Sado Gold Mine to be recommended as World Heritage site

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Friday that Japan will recommend the Sado Gold Mine as a possible UNESCO World Heritage site.

He announced the decision despite an earlier plan to postpone the recommendation due to opposition from South Korea.

The Council for Cultural Affairs, an expert panel of the Cultural Affairs Agency, had chosen the gold mine on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture as a candidate to be a World Heritage site, but South Korea opposed Japan’s move, claiming that Koreans had been forced to work there.

The government planned to postpone the recommendation, as opposition from South Korea could jeopardize the site’s designation.

However, voices calling for the recommendation grew among local residents and members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, prompting the government to reverse its plan, according to sources.

The government plans to submit the recommendation letter to UNESCO by the deadline on Tuesday after gaining approval at a Cabinet meeting, eyeing designation at a 2023 meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

South Korea has called for Japan to drop its selection of the Sado Gold Mine as a World Heritage site candidate. Japan has denied South Korea’s claims about forced labor.

Considering the upcoming presidential election in South Korea in March, Japan’s Foreign Ministry and other organizations were reluctant to make the recommendation, as such a decision could become another political issue between the two countries.

However, the LDP’s conservative wing, among others, protested the government’s move.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “It’s wrong [for the government] to not make a recommendation in an attempt to avoid an argument.”