Congratulations, Japan; you’re on your way to being awarded yet another UNESCO World Heritage honor!
This time around the honor will be going to “Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution,” which includes Nagasaki’s legendary (and awesomely spooky ) “Battleship Island” among others, granted it passes the final approval stage.
World Heritage Site honors were bestowed upon Mt. Fuji in 2013 and Gifu Prefecture’s Tomioka Silk Mill just last year. With those two additions, Japan found itself as the proud home to 14 cultural heritage sites and five natural heritage sites. If this most recent recommendation is officially awarded later this year, it will become the 19th World Heritage status recipient in the country.
The advisory committee for the International Council on Monuments and Sites UNESCO gave their recommendation for Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution, which consists of 23 sites in a total of eight prefectures. However, the final decision to make them World Heritage Sites won’t be made until the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, Germany, June 28-July 8.
The 23 sites included in the recommendation are located in the prefectures of Iwate, Shizuoka, Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, Saga, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, and Nagasaki.
Nagasaki actually has two sites included, one for the Mitsubishi shipyard, which has been operating for over 100 years and one for Gunkanjima (Battleship Island), which is arguably the most well-known of the Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution.
▼ What’s so special about an old abandoned building? More than you’d think!
Gunkanjima, which is actually just the nickname for Hashima Island, is an island just off of Nagasaki City that was a major coal mine for nearly 100 years. At one time, the 0.065-square kilometer (0.025-square mile) island was home to 5,259 people, far more than the most densely populated areas of even today. In 1974, however, the mine closed and the inhabitants left, leaving behind a dilapidated concrete jungle that makes the island look like a battleship from afar, hence its name.
▼ Is that a ship?! No, it’s a cool island that was featured in a 007 movie!
Along with Gunkanjima, these sites were nominated for World Heritage status because they helped usher Japan into the industrial age upon the end of the isolationist Edo era (1603-1868). Thanks to their technological innovation, Japan quickly developed into an industrialized nation in the Meiji era.
▼ The Yahata steel mill in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka is also among the honored.
There is a debate that could cause a snafu in the decision of whether or not to officially make these World Heritage sites, however. There is opposition against this honor due to Japan’s use of forced labor (namely Korean) during this time and at some of these sites.
Hopefully the recommendation will be approved by the World Heritage Committee in July and Japan will officially be able to welcome in their 19th honorees. Also keep your eyes open in the future for Nagasaki’s next attempt at global recognition for their churches and fascinating Christian history (but that’s a story for another day!)
▼ Since it’s so cool, here’s a drone view of Gunkanjima.
Source: Yahoo! Japan News
Images: RocketNews24, Wikimedia Commons ( Kugel )