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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 August 21 - 27  > SDF fires at World Heritage site, Mt Fuji
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2013 August 21 - 27 TOP3 [SDF]

SDF fires at World Heritage site, Mt Fuji

August 26, 2013
The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force on August 25 conducted its largest live-fire drill at the foot of Mount Fuji for the first time since the mountain was voted to be on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Japan’s most iconic mountain, Mt. Fuji, in June won the status of the world cultural heritage with approval of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which recognized the mountain’s outstanding religious and artistic significance as having universal value.

In order to receive a World Heritage designation, a site needs to be surrounded by a protective area called a buffer zone in which the establishment of various regulations for the conservation of the heritage is required by UNESCO.

The JGSDF has two training fields at the foot of Mt. Fuji, the Higashi-Fuji (Shizuoka Pref.) and the Kita-Fuji (Yamanashi Pref.) training fields. The land area of these two training ranges totals 13,401 ha.

The Cultural Affairs Agency in preparation for the designation of Mt. Fuji as a World Heritage site intended to designate the two SDF training areas as the buffer zone. As the Defense Ministry objected to the agency’s plan, it actually designated the 13,401 ha area as a “maintenance area” in which the state and local governments voluntarily make efforts to preserve the scenery and environment.

Although local governments impose domestic regulations such as an ordinance for view protection on residential areas designated as a “maintenance area”, the SDF’s areas are exempted from following any regulations by the national government.

The aim of the World Heritage system is to protect World Heritage sites as a common heritage of mankind from damage and destruction and leave them intact to the next generation. The SDF’s military training exercises at Mt. Fuji is unacceptable.
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