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ICC Note: UNESCO recommend 12 sites linked to the persecution of Japanese ‘Hidden Christians’ for World Heritage status. These sites in the Nagasaki and Kumamoto region show how Japanese Christians persevered despite heavy persecution against their faith during the oppressive Tokugawa Shogunate from the 17th to 19th centuries.

05/04/2018 Japan (Christian Today) – Twelve sites connected to the persecution of Japanese ‘Hidden Christians’ have been recommended for World Heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Two UNESCO advisory panels informed the Japanese government of its recommendations – putting the ‘Hidden Christian sites in Nagasaki and Amakusa region’ on the World Heritage List – on May 3, according to The Asahi Shimbun.

The sites show how Japanese Christians endured despite heavy persecution against their faith under the oppressive Tokugawa Shogunate from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Mostly located in the Nagasaki region with another in Amakusa, in the Kumamoto region, they include sites of clandestine worship, survival and protest.

They also include Nagasaki’s Oura church, Japan’s oldest standing church site, where many secret believers sustained their faith before the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873.

The Oura church, recently renovated, this year opened an exhibition telling the story of Christianity in the country, from the introduction of Catholicism to its violent suppression in the early 17th century and the two centuries for which it was illegal, where many believers were tortured and killed if they did not recant their faith.

In 2017, Japan’s era of ‘hidden’ Christianity and subsequent martyrdom was dramatised in the film Silence, which was nominated for several Academy Awards in the US.

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