The Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, China last May devastated many cultural properties, and specialists from all over China are exerting themselves in restoring them. A workshop jointly hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan and State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China was held in Chengdu city, Sichuan province from February 9 to 12 to support restoration activities and to contribute to future disaster prevention policy planning. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation was entrusted with the work of conducting practical businesses, such as planning programs, selecting lecturers and compiling a textbook, from the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Sixteen people, including four members of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, were dispatched from Japan and over 70 Chinese took part in the workshop. Lectures were given and discussions were held on measures related to earthquake, preventive measures as well as countermeasures, for museums and other buildings. Japanese speakers introduced anti-earthquake measures to protect cultural properties as well as quake-resistant engineering that has developed in Japan since the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. Reports were presented by Chinese participants on the situation of cultural properties devastated by the Wenchuan earthquake and actions taken afterwards. Participants also visited stricken sites in Dujiangyan where restoration is being conducted and exchanged opinions on issues that both countries face as well as future countermeasures. This workshop, in which representatives of private enterprises and museums as well as those of 3 provinces, 4 cities and 20 organizations related to the restoration of cultural properties participated, greatly aided in promoting exchange among Chinese professionals in this field as well as between specialists in Japan and China.
Studies into specific designs for restoration and guidelines for protective measures against earthquakes are ongoing in China, but there remain many issues, such as a shortage of structural engineers, that make us recognize once again the necessity of supporting these activities. Additionally, we felt the need to make every effort to ensure that Japanese ideas of conserving cultural properties are properly understood.