Australia > Japan #worldinterview #2

Australia > Japan

Interviewee: Yumiko Nakanishi

What role does ‘world heritage’ play in local communities where you are?

To a certain extent, it has become a trigger to raise people’s awareness on heritage, such as heritage may restrict people’s life (particularly development wise), but it also comes with positive side effects (like economic growth brought by tourists, better planning and investments by the government  etc.). As we have a candidate site, called “Mozu-Furuichi kofungun”, a group of tumuli including enormous royal mounded tombs, inscribed on the tentative list, sometimes world heritage is subjected to controversy. For instance, some conservative people or right-wing people do not want it to be inscribed as they believe the royal tombs should be treated as sacred things and an increase in tourism is not favourable. On the other hand, left-wing people and some academics believe they should not be first designated as National Historic Sites and come to be under the control of the Cultural Properties Protection Law and become open to the wide public before World Heritage inscription.

As a negative effects, people’s attention (the wide public, as well as the government) tend to concentrate on World Heritage sites and forget the other heritage sites or rather regard them less important than WH.

Please share a strategy that you have developed to approach, consult, mitigate, and resolve a challenging issue in your community.

I am not sure if we can call it as a strategy, but… I try to organise things inclusively to all possible stakeholders as much as possible. I try to be as honest and open as possible to provide information to them although we do have some things which we cannot make them open due to our regulation. I believe our strong belief and passion will be conveyed to the others if we work on it hard.

How has your own cultural heritage shaped and/or influenced your professional career?

I grew up in the old downtown and a very famous old shrine was one of my favourite places when I was little. Also, I really like the place where I grew up. Even now I have stroll around in town particularly finding nice old buildings and the like. I was really happy when I got my current job about 12 years ago as Osaka Prefecture is the government where I have been living throughout my life except 8 years in UK. Since I got this job, I have been working hard on as I always want to protect good old nice things I like a lot in this city, my home town. I believe heritage around me and its sentimental value has been one of the big motivations to make me keep going on my career.

What is the most difficult issue right now in Japanese archaeology?

Capacity building is one of the most frustrating things to me now. We hardly have opportunities, system, financial resources (like grants) and time (leave from work, etc) for training ourselves even if we want to step up our professional abilities. Sometimes, ready-set courses of training for a few days are provided by the national government and we may have chances. But often those do not necessarily matche with our needs and also we are too busy to leave our everyday work. Research funds and grants often cannot be used to invest on training and the like. Many young archaeologists with tenure jobs are overwhelmed with everyday work and bureaucracy and do not have enough time for their capacity building. I fear this could cause tragedy in the future.

At this stage now, we do not have enough applicants and candidate when we advertise job vacancy. If the this issue is not solved in near future, the situation would become worse…

 About Yumiko:

Senior Archaeologist, Cultural Properties Protection Division, Osaka Prefectural Board of Education. Currently my position is mainly to advise on management of designated sites and mitigation for rescue excavations for the municipal government of Osaka Prefecture. For personal research projects, run and participate in several underwater archaeological research and valorisation projects, mainly in Okinawa area.

Web site of my work place:

My recent papers


Questions from Gary Pappin in Australia and James Dixon in the UK.

Click the worldinterview tag for more interviews in this series.