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Japan pushes controversial mine to be designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Friday that Japan will recommend a former gold mine on Sado Island for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list, despite South Korean objections that the site is inappropriate due to its wartime abuse of Korean labourers — a sensitive issue that continues to strain relations between the neighbours.

Kishida’s decision to propose the 400-year-old site in northern Japan appears to be a reversal of his previous, more cautious approach, following a strong push from prominent ultra-rightwing historical revisionists in his ruling party.

According to Kishida, the Sado mine is significant in Japan’s industrial history.

“Despite its considerable value, I believe there are differing opinions on its registration… That is why we want to begin discussions as soon as possible,” he stated.

The Sado mine was chosen as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status by Japan’s Council for Cultural Affairs last month, sparking outrage in South Korea.

Seoul is opposed to Japan’s nomination since many Koreans sent to Japan during its colonialism of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 were forced to work at the mine.


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