Govt to Take Lead at National Repair Center for Cultural Properties; Responsible for Raising Awareness, Developing Human Resources

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People checking the condition of a cultural property at the Kyoto National Museum, a potential site for the planned national center for the repair of cultural properties, in September.

The government is to play an active role at the planned national center for the repair of cultural properties, focusing not only on repair works but also on training human resources to achieve sustainable preservation and utilization of cultural properties in the medium- and long-term, according to a basic plan formulated by the government.

The center is planned to be established in Kyoto by 2030 to carry out the repair of cultural properties and training of human resources in an integrated manner.

The Cultural Affairs Agency will soon announce the basic plan, according to government sources.

In Japan, repair works of cultural properties has been carried out with a focus on handing them down to future generations in current condition, rather than restoring them to their original condition.

So far, the repair of cultural properties has been mainly handled by private-sector workshops with funding from the government. On this point, the basic plan says, “It is unclear which party plays the central role in promoting the repair of cultural properties and controlling the quality.” It also points out the lack of human resources who will coordinate repair plans as a problem.

The basic plan was formulated with the expectation that the government will play a central role in repair works so that information is consolidated and necessary tasks are completed systematically. National treasures and important cultural properties, such as sculptures and paintings, are expected to be repaired at the center.

Meanwhile, the basic plan also indicates concerns over repair techniques due to the aging of craftspeople, saying “more than a few repair techniques are on the verge of disappearing due to the lack of successors.” It also touches on the difficulty of securing space for repair works as well as procuring necessary tools and raw materials.

  • The basic plan stipulates the repair center’s responsibilities as the “control tower” for the repair of cultural properties as follows:
  • – Promoting repairs, including the consolidation and dissemination of information
  • – Establish a repair and research system for the study of cultural works
  • – Developing human resources
  • – Raising public awareness

Specifically, the center is expected to manage all procedures from receiving repair consultations to aftercare in an integrated manner and systematically preserve records of repair work.

It will also have the responsibility of matching those aspiring to become repair technicians with private-sector workshops looking for successors.

The center is also expected to make efforts towards eliminating the lack of understanding of Japan’s repair culture both at home and abroad through exhibitions and videos.