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UNESCO’s advisory board has released the results of their analysis of Mt. Fuji’s bid for World Heritage Site status. The mountain and its surrounding area have been deemed “fit for certification,” with the title expected to be officially given in June.

Included as part of the Mt. Fuji application were 33 historic sites, including Shiraito no Taki Waterfall and the sacred summit of the mountain itself.

In January of 2012, the Japanese government submitted applications for both Mt. Fuji and the city of Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture. UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) carried out fact-finding missions from August to September at the two locations.

ICOMOS ruled that Mt. Fuji is a suitable example of the indigenous culture and traditions of Japan. However, the board also removed the Miho no Matsubara coastline in Shizuoka Prefecture from the Fuji package, citing its 45-kilometer (28-mile) distance from the mountain and breakwater which mars the natural scenery.

The rulings of ICOMOS typically carry a great deal of weight in the World Heritage Site selection process, and as such Fuji is expected to officially receive certification at UNESCO’s selection committee meeting this coming June in Cambodia.

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Contrary to Fuji, Kamakura was unable to gain the body’s recommendation. The application package for Kamakura, which served as the capital of Japan from 1192 to 1333, included its centuries-old Great Buddha statute and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, along with 21 other local temples and shrines.

While acknowledging Kamakura’s importance as a political center for the 12th century samurai government that ruled Japan, ICOMOS did not feel the city’s remaining sites have the historical value to warrant certification. In light of the ruling, Japan’s Ministry of Culture said it plans to meet with other government agencies and independent organizations to determine the best course to take moving forward.

Among the criteria ICOMOS uses in judging are the site’s universal value and the quality of its preservation. The advisory board’s rulings fall into four classifications. The highest is “fit for certification,” and is given to locations deemed worthy of standing alongside other Word Heritage Sites. Of the five Japanese locations that were previously so evaluated, all were eventually given World Heritage status.

Next on the scale is “pending further review.” For sites judged as such, ICOMOS requests additional information and carries out another inspection the following year. Recently, however, there have been cases of sites receiving this designation and still being recognized as World Heritage Sites within the same year.

The third possible ruling is “judgment postponed,” expressing that revisions must be made to the central nature of the bid. Applications may be resubmitted two years following the ruling, with a second site visit carried out at that time. The city of Hiraiizumi, located in Iwate Prefecture, and Shimane Prefecture’s Iwami Ginzan silver mine were both previously given this judgment. Hiraiizumi but gained World Heritage Site status certification three years later, after reworking the concept behind its application, while Iwami Ginzan was certified after it was found that the basis for the initial ruling by ICOMOS was based on misinformation.

The lowest ruling ICOMOS can convey is “unfit for certification,” in which case reapplication is not possible.

Source: NHK
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