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Gov’t to postpone recommending Sado’s gold mine site as UNESCO’s World Heritage

  • January 20, 2022
  • , Yomiuri , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

On Jan. 19, the government initiated procedures to postpone recommending to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that the “gold mine site on the island of Sado” be added to the World Heritage List .Last December, the Council for Cultural Affairs within the Agency for Cultural Affairs had selected it as a candidate. It concluded that the site is unlikely to be inscribed on the UNESCO 2023 World Heritage List due to opposition from South Korea.


This was revealed by several sources close to the government. No candidate site has ever been registered on the World Heritage List once it was turned down by the World Heritage Committee. The Japanese government aims to have the Sado mine added to the list in 2024 or later.


Meanwhile, South Korea is opposing the inscription of the gold mine on the World Heritage list by claiming that the island’s mine used “forced labor.” As part of the “Memory of the World” program, UNESCO last year introduced a system whereby concerned nations can lodge a protest and delay the registration until a final conclusion is made. This new framework was introduced at the initiative of the Japanese government, which campaigned against China’s listing of “Documents of Nanjing Massacre” in the Memory of the World. “This time Japan is put in the opposite position,” said an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “If Japan goes ahead with recommending the site amid opposition from South Korea, we may lose the trust of the international community.” This view within MOFA played a role in pushing back the idea of recommending Sado’s gold mine as a World Heritage site.


When Sado’s gold mine was selected as a candidate site last December, the Agency for Cultural Affairs noted that “The candidate selection does not mean that the government has decided to recommend it. Rather, it means the government will consider it from a comprehensive perspective.”  

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