Signing ceremony at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia: Arev Samuelyan, Deputy Minister of Culture (left) and the author (right)
Director General KAMEI Nobuo, accompanied by YAMAUCHI Kazuya, Head of the Regional Environment Section of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation and HIRAIDE Hidefumi, Chief of General Affairs of the Department of Research Support and Promotion, was invited and visited the Republic of Armenia from May 25 to June 2 at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture. This invitation was in response to a project by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan that invited Arev Samuelyan, Deputy Minister of Culture to Japan last year to inform her of the current state of safeguarding of Japan’s cultural properties. A networking core center project of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan had conducted workshops on the conservation of bronze objects since 2011. With the conclusion of these workshops, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia and the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo signed an Agreement for Cooperation in the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage for the next 5 years. The Japanese representatives also attended the workshop’s closing ceremony and an opening ceremony for an exhibit of items that had been conserved.
The signing ceremony for the new memorandum of agreement took place at the Ministry of Culture and the opening ceremony for the exhibit took place at the History Museum on the 26th. Addressing numerous members of the press, Deputy Minister Samuelyan expressed appreciation and thanks for Japan’s cooperation in training Armenian personnel. On the 27th, KAMEI delivered a lecture entitled “The current state of and issues with safeguarding Japan’s cultural properties.” In this lecture, he explained the necessity of fostering personnel to pass on techniques and providing materials and tools needed to safeguard various cultural properties. KAMEI also emphasized that he had the sense of an impending crisis regarding the safeguarding cultural properties in Japan, given its shrinking society. The Japanese representatives visited Armenia’s foremost monasteries, convents and churches along with museum conservation facilities from 28th. Through the on-site visit, the Japanese representatives experienced Armenia’s wonderful culture while they realized the necessity of further technical exchanges between Japan and Armenia.
I took over the director’s duties from my predecessor Mr. Suzuki Norio and assumed the post of Director General in April 1, 2010. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has a long history spanning 80 years, including the years of the antecedent art research institute, and stores an enormous amount of data on cultural property research amassed by our senior staff. These data are valuable assets of the Institute and form the foundation of research on cultural properties that supports the present-day administration for cultural properties. In the middle of the recent administrative and financial reform, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is positioned as one facility of the National Institute for Cultural Heritage which consists of four national museums and two research institutes. In spite of the changes accompanying the reform, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has a firm foundation that the precedent Director General Mr. Suzuki took the lead in building. This foundation includes the systematization of investigation and research of cultural properties, the unification and systematization of development in conservation and restoration techniques, and sharing of data on cultural properties. I will take over this firm foundation, further develop it, and do my utmost to accomplish the social mission that was given to the Institute.
Recently, there have been demands for active links with the community and disclosure of information in a variety of fields, and approaches to open up organizations are being taken. Although research on cultural properties is apt to be specialized and difficult, I believe investigation and research for protecting cultural properties includes giving guidance to get as many people as possible to realize the importance of and cooperate in conservation. Therefore, when we make public the stored data on cultural properties and research achievements, we regard it crucial to convey them in an easy to understand way.
The Institute does not have a sufficient number of researchers, but there are many researchers with abilities that can be used overseas, and their research activities are highly rated both in Japan and abroad. We all do our utmost to protect cultural properties so that our Institute can play a central role domestically and internationally. Your ongoing support and cooperation would be greatly appreciated.