|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
National Palace Museum of Korea where the workshop took place (Seoul)
Excursion in Gyeongbokgung (Seoul)
On December 21st, 2018, the 2018 East Asia ICOMOS Workshop “Towards a New Exchange and Cooperation: The Recent Practices of East Asia ICOMOS in the Protection and Management of Cultural Heritages” was held in the National Palace Museum of Korea in Seoul, the Republic of Korea. This workshop was organized by the ICOMOS-Korea and sponsored by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, with the aim of outlining policies and methods related to the protection of cultural heritages in Japan, China and Korea and examining how the ICOMOS participates in and contributes to these activities.
As requested by the ICOMOS-Korea and Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, I reported the activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties related to the World Heritage under the title of “Activities of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties for a good implementation of the World Heritage Convention.” In this report, I presented our activities such as the publication of survey research reports and glossaries related to the World Heritage Committee and the organization of the World Heritage Seminar. I explained that these activities aim mainly at providing information to local government officers who are involved in the recommendation and protection of the World Heritage Sites, and that they are conducted in cooperation with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. Masahiko TOMODA of the Institute also participated in the workshop as a member of the Japan ICOMOS National Committee and reported its activities with the Vice President Yuga KARIYA.
Korean participants said that they also find it challenging to provide information related to the World Heritage Convention to local government officers. Politicization caused by the overheating interest in the World Heritage Sites seemed to be a common issue in Japan, China and Korea. I hope that the exchange with experts from nearby countries, as in this workshop, will lead to the creation of highly specialized recommendation documents and the appropriate protection of World Heritage Sites in each country.
Appearance of the venue.
Inscription of “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” was adopted by the committee.
The Thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, from November 26th through December 1st, 2018. Two researchers from this Institute attended the session.
At this session, whether or not “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” nominated by Japan should be inscribed on the Representative List was discussed. The Committee decided its inscription on November 29th. At the Sixth session of the Intergovernmental Committee in 2011, the similarity of “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita” nominated by Japan to “Koshikijima no Toshidon (visiting deity that occurs every New Year’s Eve on Shimo-Koshiki Island),” which had already been inscribed on the Representative List, was pointed out. In response to the decision of the referral of the element by the Committee, ten nationally designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties (protecting groups identified) including “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita,” “Paantu” on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and “Boze” on Akuseki Island in Kagoshima Prefecture were grouped into the expanded “Koshikijima no Toshidon” as its elements. Therefore, the number of Japan’s intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed on the Representative List remains twenty-one. However, more Japanese cultural properties have been inscribed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
It is highly important that “Reggae music” nominated by Jamaica was inscribed on the Representative List among the other properties examined by the Committee this time. Inscription of “Reggae music” might not have been decided at this session since the Evaluation Body initially recommended the element to be referred back to the State Party. However, a discussion by the Committee members resulted in inscription.
Japan serves as a Committee member from 2018 to 2022. Also at this session, the Japanese delegation introduced two cases of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding with a focus on Japan’s efforts making a significant contribution: “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage” on which this Institute works, and “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” with which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) deals. Japan is expected to continually make a presence at the Intergovernmental Committee.
On the other hand, we felt concerned about how the Committee meeting should be developed. In recent years, referral recommendation by the Evaluation Body is often turned into inscription decision by the Committee. Occasionally, we also came across such cases at this session. In some cases, proceedings that are not accepted in the guideline for the Convention were decided by the Committee. In fact, some signatory States Parties expressed concern about such a policy of the Committee, causing a stir in its ruling idea for the coming session.
Ordination hall doors of Wat Rajpradit
On July 30th, 2018, the above seminar was conducted at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) with ten research presentations delivered by eleven experts.
Wat Rajpradit is a first-grade royal Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand. It was built at the request of King Rama IV in 1864. The windows of the ordination hall (ubosot) and the inner sides of the entrance doors of the Temple were mother-of-pearl with underpaint and the panels were decorated with lacquer paintings. For the mother-of-pearl with underpaint, thin strips of abalone or other shells were placed on the base material after coloring, line drawing and metal foil were applied on the reverse of the shell pieces. At the request of the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture of Thailand and the Temple, TNRICP started providing technical assistance for the restoration project in Thailand in 2012. From 2013 through 2015, two door panels were brought to Japan to conduct a detailed scientific survey and trial restoration in collaboration with experts inside and outside the Institute.
At this seminar, the results of an optical survey implemented in Thailand and the interpretation of icons found in the lacquer painting patterns were also reported, in addition to the outcomes of the scientific surveys such as X-ray photography of door panels, fluorescent X-ray analysis of pigments, and organic analysis of lacquer coating film and undercoat. These outcomes identified the techniques and materials used for decorating the door panels, showing evidence that they were made in Japan. In addition, the manufacturing techniques used on these door panels and the Japanese style of mother-of pearl with underpaint that existed in Japan and Thailand were considered, while how and when such techniques evolved were also studied.
The technique of mother-of-pearl with underpaint was used for a short period from the end of 18th century until the late 19th century. Its technical genealogy has not been fully clarified yet. We will continue to provide technical support for the door panel restoration project at Wat Rajpradit while conducting research and study on door panels and mother-of-pearl with underpaint in both Japan and Thailand.
Deliberation of “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region”
“Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun,” a World Heritage Site in Bahrain
From June 24th through July 4th, 2018, the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee was held in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Staff members of this institute attended the session, and collected information on a variety of discussions over the World Heritage Convention.
During the deliberation of inscription on the World Heritage List, the Committee often adopted decisions against recommendations by the Advisory Bodies as with the previous year. Among the nineteen sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, the Advisory Bodies had determined that seven sites were not sufficient as World Heritage Sites. This year in particular, some of the sites on which non-inscription had been recommended by the Advisory Bodies were decided to be inscribed on the List by the Committee. Several States Parties attending the session as observers criticized the attitude of the Committee members referring to it as disregard for expertise.
The States Parties will also suffer adverse effects from ignoring recommendations from the Advisory Bodies. Forceful inscription will obscure the value of the sites, prevent establishing proper boundaries and eventually cause trouble in the conservation and management of the inscribed sites. In response to such unfavorable circumstances, the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre have made efforts to achieve mutual understanding and improvement in nomination details through dialogues with States Parties during the evaluation process. However, that has not achieved satisfactory outcomes so far.
Under the circumstances, “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region” nominated by Japan, whose registration had been recommended by the Advisory Bodies, were unanimously decided to be inscribed on the List. Although their nomination dossier was submitted once in 2015, it was withdrawn considering the Advisory Bodies’ opinion, followed by its refinement over two years. As Japan realized this inscription with a huge amount of efforts through re-nomination, its sincere approach to implement the World Heritage Convention is highly esteemed.
Seminar in session
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the World Heritage Seminar with the theme of “Process of Evaluating Nominations and Roles of the Advisory Bodies for Inscription on the World Heritage List” at the Institute’s seminar room on January 18, 2018.
This Seminar, held for the first time, is designed for local government officials in charge of matters related to World Heritage, and aims to provide information about the system of World Heritage and the latest trends as well as an opportunity for exchange of ideas. Focusing on the process of how the Advisory Bodies evaluate nominations, this year’s Seminar featured various speakers who discussed the actual details of what International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), in particular, does, from different perspectives.
First, Ms. Asuka SAKAINO from the Institute presented a report on the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland, in July 2017. Ms. Yoko FUTAGAMI, also from the Institute, then provided an overview of the World Heritage Seminar, and also described the evaluation process for the World Heritage List and problems with the current situation. Another speaker featured in the Seminar was Ms. Miki OKADERA, Chief Engineer of the Fukuoka Prefectural Government, who played a critical role in the preparation of the nomination file for the Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region and addressed the evaluation by the Advisory Bodies. She talked about her journey through the entire process related to the nomination of the sites, which was examined during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee and inscribed on the list. In addition, Prof. Nobu KURODA of the University of Tsukuba shared her insights into the site mission from a professional viewpoint, based on her actual experience as one of the experts appointed by an Advisory Body to conduct a site mission in 2006. Finally, Prof. Toshiyuki KONO of Kyushu University, who was appointed president of ICOMOS in December 2017, delivered a presentation on the roles of the Advisory Bodies from the organization’s perspective.
A total of 74 people attended the event, including officials from 29 prefectural or local government in charge of matters related to World Heritage as well as officials from the Cabinet Secretariat, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the Subdivision on World’s Cultural Heritage of the Council for Cultural Affairs.
The Institute will continue to host such Seminars to communicate information obtained through the study of World Heritage and provide opportunities for people to share information.
Deliberation under way
On November 14th and 15th, 2017, the 21st session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and the 12th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee were held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) dispatched two staff members.
The General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention is held biannually during the period of the ordinary session of the General Conference of UNESCO, where the Committee members of the World Heritage Committee are elected. Although the World Heritage Convention sets the term of office for the Committee members to six years, with the aim of expanding the opportunity for many countries to become a Committee member, the Operational Guidelines invite the Committee members to consider voluntarily reducing their term of office to four years and discourage from seeking consecutive terms of office. At this General Assembly, 12 countries retired from the Committee members after serving for four years and, as a result of the secret ballot among the States Parties participating in the session, the countries of Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Saint Christopher-Nevis, Spain, and Uganda were newly elected.
It is the normal practice of the World Heritage Committee sessions to update the World Heritage List and to decide on the site and date for the next World Heritage Committee session. However, at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee that was held in Krakow of Poland this year, there was no Committee member that officially expressed its interest in hosting the World Heritage Committee session for the next year. Therefore, it was decided that, concurrently with the re-election of Committee member countries at the 21st session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, the 12th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee was to be held to invite a country that wishes to be a hosting country and to decide the site and chairman of the Committee session. As a result of adjustment at the extraordinary session, it was decided that the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee would be held in Manama of Bahrain from June 24th to July 4th, 2018.
TNRICP will continue to collect the latest information on recent trends concerning the World Heritage Convention and to disseminate it widely among parties concerned in Japan.
Analysis of the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (Tokyo National Museum)
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) have jointly conducted an optical analysis of Buddhist artworks owned by TNM. As part of this collaborative research, we conducted an analysis of coloring materials by employing X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o (Skt: Mahamayurividyarajni) and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu (Skt: Samantabhadra) for two days from August 2 to 3, 2017. The two pieces of artwork are paintings on silk drawn in the Heian period (12th century) and designated as a National Treasure. Through X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, the types and quantities of elements that constitute matter can be identified in a non-destructive and non-contact manner. In recent years, in particular, high-performance portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometers have become widespread, and highly accurate data have become safely obtainable. The types of pigments or the compositions of metals, such as gold and silver, can be identified by the analysis of paintings, such as these two artworks. Through this collaborative research, we have obtained high-definition color, fluorescent, and infrared images of five Buddhist paintings drawn in the Heian period so far, including the two pieces for this analysis. Using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, we have studied these images in detail and examined the colors and descriptions used in the artworks comprehensively. Although a great deal of research has been conducted on the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu from the perspective of art history, with this spectrometric technique, yet-to-be-discovered facts are expected to be uncovered. In addition, given the fact that experts from more than one realm ranging from art history to analytical chemistry and image formation have taken part in this collaborative research, there are likely to be new developments in the research of Buddhist paintings in the Heian period through cross-sectoral analysis and studies. For this reason, we will continue to promote cooperation among researchers in conducting research and moving ahead with the analysis of other Buddhist paintings in the same era as well.
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.
Deliberation at UNESCO Headquarters
The 40th Session of the World Heritage Committee 2016 was held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from October 24th through 26th, 2016. This session was a restart of the deliberation in Istanbul suspended due to the attempted coup d’etat. Three staff members of the Institute attended the session in Paris.
At the session of the Committee, whether minor changes of the sites in the list of world heritage sites should be accepted was deliberated, and the extension of the two pilgrimage routes totaling to 40.1 km of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range,” for which Japan had made an application, was approved. As for the temporary list where each member country recommends the registration of its sites with the list of world heritage sites, Japan’s addition of “Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island” (Amami & Ryujku) to its temporary list was confirmed. For “Amami & Ryukyu,” preparations toward listing as a world heritage site in 2018 are ongoing, but this confirmation formally enabled Japan to submit a written recommendation. At present, Japan’s temporary list has ten sites including this added one.
The Committee also revised the “Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention,” where the procedures for registration recommendation and reporting on conservation conditions are stipulated. So far, each member country may recommend the registration of two sites per session of the Committee (one of them must be a natural heritage site or a cultural landscape). From the 44th session of the Committee in 2020, the number of sites to be deliberated for each county will become one. At the same time, the number of recommendations deliberated at each session will be reduced from 45 to 35. When the number of submitted recommendations exceeds 35, the ones from the member countries having fewer world heritage sites will be prioritized. Japan already has 20 world heritage sites, so the deliberation may be postponed even if a further recommendation is submitted. Accordingly, the deliberation opportunity available to us will become more and more valuable. Through research on the world heritage sites, we will try to contribute to reinforcement of the foundation to protect cultural heritage overseas, providing useful information for people concerned in Japan in preparing recommendations.
The Istanbul Congress Center, the venue of the session
Plenary session of the Committee
The 40th session of the World Heritage Committee was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from July 10th, 2016. Two staff members of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICPT) participated in the Committee.
It was the third review of “The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier,” which includes the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, as one of components of the property, since the first review was conducted in 2009. As the Advisory Body (ICOMOS) recommended that it be inscribed on the World Heritage List, expectations grew among parties concerned when the review the following day became almost certain to be held in the evening of July 15th. Owing to the repercussions of an attempted coup by the military that occurred on the night of the 15th to the early morning of the 16th, however, the session on the 16th was canceled and it was decided on the 17th that the property be inscribed on the List. To reduce the time for discussion, the Committee Members were not allowed to comment on the sites which were recommend by the Advisory Bodies to be inscribed on the World Heritage List; thus, it was unfortunate that we were unable to hear their opinions about the Architectural Work of Le Corbusier.
From this time, regarding the nominated properties for inscription on the World Heritage List, the States Parties concerned are notified of the interim evaluation made by the World Heritage Panel. On the basis of this evaluation, they can modify their nomination files for the final evaluation. There are different responses by the States Parties. While some withdrew their files, others revised them significantly to prepare for the evaluation. There were cases in which the Advisory Bodies’ negative recommendation was overturned by the Committee and it was decided that the property be inscribed on the List. Given such cases, discussions should be continued on how recommendation and evaluations are made by the Advisory Bodies.
Note that although the session of the committee was scheduled to last until July 20th, it was abruptly adjourned on the 17th because of the coup. The session will be resumed at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris from October 24th to 26th, 2016, where agenda items are due to be discussed, such as minor boundary modifications of the properties already inscribed on the World Heritage List, including “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range,” and a revision to the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB), the venue for the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee
The scene of discussions
The 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held from June 28 to July 8 in Bonn, Germany. Representatives from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, attended the session to investigate its trends.
Among the 24 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List in the latest session, 23 are cultural sites and one is a mixed (both natural and cultural) site while there is no natural site. By region, 12 are located in Europe or North America while no property is in Africa except Arabic-speaking northern Africa. In this way, disparities between types of properties or between regions have widened. Meanwhile, industrial heritage sites, such as a railway bridge, dock warehouses, factories for articles of export in high demand globally in the early 20th century, such as nitrogen fertilizers and corned beef, were inscribed on the list, increasing the diversity of cultural properties. As for the nomination from Japan, no remarks were made by committee members during deliberations on the inscription of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan). After adding a footnote to the decision and adopting it as amended, Japan and South Korea respectively read out their statements on the decision, which was a different procedure from normal. One property was deleted from the List of the World Heritage in Danger, while three sites – Hatra (Iraq), the Old City of Sana’a and the Old Walled City of Shibam (both Yemen) –, were added to the list. Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), which was affected by a recent major earthquake, was not inscribed on the list because of the necessity to understand the actual conditions and the Nepalese government’s preference for no inscription of the property.
Meanwhile, as for recommendations deliberated in the session, there were more dialogues made between the Advisory Bodies and respective States Parties over the contents of their respective recommendations. Advice by the Advisory Bodies became more positive, and no major change was made to advice on recommendations receiving a low evaluation from the Advisory Bodies at the session. In addition, the upstream process, in which the Advisory Bodies or the World Heritage Centre provide States Parties with technical assistance for drawing up recommendations and other issues at their request, was institutionalized at the session. In this way, support measures for inscription on the World Heritage List were enhanced, but the Centre and Advisory Bodies have pointed out that some States Parties are not utilizing such support. The World Heritage Centre is making efforts to raise its operational efficiency, but there are limitations to such efforts. All States Parties need to realize the fact that their respective cooperation is necessary to maintain the World Heritage framework.
The moment during the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee when an announcement was made that Mt. Fuji would be inscribed on the World Heritage List
The Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held a seminar on April 21. Entitled “Problems with the World Heritage Committee and Their Solutions: Capitalizing on Those Approaches to Safeguard Cultural Properties under the World Heritage Convention,” the seminar featured a presentation by the author, who has been observing the World Heritage Committee since 2008. In her presentation, the author analyzed what was discussed at Committee sessions.
The public is highly interested in World Heritage, and flocks of visitors visit World Heritage sites. Many of the books on World Heritage cover specific heritage sites. In contrast, only a few books in Japanese specifically discuss the World Heritage Committee and related issues.
During her presentation, the author described the process from nomination of a site to its inscription on the World Heritage List, and she also explained how sites were considered during Committee sessions. The author described how the Committee Members are chosen from 21 of the State Parties to the Convention and how the Advisory Bodies act as expert advisors to the Committee. The author also noted the issues facing the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee). In addition, the author offered her own views on the utility of the World Heritage Convention from her perspective as an expert in safeguarding cultural properties.
The original role of the World Heritage Convention was to establish a framework to safeguard and preserve cultural heritage and natural heritage for posterity. The nomination dossier nominating a site for inscription on the World Heritage List must describe how the site will be protected. The process of nominating a site for inscription on the World Heritage List involves a process of verifying and improving the framework for protecting that site. This approach facilitates international support for effective protection of the site. Gleaning the tendencies of the World Heritage Committee should allow Japan to more effectively prepare nomination dossiers and reports on the state of conservation of given sites. Thus, Institute personnel plan to study the World Heritage Committee and World Heritage Convention in the future as well.
Discussion of “Washi”
The Committee in session
The Ninth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris November 24–28, 2014. The session was attended by 4 personnel from the Institute. These staff members gathered information on the state of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
During the session, 34 elements of intangible cultural heritage were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (the Representative List). The inscribed elements included “Washi, craftsmanship of traditional Japanese hand-made paper.” “Sekishu-Banshi,” which was already inscribed on the Representative List, was joined by “Hon-minoshi” and “Hosokawa-shi.” This was the first time that a State Party had added elements to inscribed intangible cultural heritage. On the day the decision was made, there were numerous Japanese news media at the session. Like the nomination of “Washoku” last year, this year’s nomination also included the word “Wa (which means “Japanese”),” and this may explain the heightened in interest in the nomination.
That said, there were instances when State Parties that nominated elements for inscription on the Representative List or that reported on the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List were criticized by other State Parties for including elements of those parties. Indicative of the relations between states, such conflict is probably unavoidable. The inscription of an element on the Representative List does not imply exclusivity or ownership of that element by the nominating State Party, and an element need not exhibit originality or uniqueness with respect to similar elements. These facts must be publicized both at home and abroad.
As UNESCO’s Secretariat reported, most of the nomination files that State Parties submitted to propose elements for inscription on the Representative List had missing or incorrect information and had to be sent back to the nominating State Party. This was due to lack of experience with document preparation as well as an imperfect system for documenting intangible cultural heritage that should be protected. State Parties should avoid seeking merely to inscribe an element on the Representative List. Support is needed to create a framework for identification and protection of differing intangible cultural heritage. This is, after all, the initial goal of creating a nomination file. Japan can play a role in providing this support.
Discussion of the Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites which Japan nominated
Lobby of the Qatar National Convention Center where the 38th Session took place
The 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held from June 15 to 25 in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Prior to the session, the Institute analyzed documents regarding the state of conservation of properties on the World Heritage List and documents regarding properties nominated for inscription on the List. The Institute also gathered information on trends related to world heritage during the session.
During the session, 26 sites were added to the World Heritage List, bringing the total number of sites on the List to 1,007. The Okavango Delta (Botswana), the only African site recommended for inscription on the List by the Advisory Bodies, was inscribed on the List and the order of nominations was modified so that the site would be the symbolic 1,000th inscription on the List. The Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites that Japan nominated for inscription were discussed. Of the 20 Committee Members not including Japan, 18 expressed approval for the site to be inscribed. Many of the Members cited the mill complex, a site of early modern industry, as evidence of the exchange and amalgamation of the technologies of France and Japan.
During the session, 3 sites were added to the List of World Heritage in Danger and 1 site was removed. One of the included sites was Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines—Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir. Since the site had been submitted as an emergency nomination, it was automatically inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Advisory Bodies had recommended that the nomination of 13 sites be deferred, but 8 of these sites were inscribed on the List during the session. One site that was recommended not to be inscribed was inscribed as an emergency nomination and 2 sites that recommended for referral were also inscribed. The prevalence of nomination decisions overturning the recommendations from Advisory Bodies could compromise the Committee’s credibility and transparency. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo will continue to discern trends regarding Committee sessions.
Baku, the site of the session
Discussion by the Intergovernmental Committee
The 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage met in Baku, Azerbaijan from December 2 to 7, 2013. Three researchers from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo attended the meeting to examine trends related to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (the UNESCO’s 2003 Convention).
In the Intergovernmental Committee, State Parties are most interested in discussion of elements to inscribe on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (the Representative List). During the session, discussion by the Intergovernmental Committee resulted in 25 elements being inscribed on the Representative List. Five of these, including “Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese, notably for the celebration of New Year,” concerned cuisine. Inscription of Washoku was a topic of conversation in Japan. The items to be inscribed on the Representative List are cultural activities or traditions related to cuisine, but few people may be aware that what was inscribed on the list is not Japanese food (i.e. ways to prepare Japanese dishes) but is actually Japanese cuisine (i.e. Japanese dining culture).
Another important topic was the ceiling of the number of files nominated for discussion. There had been a ceiling of 60 files a year that could be discussed by the Intergovernmental Committee, but the decision was made to lower that ceiling to 100 files in total for 2 years. Japan has long provided legal protection to intangible cultural properties, and Japan has numerous elements it wishes to nominate. Japan has adopted an approach of nominating a group of elements like Washi (Japanese paper), which it nominated this year. However, States Parties that have already inscribed a number of their elements on the Representative List are often asked to refrain from making nominations. In the future, Japan will probably be unable to vastly increase the number of its nominations. However, the aim of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention is to recognize diversity in intangible cultural heritage and protect that heritage through the inscription of various elements on the Representative List. Thus, countries must identify their intangible cultural heritage and they must accurately discern and document the properties of that heritage, but some countries are lagging in those efforts. Thus, Japan has ample latitude with which to make the principles of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention a reality by having Japanese experts provide support to countries around the world.
The instant that the decision was made to inscribe Fujisan, sacred place and source ofartistic inspiration (a property nominated by Japan), on the List of World Heritage
The 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held from June 16 to 27 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (the closing ceremony on the 27th took place in Siem Reap-Angkor). Prior to the session, personnel at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo analyzed data on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties and data regarding properties nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List. Five representatives from the Institute, including FUTAGAMI Yoko (Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems), attended the session to gather information on World Heritage issues.
This session of the World Heritage Committee decided to inscribe 19 properties on the World Heritage List. During discussion of Mt. Fuji, which Japan nominated for inscription, 19 of the 20 Committee Members (excluding Japan) expressed approval of the site for inscription, but many opposed a recommendation to exclude the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove because of its distance from the mountain. Committee Members gained a full understanding of the value of Mt. Fuji and the Miho-no-Matsubara site thanks to materials such as letters of nomination and explanations from Japanese representatives, leading to inclusion of the Miho-no-Matsubara site.
In addition, 6 properties in Syria, such as the Site of Palmyra, were inscribed as World Heritage site of Syria properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This was a result of the country’s domestic instability, which has hampered efforts to conserve Syrian cultural properties. However, restoring peace is a complicated issue and will take time.
Additionally, the Committee explored reducing the number of properties to discuss and having Committee Members voluntarily withdraw nominations of properties in their own countries during their term of office. However, many Committee Members opposed these proposals, so no decision was reached. The World Heritage Committee does not merely discuss nomination of properties to the World Heritage List as it also plays an important role in dealing with any topic related to the conservation of World Heritage. Representatives from the Institute were involved in varied aspects of the session’s agenda and they gathered, analyzed, and presented relevant information at the session.
Tauride Palace, venue of the World Heritage Committee
The moment when Palestine’s property was inscribed
Fireworks during the welcoming reception (Peterhof Palace)
The 36th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held from June 24th to July 6th in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation.Prior to the Committee, the Institute summarized and analyzed documents regarding the state of conservation of World Heritage properties and the Advisory Bodies’ evaluation of nominated properties. Three staff members of the Institute joined the Committee in collecting information.
Twenty-six properties were inscribed on the World Heritage List during the session. Four properties that were slated to have their inscription deferred were instead inscribed on the list; this number was smaller than that during the previous session. Seven properties that were to be referred back to the state party for additional information were all inscribed on the List. Although there was less of a tendency for the Advisory Bodies’ recommendations to be overturned by the Committee due to changes in Committee Members as a result of elections,that tendency still remained. Three former mining sites were inscribed on the list, and all three were associated with negative aspects of history, like the spread of labor movements among miners and mining accidents. This tendency to focus on the dark side of the history remains evident.
The World Heritage Convention is said to be UNESCO’s most successful convention since it has been ratified by 190 state parties. The Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem was inscribed on an emergency basis during the session. Of interest is the fact that the “state party” nominating the property was Palestine. In addition, World Heritage property in Mali was destroyed by Muslim fundamentalists, highlighting the global impact of the destruction of World Heritage properties.
Since Palestine ratified the Convention last year, the United States stopped its financial contribution and Japan became the largest contributor to UNESCO. As of the current session, Japan also became a Committee Member with the right to comment freely during sessions, so Japan should be playing a larger role in future sessions. The Institute hopes to provide information to relevant organizations in Japan and to provide support such as information analysis so that Japan can contribute further to the World Heritage Committee.
Survey of species of organisms on stone surfaces and environmental conditions
Signing of the memorandum of understanding
In December 2011, the Institute conducted a field survey of the Angkor Complex. The memorandum of understanding between the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Nara Institute) and the Authority for Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA National Authority) was also renewed.
Efforts at the Angkor Complex seek to clarify environmental conditions suited to preserving stone monuments. Biodeterioration of stone is a common problem in the area, and different species affect stone surfaces differently. However, few organizations are studying the relationship between the condition of stone and the environment and species of microorganisms, and this includes taxonomic studies. The Institute has been studying the relationship between environmental conditions and species of moss, lichen, and algae that grow on stone to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate their effect on stone surfaces. The current survey included specialists in the taxonomic study of lichen from Japan and South Korea, and specialists in plant ecology and biodeterioration of cultural property from Italy. The survey was conducted at sites with different environmental conditions such as the Ta Nei Temple which has been previously surveyed, and several other temples like Ta Keo, Ta Phrom and Bayon. Researchers are now analyzing the information obtained from the field survey. Institute researchers have been monitoring the surface conditions of stone samples taken from a nearby quarry and left at Ta Nei and they have been following up on past attempts at conservation efforts.
Following the field survey, the Institute renewed a memorandum of understanding with the APSARA National Authority on joint research at the Angkor Complex. Previously, both the Tokyo and Nara Institutes each signed an MOU with the APSARA National Authority, but the current MOU was signed by all three organizations so that the Tokyo and Nara Institutes will be able to cooperate more closely with each other in the same area. The signing ceremony was held at the Headquarters of the APSARA National Authority in Siem Reap and was attended by Mr. KAMEI Nobuo (the Director General of the Tokyo Institute), Mr. INOUE Kazuto (Deputy Director General of the Nara Institute), and H.E. Bun Narith (President of the APSARA National Authority). The Institute will study restoration preparations at the West Prasat Top, where repair work is planned.
Opening of the World Heritage Committee
The 35th World Heritage Committee was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from June 19 to 29. The Committee was originally to be held in Bahrain, but the venue was changed two months prior due to anti-governmental protests in Arab countries. Unlike usual committee meetings, no opening ceremony was conducted and there were no excursions to sites. There appeared to be fewer participants than usual because the Committee limited the number of delegates from parties other than Committee Members.
The Committee placed 25 properties, including 3 natural, 1 mixed, and 21 cultural heritage properties, on the World Heritage List. The Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN) had recommended the inscription of 12 items, but this number doubled as a result of discussion among the Committee Members. There are four levels of recommendations from the Advisory Bodies, and second from the lowest is “deferral of inscription.” Ten properties that had been deferred were inscribed on the List. The lowest level of recommendation is “not to inscribe” a property, and the recommendation was made to not inscribe the architectural work of Le Corbusier, which includes the National Museum of Western Art. However, the Committee decided instead to defer inscription. Since last year, recommendations from the Advisory Bodies have tended to be overturned by the Committee, and this year that tendency was even stronger. State Parties to the World Heritage Convention have complained about the lack of transparency in the process of finalizing recommendations from the Advisory Bodies, but some Committee Members said that the flood of decisions disregarding the opinions of specialists would damage the credibility of the Convention.
Political conflicts also emerged regarding properties that had already been inscribed or that were to be inscribed on the List. As an example, the Preah Vihear Temple located on the Cambodian-Thai border was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Since the inscription, armed conflicts have erupted between the two countries because of the unclear border demarcation near the temple. During the Committee session, Thailand announced its intent to withdraw from the World Heritage Convention because they were unsatisfied with the lack of information on plans to manage the site and the lack of transparent decision-making. Opposition arose as to whether to discuss or to avoid discussing issues involving Kosovo and Serbia and Israel and the Arab states.
Ogasawara Islands and Hiraizumi, both properties nominated by Japan, were inscribed on the World Heritage List. During the discussion, the chairperson of the Committee expressed condolence to the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami. The inscription of these properties should have a beneficial effect on the recovery of stricken areas.
Survey on lichen species growing thickly on sandstone (Ta Nei site in Cambodia)
From the end of November to the beginning of December, we conducted research and investigation on local cultural properties in Cambodia and Thailand. At the Ta Nei site in the Cambodian Angkor Site group, we conducted a survey on the relationship between the various plants, which grow thickly on the stones at the site, especially on the lichen and moss species and the environment, together with Professor Julia Caneva at Roma Tre University in Italy. In Thailand, in order to survey the effect of a chamber on site conservation, we observed the Buddha leg stone and relief carved in the laterite of Prachin Buri in the east and the Great Buddha of Wat Sri Chum at the Sukhothai ruins. We conducted a survey on the lacquer used for the Buddha statues in Ayuthea and Bangkok. In addition, at the Fine Arts Department, we had discussions with Thailand, our partner in joint research, on how to proceed with future research. This included discussions in regard to the presence of the Department Director.