The prefectures of Nagasaki and Kumamoto, located on Japan’s western island of Kyushu, have requested that the country’s central government recommend a group of 13 historical Christian sites be officially listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Should the government support the recommendation, the U.N. could begin deliberating on the recognition as early as next year.
Governors Hodo Nakamura and Ikuo Kabashima submitted their proposals to culture minister Hakubun Shimomura earlier this week. Among the 13 named locations include Nagasaki City’s Oura Cathedral, already a recognized national treasure, and the former site of Hara Castle in Minamishimabara, which served as a battlefield during the Shimabara Rebellion some 370 years ago. While 12 of the 13 sites are spread across Nagasaki Prefecture, one resides in Kumamoto Prefecture.
Nagasaki was the entry point for Christian missionaries in Japan, and thus where the religion began to take hold. The Tokugawa shogunate imposed a ban on the religion in 1614, forcing the Christian movement to go underground for a period of around 250 years. Once the existing regime ended, the religion was openly practiced in the region once more. Minister Shimomura commented that the government will give the proposals serious consideration, adding that he welcomes more suggestions of places in Japan to be recognized as World Heritage sites.
[via Jiji Press]