United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO and Asahi Shimbun of Japan to collaborate on visibility of Intangible Cultural Heritage

On Thursday, 28 August 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura and the President of the Asahi Shimbun Company, one of the leading newspaper publishers in Japan, Mr Kotaro Akiyama, signed a Media Partnership Agreement through which they will collaborate to raise awareness about intangible cultural heritage among the general public worldwide.

Over the past decade, UNESCO has made continuous efforts to broaden the safeguarding of cultural heritage to include living traditions and to provide them with the same level of international recognition and protection as tangible heritage. This culminated in the adoption, in 2003, of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which has been signed to date by some 100 of UNESCO’s Member States. The Convention seeks to safeguard diverse cultural and social practices ranging from oral traditions and performances to rituals, festivities and knowledge systems regarding nature.

As the first print media to join the coalition of UNESCO’s major private sector partners, Asahi will contribute to UNESCO’s efforts to promote this living heritage. The Agreement foresees a series of articles published by Asahi and the organization of international symposiums, seminars exhibitions and other events to raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding intangible heritage.

“Sealing this partnership is a cause for celebration,” the Director-General of UNESCO said. “We must use all means to promote the importance of intangible heritage, which can only be safeguarded if the populations themselves, and in particular young people, understand its value for their own future.” “Intangible cultural heritage provides people with an irreplaceable sense of identity and continuity. Social cohesion and sustainable development cannot be achieved without taking serious care of it”, Mr Matsuura concluded.

“We are honoured to partner with UNESCO on this important initiative,” said Mr Takashi Kasuya, Executive Editor of the Asahi Shimbun Company. “In a rapidly changing world, expressions of intangible cultural heritage are often vulnerable. Therefore appropriate measures are in dire need to protect them from vanishing. As a news media, we believe that reporting on intangible cultural heritage and its surrounding socio-cultural environment is one of the major contributions we are able to make,” he stated.

The English translation of the published articles, together with the photographs taken by Asahi in this context, will be made available to UNESCO for the promotion of intangible cultural heritage worldwide.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 104-2008 -  Publication Date: 28-08-2008

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