoto Prefecture

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Vol. 43
An Imperial Company named the Yawata Steel Works became a World Heritage Site from a Single Old Photo!

The Former Employee of Nippon Steel Corporation

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We would like to Establish a "New Local Studies" that will be transmitted to the Outside World.

An Associate Professor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in Iwate University

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Vol.39
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Vol.38
In Industrial Heritage, It's the "People" Who Play the Central Role: How World Heritage Inscription Casts a Fresh Light on Hometown Splendors

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Vol.37
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Chairman: Mr. Hidenori Date
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Kamaishi's "Miracles" and Overcoming Disaster: The Huge Opportunity Provided by World Heritage Site Inscription

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Vol.35
"850 years of historical records" along with Nirayama reverberatory furnace that ought to be passed down to future generations. ~The long-awaited new storage warehouse is completed and it has encouraged preservation, restoration, and utilization~

Representative Director of Egawa Bunko non-profit incorporated foundation

The 42nd head of the Egawa Family

Mr. Hiroshi Egawa
Vol.34
The History of an Era Opened by an Indomitable Pioneering Spirit and the Power of Our Forefathers

Democratic Party for the People (DPP) Representative for Nagasaki Prefecture

Mr. Yoshiaki Takaki
Vol.33
Gunkanjima Is a Warning Message for the Future of Earth and Humanity ~The Thoughts and Pleas of a Guide and Former Resident~

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Vol.32
Synchronicity Yields the Miracle of World Heritage Site Inscription: Strong Aspirations Inspire Support among Like-Minded Individuals

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Vol.31
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President of Watanabe Production Group and Honorary Chair of Watanabe Productions Co., Ltd.

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Vol.30
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Vol.29
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Governor
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Awareness of "Stories with Connections" is steadily spreading throughout each region~There are also challenges for conservation management and interpretation~

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Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way: Connecting with People Takes Courage and Initiative

Director and Dean, The Kyushu-Asia Institute of Leadership
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Vol.26
Taking Pride in Japan's Latest World Heritage Sites~A Journalist's Perspective~

Journalist, founder of the Shimomura Mitsuko Ikikata Juku School

Ms. Mitsuko Shimomura
Vol.25
Classic Cars and the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution~Rally Nippon 2019 in Kyushu~

Representative, Rally Nippon

Mr.Yusuke Kobayashi
Vol.24
Preparations Proceed for the Development of Exciting Touring Routes to See the World Heritage Sites - The Promotion Council Conveys their Attractions to the World through Various Promotions!

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Vol.23
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Vol.22
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Mayor of Nagasaki City

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Vol.21
"The World's Experimental Facility" that Questions of the True Value of the "ICOMOS-TICCIH Cooperative Principles" New Conservation Challenges Promoted by the Japanese Government

Policy Director at Heritage Montreal

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Vol.20
Days of Heated Argument with the Unforgettable Stuart Smith~A Cross-Cultural Encounter with Familiar 19th-Century Industrial Heritage~

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Vol.19
The next generation of technological innovation is born from carrying forward history and culture. - Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution open the way to "conserving while using"

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Dr.Osamu Goto
Vol.18
Blazing a New Trail for Serial Inscription-Format Conservation and Management with the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Training Personnel to Pass on Memory and Understanding as a Major Challenge in the Future

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Vol.17
3D Digital Documentation of the Giant Cantilever Crane and Kosuge Dock

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The Scottish Ten Project

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Vol.12
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Vol.8
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Vol.4
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Vol.3
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