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ICC Note: On June 30, UNESCO decided to add Japanese 12 sites that are linked to the history of persecuted Christians to the World Heritage list. These sites in southwestern Japan were where Christians practiced their faith in secret despite persecution for most of the Edo Period (1603-1868) under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate.  

07/01/2018 Japan (Japan Times) – UNESCO decided Saturday to add 12 sites in southwestern Japan that are linked to the history of the country’s persecuted Christians to the World Heritage list.

The sites include the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, the oldest surviving church in the country and which is already designated as a national treasure; the remains of Hara Castle, a site of the Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion that led to establishment of a national policy of seclusion; and the beginning of the hidden Christians’ unique system to transmit their faith and beliefs by themselves.

The sites were among 28 World Heritage candidates reviewed by the U.N.’s World Heritage Committee for four days through Monday in Bahrain.

The decision by the committee brings the total number of World Heritage sites in Japan to 22 — 18 cultural and four natural sites.

The other locations include the village of Sakitsu in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, where Christians practiced their faith in secret despite persecution for most of the Edo Period (1603-1868) under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Those who continued to practice Christianity despite persecution “nurtured distinctive cultural traditions,” according to the Japanese government.

The newly added sites “bear unique testimony to a cultural tradition nurtured by hidden Christians in the Nagasaki region who secretly transmitted their faith during the period of prohibition from the 17th to the 19th century,” the committee said on its website.

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