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UNESCO Japan panel urges stronger cultural asset protection
The Japan Times

Kyodo -- Reacting in part to the destruction of giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan, a subcommittee of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO has urged the government to strengthen protection of cultural assets around the world, officials said.

This is the first time in six years that the subcommittee, headed by well-known artist Ikuo Hirayama, has adopted a resolution delivered to the government.

The resolution, adopted Wednesday, says Japan needs to strengthen efforts to protect cultural assets, particularly in light of having been a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for over 50 years.

It also says UNESCO's role is becoming increasingly important amid growing worldwide problems, including environment, population and digital divide issues.

The resolution urges the government to devise measures to take swift action when a cultural asset is placed in danger by a conflict and demands it press other countries to reinforce the protection of cultural assets.

It also calls for increased educational support in developing countries, intended to increase literacy and prevent the spread of AIDS.

In March, UNESCO officials confirmed the Taliban's destruction of Buddhist artifacts in Afghanistan, including the heads and legs of the famous giant twin Buddha statues in Bamyan Province.

The Buddhas, 55 and 38 meters tall, were carved out of cliffs about 100 km northwest of Kabul. They date from the fifth century, long before the spread of Islam to the region in the ninth century.


Updated: 23-7-2001

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