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ICC Note: Several Christian landmarks in Japan marking the religious persecution Christians endured during the Tokugawa shogunate (1630-1867) might soon gain World Heritage recognition status from UNESCO. The sites, located in the regions of Nagasaki and Amakusa, show where locals practiced their faith in secret hundreds of years ago.  

06/01/2018 Japan (Christian Today) – Christian sites in Japan might soon gain World Heritage recognition status from the United Nations’ cultural committee at the UNESCO.

The sites, located in the regions of Nagasaki and Amakusa, include the Oura Cathedral, the Hara Castle, and several Japanese Christian villages, where locals practiced their faith in secret hundreds of years ago.

Some 17 Japanese Christians were memorialized at the Oura Cathedral, Japan’s oldest surviving church, along with nine European priests, while many Catholic rebels battled for their faith near the Hara Castle during the Edo period.

If granted the status, these places will be added to the current list of 800 UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world and the number of Japanese World Heritage sites will increase to 22 from its existing 14 cultural and natural sites.

Japan reportedly submitted its recommendations to the UNESCO panel in 2013 and finally got the endorsement in May this year. UNESCO will discuss Japan’s latest recommendations at another panel meeting from June 24 to July 4 in Bahrain with the agency’s Intergovernmental Committee.

“[The recommendation] recognizes the centrality of hidden Christian history in Japanese soil, affirming the instinct of [Endo] whose book Silence has been a significant contributor of Japanese understanding of her own history,” author and cultural expert Makoto Fujimura told Christianity Today. “It accentuates the cultural value of the resilience of Christianity even under many years of persecution.”

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org