UN approves Japan bid for industrial sites’ heritage status

In this June 29, 2015 photo, tourists visit a part of Hashima Island, commonly known as Gunkanjima, which means “Battleship Island,” off Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, southern Japan.  The island is one of 23 old industrial facilities seeking UNESCO's recognition as world heritage “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” meant to illustrate Japan's rapid transformation from a feudal farming society into an industrial power at the end of the 19th century. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is expected to approve the proposal during a meeting being held in Bonn, Germany, through July 9. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
In this June 29, 2015 photo, tourists visit a part of Hashima Island, commonly known as Gunkanjima, which means “Battleship Island,” off Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, southern Japan. The island is one of 23 old industrial facilities seeking UNESCO's recognition as world heritage “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” meant to illustrate Japan's rapid transformation from a feudal farming society into an industrial power at the end of the 19th century. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is expected to approve the proposal during a meeting being held in Bonn, Germany, through July 9. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BONN, Germany (AP) — A fortress island near Nagasaki has been awarded world heritage status after Japan and South Korea resolved a spat over whether to acknowledge the site’s history of wartime forced labor.

Japan had applied to list Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island, as a world heritage location along with almost two dozen other sites to illustrate the country’s industrial revolution during the 19th century.

But until recently, Seoul had objected to the listing unless the role of Korean prisoners forced to work there during World War II was formally recognized.

The decision Sunday by the U.N. cultural body UNESCO is likely to drive up tourism to the Nagasaki region. Similar listings for the Zollverein coal mine complex in Germany’s Ruhr Valley have helped boost visitors to those sites in recent years.

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