Japan goes forward with Sado gold mine World Heritage bid

Nikkei -- Jan 28
The Japanese government has decided to go ahead with the nomination of a site of former gold mines on Sado Island, part of Niigata Prefecture, for UNESCO's World Heritage list, bowing to conservative lawmakers looking for a campaign issue and much to the chagrin of South Koreans who feel emotional wounds from World War II.

Tokyo had been poised to postpone the recommendation but caved in to conservative members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who might use the decision while appealing for votes ahead of upper house elections in July.

The reversal comes mere days ahead of the submissions deadline on Tuesday

South Korea opposes the recommendation, arguing workers from the Korean Peninsula were forced to work in the mines during World War II.

Amid North Korea's successive missile launches and China's increasing military provocations in the region, Japan-South Korea relations, which have been frayed for years now, could deteriorate further.

On Monday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters the government would "work out an effective measure" to achieve the listing, implying that the process would be put on the back burner in the face of South Korea's opposition.

The site, which consists of several gold and silver mines, was the world's largest producer of gold in the 17th century, according to Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs.