Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution heritage, registered as a World Heritage Site in 2015, put forward its value as a World Heritage Site called the Industrial Revolution in Asia, but caused controversy over the issue of forced labor of workers during the Pacific War. In addition to excellent universal values, the World Heritage Commission has asked them to come up with an interpretation strategy to understand the entire history of the heritage and report the progress of implementation. Japan submitted SOC reports((State of Conservation Report -Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding, and Coal Mining) in 2017 and 2019 under the name of the cabinet office, but it is pointed out that the implementation of the recommendations is insufficient.
In this study, in order to identify specific issues after the registration of the Meiji Industrial Revolution heritage, the main contents of the SOC report and the field situation were analyzed. In 2019, the SOC only focused on visitor management strategies for each heritage, but did not actually deal with the interpretation of the entire history. In addition, it did not fulfill the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, which specified dialogue with neighboring countries, but replaced them with expert committees and interregional councils in Japan.
In June 2021, UNESCO and the ICOMOS joint investigation team concluded that “interpretation measures to help understand forced workers are insufficient,” and that “the Industrial Heritage Information Center has not yet fully fulfilled the promises made by the parties or decisions of the World Heritage Committee.” Eventually, the World Heritage Committee expressed “strong regret” and decided to submit a heritage preservation report again by December 1, 2022. Communication and solutions between Korea and Japan are required in the understanding of the World Heritage Convention, which pursues universal value and pluralism amid constant debate.