Showa Industrial Devolution site gets UNESCO Heritage status
Showa Industrial Devolution site gets UNESCO Heritage status,
The Yomimuri Shimbun, JULY 6, 2020
BONN — The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved World Cultural Heritage status Sunday for a Showa Era Industrial Devolution site in Fukushima Prefecture.
The site, now mostly forgotten by a public pre-occupied with preparations for the Olympic Games, is the infamous ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It was proposed as a World Heritage site for the way it illustrated the hubris and folly of the nation’s industrial and energy policy of the late 20th and early 21st centuries (1945-2011).
The committee was to discuss Japan’s bid on Saturday, but deliberations were postponed until Sunday after opposition from South Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, India, Pakistan, France, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada on the grounds that granting World Heritage status on the nuclear catastrophe of 2011 might imply that their own pursuit of nuclear energy is destined to end in similar tragedy.
The committee’s members, including the above named countries, approved Japan’s bid unanimously after Japan made a concession that admitted the catastrophe occurred only because of a defect in national culture and psychology, not in any inherent flaws in humanity’s ability to control a complex technology that has the potential to contaminate the entire planet. Other nations, ones which never developed nuclear energy programs, insisted also that Japan acknowledge the injustices that arose from the catastrophe. Japan agreed to set up an information center to deepen the understanding that “a large number of society’s most disadvantaged laborers were brought to the Fukushima Daiichi ruins to work under harsh conditions, and many residents in the region were denied compensation and forced to return to lands still contaminated with radionuclides.”
The information center will open in 2025, and by 2075 it is expected that radiation levels will have declined enough for visitors to safely stay for at least a few hours.
Meiji Industrial Revolution sites get UNESCO Heritage status, Yomiuri Shimbun, July 6, 2015.
Mutant Butterflies Found Near Fukushima, The Onion, August 2012.