UNESCO should take into account opposing views in its heritage registration process, a committee report said, after Japan criticized the U.N. body for listing Chinese documents relating to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre as a Memory of the World.
Japan has been urging the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to improve the transparency and fairness of the screening and registration process after discussions on the registration in 2015 of "Documents of Nanjing Massacre," submitted by China, were conducted behind closed doors by experts like other registrations.
UNESCO will make a final decision on the recommendations to change the process as early as this summer after hearing the opinions of member countries at the executive board meeting which started Wednesday.
UNESCO's International Advisory Committee proposed in the report published on the website that the subcommittee assessing the nominated documents will take into account "all the comments received in its assessment," including "objections."
Even if the new registration system is realized, it remains to be seen whether UNESCO will consider Japan's opposition to the filing of an application by a South Korean civic group and others to have documents related to so-called "comfort women" forced into wartime Japanese military brothels listed as the Memory of the World.
Tokyo will stress its stance on the matter that the "political use of UNESCO cannot be allowed," a Japanese government source said.
In the report, the IAC said the objective of the Memory of the World program is "to facilitate preservation of the world's past, present and future documentary heritage."
The report said the Memory of the World program "does not enter into disputes concerning the interpretation of historical events, nor does it take sides."
In the newly recommended registration process, the nomination will be "immediately" open for comment, the report said. The comments will be transmitted to the subcommittee assessing the nominations, it said.
Following the listing of the Nanjing Massacre documents, Japan withheld its obligatory dues of around 3.85 billion yen to UNESCO until last December in opposition to the listing.
Tokyo disputes the number of Chinese civilians and soldiers killed in the incident, citing historians' estimates ranging from tens of thousands to 200,000, while Beijing claims over 300,000 were killed.
While acknowledging it cannot be denied there were killings of noncombatants and looting in the "Nanjing Incident," Japanese officials argue UNESCO's registration could help China step up its campaign to highlight what it calls "the crimes of Japanese militarism."© KYODO