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The 21st Seminar”Heritage of Paradise in Danger: with a focus on Nan Madol” was held in the Sophia University International Conference Center(28.07.2017)

21stseminarphotoOn Monday, July 24, 2017, the 21st JCIC-Heritage seminar, “Heritage of Paradise in Danger: with a focus on Nan Madol” was held in the Sophia University International Conference Center (17th floor, Building 2, Sophia University Yotsuya Campus).

The vast stone site located on the island of Pohnpei in the Republic of Micronesia, Nan Madol was inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2016. Japanese researchers and related agencies provided support in a variety of forms through the nomination process.

First of all, in 2011 the JCIC-Heritage conducted a needs survey of the Nan Madol ruins, in response to a request from the UNESCO Office in Apia. This survey involved a field study of the Nan Madol ruins along with interviews with related parties, followed by the preparation of a report summarizing the current state of the ruins and topics in areas such as policy measures. Later, in response to this survey, Japanese researchers and related agencies implemented full-fledged efforts to support the inscription of the site to the World Heritage List. This Seminar was held to review this series of achievements while also discussing what kinds of challenges are faced today by the Nan Madol ruins and other cultural heritage sites in the Pacific Island countries and what kind of cooperation would be appropriate to deploy in response to these challenges.

The seminar began with opening remarks from the organizers: Yoshiaki Ishizawa, Chairperson of the JCIC-Heritage (Director, Sophia Asia Center for Research and Human Development) and Toshiaki Koso, Chairperson of Sophia School Corporation, followed by a guest remarks by His Excellency Mr. John Fritz, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia in Japan. In his remarks, Mr. Fritz expressed gratitude for Japan’s support through now and his expectations for future cooperative ties between the two nations.

 A series of lectures followed. In the first, Tomo Ishimura (Head, Audio Visual Documentation Section, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) described the aim of the Seminar, making clear the theme of the Seminar by mentioning the characteristics of the Pacific Island countries and their cultural heritage from the perspectives of both vulnerabilities and potentialities.

 Next, Osamu Kataoka (Researcher, Intercultural Research Institute, Kansai Gaidai University) delivered a lecture on the Nan Madol ruins, the focal point of the Seminar, entitled “The World Heritage Inscription of the Nan Madol and Japan’s International Cooperation.” Together with describing an overview of the ruins, the background of their inscription on the World Heritage List, and the reason that they were simultaneously on the List of the World Heritage in Danger, he also identified some specific topics that should be addressed in the future in order to help save the ruins from endangered status.

 Takuya Nagaoka (Executive Director, NGO Pasifika Renaissance) then delivered a lecture entitled “Activities for Protecting Cultural Heritage in Micronesia”. Together with introducing the efforts of his nonprofit organization to protect intangible cultural heritage (oral tradition) in Micronesia such as publicizing and raising awareness activities through the Internet, social-studies textbooks, and other and developing human resources through transfer of visual recording technologies in cooperation with local government, he also identified some related issues, including local community involvement.

 The final lecture, by Kanefusa Masuda (Senior Researcher, Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University), was entitled “Protecting Cultural Heritage and the local community Participation in Pacific Island Countries”. Together with pointing out the problems in the areas of development and site management faced by cultural heritage in Micronesia and other countries of Pacific Island, he also described the need for cultural heritage management plans and protection structure covering all of Pacific Island Countries as a whole, for the purposes of disaster prevention and post-disaster recovery.

 The following panel discussion addressed the theme of “The Protection of the Cultural Heritage in Pacific Island Countries and Japan’s International Cooperation”. Emceed by Akira Matsuda (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo), it featured four panelists (Ishimura, Kataoka, Nagaoka, and Masuda). At first, the emcee Prof. Matsuda proposed that each panelist conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of cultural heritage in Pacific Island Countries, and the panelists expressed their views from a wide range of perspectives, including the nature of Pacific Island Countries as micro states, the low level of local peoples’ interest in cultural heritage, the severe threat of climate change, and relations with Japan.

Discussions then proceeded based on questions collected from the audience. Topics addressed included local people’s involvement with cultural heritage, methods of sustainable tourism development, and human resources development (e.g., the skills needed of local heritage managers). A wide range of proposals was made, including ones concerning placing value on ruins, providing high-quality tourist services to overcome geographical restrictions, and enhancing the training programme for local experts in collaboration with research institutes from Japan. Each subject was discussed from a practical approach, backed by the panelists’ experience in Pacific Island Countries.

 Lastly, Consortium Vice Chairperson Yasuyoshi Okada (Director, The Institute for Cultural Studies of Ancient Iraq, Kokushikan University) delivered a closing remarks, bringing this highly successful Seminar to a close.

 Approximately 84 persons participated in this Seminar.

The organizers would like to thank the cosponsor, the Sophia Asia Center for Research and Human Development, as well as related parties who cooperated in the event and all participants for the success of this Seminar.

 

【Photo captions】 (from top)

 

1:The organizers’ remarks from Yoshiaki Ishizawa

2:The co-organizers’ remarks from Toshiaki Koso

3:The guest remarks by His Excellency Mr. John Fritz

4:Satoshi Ishimura’s lecture

5:Osamu Kataoka’s lecture

6:Takuya Nagaoka’s lecture

7:Kanefusa Masuda’s lecture

8:Akira Matsuda, emcee of the panel discussion

9: The panel discussion

10:The closing remarks from Vice Chairperson Yasuyoshi Okada

11:The Seminar venue

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