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UNESCO World Heritage listing is not always cut and dried issue

18 1 4

In mid-April, I boarded The Asahi Shimbun's plane early in the morning to tour the islands of Amami-Oshima, Tokunoshima and Okinawa.

Looking down at these breathtakingly beautiful islands with their mangrove forests and mountains inhabited by "yanbaru-kuina" Okinawa rail birds, I felt certain of their designation as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

But I was wrong. A UNESCO panel informed the Japanese government last week that it was deferring its decision.

Deeply disappointed, I was also made acutely aware of the powerful influence of the World Heritage Committee that keeps us on edge each time a site is nominated and screened.

The lofty spirit of the 1972 World Heritage Convention--which is that the........

© The Asahi Shimbun