Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage


Participation in the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee

Discussions relating to Japan’s Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region
Wawel Hill, where the Opening Ceremony for the 41st Session was held

 The 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee was convened in Krakow, Poland from July 2 to 12, 2017. Tobunken staff attended the meetings and gathered information on trends relating to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
 In discussions relating to inscription on the World Heritage List, it was striking that many cases were decided to be inscribed against the recommendations of the Advisory Bodies. Twenty-one sites were newly inscribed during the Session, but only 13 of them, including Japan’s Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region, were considered worthy of inscription by the Advisory Bodies. Some have pointed out that such reversing of the recommendations of the Advisory Bodies stems from their experts lacking a thorough understanding of the dossiers and additional information submitted by the States Parties. Others caution that the Committee Members, conscious of the various benefits that inscription on the World Heritage List imparts, are prioritizing political agendas over the assessment of experts. During the meetings, the chairperson repeatedly voiced his concerns over the politicization of the Committee discussions, but the direction of the discussions did not change significantly.
 The States Parties to the World Heritage Convention have a duty to protect the World Heritage sites in their respective countries. When sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List before sufficient systems are in place for their protection and conservation, or in the absence of appropriate boundary and/or buffer zones of the property, it becomes difficult to fulfill this duty. The politicization of the World Heritage Committee no doubt reflects the high level of interest in World Heritage on the part of the States Parties. However, we felt that it was imperative for each State Party to act on the basis of expert knowledge necessary for the protection of their World Heritage sites, so that this high level of interest does not result in more harm done than good.


The 29th General Assembly of ICCROM

FAO Used as the Venue
Deliberations

 Representative from the Institute attended the 29th General Assembly of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) held in Rome, Italy from November 18 through 20, 2015. ICCROM is an intergovernmental organization, the headquarters of which was established in Rome in 1959 following the resolution at the 9th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in 1956. Known as an advisory body to the World Heritage Committee, ICCROM has been working on the conservation of various movable or immovable cultural properties. Our Institute has been contributing to its activities particularly through training on the preservation and restoration of cultural properties using paper and Japanese lacquer.
 The General Assembly of ICCROM takes place every two years. As usual, new members of the Council were elected since almost half of its members’ term of office had expired. As a result, Mr. Wataru Kawanobe of our Institute was reelected as its member. New Council members were elected from Ireland, Argentina, Iran, the Netherlands, Canada, Korea, Tunisia, Norway and Jordan, while the members of UAE and France were reelected.
 From this General Assembly in 2015, a thematic discussion was held and disaster measures and reconstruction cases were introduced from the member states under the theme of “Climate Change and Natural Disasters: Culture cannot wait!” During the course, the adoption of the “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030” and “Sendai Declaration” at the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in March of 2015 was also addressed with a focus. We really felt the great expectations of the member states toward Japan in these areas.
 The Institute will proactively join these international meetings in order to collect global trends on the protection of cultural properties, as well as to transmit Japanese activities widely.


Participation in the Annual General Assembly, Advisory Committee Meeting, and Scientific Symposium of ICOMOS

 Representative from the Institute attended the Annual General Assembly, Advisory Committee Meeting, and Scientific Symposium of ICOMOS held from October 26 through October 29, 2015 in Fukuoka. ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) was established in 1965 as an international NGO for safeguarding and conservation of cultural properties in response to the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (the Venice Charter) adopted in 1964. Since then, ICOMOS has been working as an organization where experts from various fields, including architects, historians, archeologists, art historians and anthropologists, interact with one another. In recent years, ICOMOS has been well known for its other role as an advisory body to UNESCO by evaluating all nominations of cultural and mixed heritage to the World Heritage List.
 The General Assembly of ICOMOS had taken place every three years until 2014, when the Statutes of ICOMOS were amended at the General Assembly held in Florence, Italy. From 2015, the Annual General Assembly is to be organized every year together with the Advisory Committee Meeting. At this Annual General Assembly, the past activities of ICOMOS were reported to exchange opinions about how it could be a better organization, seeking measures for ICOMOS to work more appropriately as a group of specialists. In addition, a scientific symposium was also held under the theme of “RISKS TO IDENTITY: Loss of Traditions and Collective Memory,” where many useful cases were introduced to discuss the preservation and inheritance of tangible cultural properties, as well as their intangible values.
 The Institute will continually participate in such international meetings to identify global trends on the protection of cultural properties.


Attendance of the 18th General Assembly of ICOMOS

The outside of the meeting site
The General Assembly in session

 Representative from the Institute attended the 18th General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) that took place from November 9 to 14, 2014 in Florence, Italy. In light of the 1964 International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (the Venice Charter), ICOMOS was founded in 1965 as an international NGO to safeguard and conserve cultural heritage. ICOMOS has over 10,000 members worldwide, and is known for its work reviewing world heritage nominations as an advisory body to UNESCO.
 The General Assembly meets every 3 years to elect the Executive Committee and to hold an international symposium. At this Assembly, Gustavo ARAOZ was reelected as President and KONO Toshiyuki, a Professor at Kyushu University, was chosen as one of the 5 Vice Presidents. In addition, an international symposium “Heritage and Landscape as Human Values” was held. The symposium featured a wide range of presentations on issues that countries commonly encounter when safeguarding heritage, such as topics related to sustainability through traditional knowledge and community-driven conservation. The year in which the General Assembly met also marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Venice Charter and the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Nara Document on Authenticity (the Nara Document). A panel featuring personnel involved in the adoption of these documents discussed the events leading to their adoption and subsequent developments after their adoption.
 The Institute will continue to gather and compile information on the safeguarding of cultural heritage overseas by attending international conferences like this in the future as well.


28th General Assembly of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties (ICCROM)

Deliberations at the General Assembly meeting

 From November 27 to 29, 2013, Director General KAMEI Nobuo, KAWANOBE Wataru, and SAKAINO Asuka of the Institute attended the 28th General Assembly of ICCROM in Rome, Italy. The decision to found ICCROM was made at the 9th UNESCO General Conference in 1956. This intergovernmental organization has been headquartered in Rome since 1959. ICCROM works to conserve a wide range of cultural heritage, both movable and immovable. The Institute has specifically helped with these efforts by conducting training in the conservation of paper and laquerware.
 The General Assembly meets biennially. At this meeting of the General Assembly, 13 new members of ICCROM’s Council were elected to replace members who had completed their terms. Serving Council members from 12 countries (United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Canada, South Korea, Greece, Guatemala, Sweden, China, Tunisia, Japan, Brazil, and France) have been joined by newly elected Council members from the US, India, Egypt, Switzerland, Sudan, Spain, Tanzania, Chile, Germany, Bahrain, the Philippines, Belgium, and Mexico. The meeting of the General Assembly also reiterated to Member States the need for ICCROM to improve its finances. Japan’s monetary contribution is second only to that of the US, and Japan is cognizant of the severity of this problem. Hopes are that the new Council will consider specific approaches so that ICCROM can continue its activities in the future.


Study of conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States

Materials from American institutions involved in conservation of cultural properties
The Freer Gallery of Art

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation carries out studies and research concerning the systems for conservation of cultural properties in each country around the world. As one such project, currently it is studying the state of conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States. While the U.S. is home to numerous museums of history and art and holds many of the world’s movable cultural properties, it has no government agency that specializes in the protection and management of cultural properties. Management of cultural properties is left to their owners, and management and regulation at the federal level is not very strong except in emergencies such as major natural disasters. Under these circumstances, management, restoration, and exhibition of moveable cultural properties in the U.S. is handled on an individual basis, in accordance with the management policies of each museum and with the wishes of the properties’ owners.
 While thinking on cultural properties differs considerably between Japan and the U.S., at the same time the U.S. is home to numerous art museums that hold collections of Japanese art. In addition, the Center’s Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, begun in 1991, has restored more than 250 works of art at 24 art museums across the United States. Thus, the Center has close ties with American art museums. Accordingly, from January 26 through February 3, 2013 Tomoko EMURA and Asuka SAKAINO conducted a study in Washington, D.C. to ascertain in a systematic way the state of the conservation of movable cultural properties in the United States. They conducted a number of interviews focusing chiefly on key organizations conducting comprehensive activities to protect cultural properties, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior, the Library of Congress, the American Institute for Conservation (AIC)/Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the nonprofit Heritage Preservation. They also studied the state of management of the collections of history and art museums. In particular, they learned about the collection management rules and the state of restoration of works at the Freer Gallery of Art. America’s oldest national art museum, the Freer Gallery opened in 1923 and holds numerous works of art from East Asia, including Japan.
 This study showed that one of the reasons cultural properties in the U.S. are conserved appropriately despite the lack of strict regulations is because of cooperation among individual organizations and personnel along with effective functioning of bottom-up decision-making. Future plans call for advancing more practical study and research looking at the history museums playing central roles in each region of the U.S. and at museums holding works of Japanese art.


Networking Core Centers Project for the Conservation of Traditional Buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan

A group interview of craftsmen at the rammed earth construction site
Testing at Paga Lhakhang

 Seven experts were dispatched from Japan to the Kingdom of Bhutan from May 28 to June 8, 2012 as a part of the Networking Core Centers Project commissioned by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs. This Project started this fiscal year to teach and train personnel in conservation and restoration techniques, including structural assessments and aseismatic measures, for traditional buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
 For the project to be implemented, a Memorandum of Understanding was first concluded between the Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Terms of Reference were also agreed upon.
 In cooperation with Bhutanese personnel, field surveys were conducted to elucidate traditional construction techniques used in temples, houses, and ruins with rammed earth and wood in order to identify the value to be conserved. In addition, questionnaires were drafted to facilitate future architectural surveys. Moreover, structural surveys were conducted in order to quantitatively ascertain the structural performance of traditional buildings. These surveys included a destructive load test on the rammed earth walls of Paga Lhakhang, a temple that was devastated by a fire and scheduled to be dismantled, and a materials test on the rammed earth blocks of that temple. Micro-tremors were also measured at Pangrizampa Lhakhang.
 Plans are to continue exploring the potential for aseismatic measures as an extension of traditional techniques through both architectural surveys and structural surveys.


Networking Core Centers Project in Mongolia: Workshop on the Protection and Management of Amarbayasgalant Monastery

Participants of the workshop
Government Palace, Ulaanbaatar

 Four experts from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) were dispatched to Mongolia from January 21 to 27, 2012 as a part of the Networking Core Centers Project commissioned by Japan’s Agency of Cultural Affairs.
 On January 24th and 25th, workshops to draw up the management plan for Amarbayasgalant Monastery were held under the joint auspices of NRICPT, Nagoya University and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science of Mongolia (MECS). During the discussion, the protection of cultural heritage was considered along with the Land Law and the system of administrative courts. Accordingly, a written proposal to MECS and the Selenge Aimag (province) office was drafted. This proposal mentions establishment of a working group to include the Monastery on the World Heritage List and to draft a management plan, clarification of problems with the current regulations on protected areas, and efforts to obtain the understanding of local residents. NRICPT seeks to closely coordinate and cooperate with relevant bodies to bring the proposal to fruition.
 On January 26th, representatives of the NRICPT, Nagoya University, and the National Police Agency of Mongolia discussed the matter of illicit export and import of cultural properties. Representatives of the Police Agency explained national policies, systems, and criminal cases related to this topic. Representatives of the NRICPT informed them of cases of illegal mining and graffiti at the sites of Serven Khaalga and Rashaan Khadin Khentii Aimag, Mongolia.


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