• Japan In Focus

Sado Island Unites for World Heritage Registration; Speakers, Locals Discuss Benefits at Symposium

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants show support for the registration of Sado Island Gold Mine as a World Cultural Heritage site at a symposium held on Dec. 16 in Sado, Niigata Prefecture.

SADO, Niigata — In a bid to have Sado Island Gold Mine inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site next year, the Sado city government held a symposium on Dec. 16 to unite islanders towards the goal.

At the symposium held in Sado, Niigata Prefecture, about 150 residents listened to the challenges posed by the rapid increase in tourists and other issues.

A keynote speech was made by Ken Iwakawa, the section chief of the tourism and town development division at Yakushima town, Kagoshima Prefecture, which is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the registration of Yakushima island as a World Heritage site.

He said that his island — which has a population of about 11,000 — had been flooded by up to around 400,000 tourists, causing environmental destruction due to a lack of restrooms and parking. The town then took measures such as creating local rules to preserve the island’s nature.

Talking about the benefits of registration, Iwakawa said, “A World Heritage inscription will gain publicity and heighten the pride of local residents.”

The speech was followed by a panel discussion, involving the speakers as well as hotel owners and farmers who shared their hopes for registration.

Students of a local high school expressed their commitment to supporting the registration, with one of them saying, “I hope that the registration will make the young people of Sado Island proud of where they live.”