Reports suggest that this island is one of five sites that the Japanese government seek a UNESCO World Heritage status for in the next UNESCO meeting in Krakow, Poland, scheduled to take place in July.
For now, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has intimated Japan of its decision to endorse Okinoshima Island as a World Heritage Site in the meeting. If the recommendation is passed, the island will become the 21st World Heritage Site from Japan.
The Shinto priests? Isn't there one? of Okinoshima, however, have not reacted excitedly to this news of recognition. Where their primary objective was always to preserve the island from outsiders, the UNESCO status contrarily will only catapult it into global spotlight and hence a major surge of tourists can be anticipated. Takayuki Ashizu, the chief priest, is reported to have quoted that Okinoshima will not be open to common masses even if it attains UNESCO status, because they "don't want people to approach gods without due reflection".
Shockingly, this won't be Japan's first UNESCO World Heritage Site that doesn't allow women to set foot inside. Mount Sanjo in Yoshino-Kumano National Park is also a notorious a men-only site.
It will really not, hence, come as a complete surprise to us if Okinoshima joins the elite UNESCO global list. We are just sad to report that even in the ripe year of 2017, an important topic such as gender equality is merely being debated over and not in actual implementation already. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Okinoshima Island fails to achieve worldwide fame courtesy of UNESCO in July.
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