TOKYO– Japan’s efforts to gain UNESCO World Heritage recognition for a former gold mine key to the country’s industrialization will be delayed because its demand was insufficient, officials said Thursday.
Efforts to obtain a UNESCO listing for the Sado Island mine were protested by South Korea and added to their diplomatic friction over Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula and its actions during the Second World War. World War.
The mine in northern Japan operated for nearly 400 years and was once the world’s largest gold producer before closing in 1989.
South Korea objected to the recording as inappropriate due to Japan’s wartime abuse of Korean workers. Seoul said Koreans brought to Japan during its colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 were subjected to forced labor at the mine.
Historians say Japan used hundreds of thousands of Korean workers, including those forcibly brought from the Korean Peninsula, in mines and factories to make up for labor shortages, as most of the men in working age were sent to battle fronts across Asia and the Pacific.
The city and prefectural sites of Niigata praise Sado Island Mine for the development of mining technology before and after industrialization. There is no mention of its use of Korean workers in wartime.
Japan submitted a letter of recommendation to nominate the mine to UNESCO earlier this year and hopes it will be inscribed next year. On Thursday, however, Culture Minister Shinsuke Suematsu told reporters that enrolling next year “would be difficult”.
Suematsu said the UNESCO office cited an “insufficiency” in the content of the application, but was not more specific. “It is extremely regrettable, but we have decided to resubmit the documents,” he said. A draft document will be submitted by the end of September and an official version by February 1 next year.
Another Japanese site with similar sensitivities was recognized by UNESCO in 2015. Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island, in Nagasaki Prefecture, was a former coal mine site recognized as important to Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution. South Korea protested the site’s failure to mention Koreans working on the island, prompting a UNESCO decision urging Japan to present a more balanced story.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government had previously considered delaying Sado Island’s nomination, but apparently backtracked after facing growing pressure from ultra-conservatives in the ruling party, known for their whitewash efforts. Japan’s wartime past.
Relations between Tokyo and Seoul are at their lowest level in years due to disputes over Japan’s sexual abuse of Korean women and the use of forced laborers before and during World War II.