Ms. Kotler writes of a bunch of pretty unappetizing industrial sites
that the Japanese offered up as UNESCO sites years before 2015, as
they seem to have been approved in 2015.
"..... None of the sites, however, give their full history and focus
only on the few initial years of industrialization in early Meiji with
little reference to Western influences."
The first casual click on a Google search discloses the actual UNESCO
website where you can see Japan's current 18 cultural, 4 natural, and
8 tentative sites. My impression is the deal is done.
And the importation of Western technology is mentioned several times
at a glance, so I'm not at all sure what Ms. Kotler is on about.
Excerpt marked ***** below
Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel,
Shipbuilding and Coal Mining
The site encompasses a series of twenty three component parts, mainly
located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid
industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century
to the early 20th century, through the development of the iron and
steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. ****The site illustrates
the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from
Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this
technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions.
The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful
transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.****
It would be (perhaps at best, only very moderately) interesting to see
real academic investigation of these sites and their progression
towards UNESCO status. (I was once told by some Tokyo real estate
folks the kiss of death was the designation of your building as a ward
/ city / prefectural / national heritage site, because then you'd have
to undo it to redevelop the site or try to work around it, which is
I'm sure contributes to why buildings are destroyed as soon as
possible without any consideration for preservation.)
One wonders if these heavy industry sites were designated Very
Important Culture Sites! then someone decided the only thing left was
to seek (and apparently get) UNESCO status and at least have leverage
for some tourist income and some government preservation funding. I
guess there's some appeal to UNESCO sites for international travelers,
but some of these places are really not attractive and not in normal
I may ask someone that actually knows something about the travel
business in Japan to contribute a comment, but as a busy businessman
without an ideological ax to grind, I'm not sure he'd bother.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mindy Kotler <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 8:02 AM
Subject: [NBR's_Japan_Forum] Meiji Restoration
To: [log in to unmask]
I am not sure what sort of celebrations there have been regarding the
Meiji Restoration, but I do know the Abe government is very well aware
of the anniversary.
The push in 2015 to have various industrial properties and the odd
inclusion (albeit politically focused) among them of Shoin’s
home/school in UNESCO’s World Industrial Heritage sites is a clear
acknowledgement of this history ,
are a not so subtle statement of Japanese pride of industrializing
before the rest of Asia.
None of the sites, however, give their full history and focus only on
the few initial years of industrialization in early Meiji with little
reference to Western influences. Many of the sites—those concerned
with coal and steel—have especially dark social and political
histories that are ignored. Before the War, Korean and Chinese labor
was underpaid and abused at these sites. Many forget that one-third of
the coal miners were women. During the war, Korean forced labor was
combined with Chinese and Allied POW slave labor. Our very own,
late-Lester Tenney was a POW coal miner at Mitsui’s Miike Mine, one of
Last week, PM Abe was the keynoter at a Mofa-sponsored Symposium
“Shared Values and Democracy in Asia”
5, 2018. As with the UNESCO sites, the reference to Meiji is used to
distinguish an advanced Japan from the rest of a backward Asia.
”This year Japan commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration.
One hundred and fifty years ago, as the new nation was being
formed, the first article of the five-article oath taken by His
Majesty at the time was that, “The practice of discussion and debate
shall be universally adopted, and all measures shall be decided by
Since that time until the present day, we have continued to walk
what is, if we think about it, an unending path while we formed and
fostered our democracy, facing various trials regarding it.
Is democracy not just like a tree that takes many long years to
mature? In order to grow it must extend its roots deep down into the
I wonder how the audience, mostly South Asian, received this speech.
It would be interesting to hear from any members that attending this
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