Japan to seek inclusion of Christian sites in World Heritage list

Tokyo, Jan 20 (IANS) Japan on Friday announced it will ask the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to include 12 Christian sites in its list of World Heritage Sites.

The 12 sites, which tell of the country’s unique Christian history and have been chosen for their cultural importance, are located in the Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures, the cradle of Christianity in Japan, Efe news reported.

They include the Oura Church, the country’s oldest church, designated a national treasure, and the Sakitsu village, where Kakure Kirishitan or “Hidden Christians” lived during the persecution of Christians in Japan in the 18th century.

In addition to the two sites, Japan will also ask Unesco to include some of the islands of the Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures, known for their rich biodiversity.

The proposal will be sent to the UN agency before February, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

After an inspection of the sites, the international body will decide if these places will finally be designated as World Heritage Sites in the year 2018.

There are currently 20 world heritage sites in Japan.