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In 2006 and 2007, the Agency for Cultural Affairs first asked local governments for candidate sites to be included on the Provisional List of Potential World Heritage Sites. They proposed a total of 37 items (two of them were later combined into one item for a final total of 36). After deliberating, the agency issued two separate lists, one in 2007 and one in 2008, and nine of the sites were included on the provisional list. The remaining 27 sites were designated as candidate cultural heritage sites for the provisional list.
Among them were the Academic and Educational Heritage Sites of the Mito Domain (Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture), Ashikaga Gakko and Other Heritage Sites of the Ashikaga Clan (Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture), and the Cultural and Public Works Heritage Sites of Early Modern Okayama (Bizen and two other cities and one town in Okayama Prefecture). Three of their component sites—the Kodokan, Ashikaga Gakko, and Shizutani Gakko—were evaluated as sites at which further inquiries should be made in order to determine whether they could be demonstrated to have the Outstanding Universal Value needed to have them registered as World Heritage sites. This was to be done by conducting academic research under the theme “The Educational Heritage of Early Modern Japan”. Future challenges were defined and a roadmap was laid out in order to conduct these verifications.
After receiving the agency’s deliberation results, local governments in possession of educational heritage sites began moving ahead with their own studies and research. In 2012, the World Heritage Inscription Council for the Early Modern Japanese Educational Sites was established in order to encourage transregional cooperation among industrial, government, and academic players in these cities. The council continues to move forward with discussions aimed at earning international recognition for these educational heritage sites.
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