ISSN 2330-717X

Japan Scraps World Heritage Bid For Christian Sites


The Japanese cabinet on Feb. 16 approved withdrawing its bid to add churches and other Christian sites in southwestern Japan to the UNESCO World Heritage register.

A UNESCO advisory panel asked Japan in January to review its nomination of the 14 locations in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures, citing failure to explain their overall value, The Japan Times reported.

The sites include Nagasaki’s Oura Church, built in 1864 and Japan’s oldest church, and the Sakitsu community in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, where Christians practiced their faith despite a ban, persecution and even torture starting in the 17th century.

The period gave rise to the nation’s so-called “Hidden Christians,” who retained their faith and traditions down the generations despite having almost no contact with the Christian community overseas.

The government considers that the sites illustrate the 250-year history of Christianity in Japan, from the period of persecution to the faith’s subsequent revival. About one percent of today’s population is Christian.

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The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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