300 letters from Japanese wartime suicide pilots could be part of UNESCO list

7 years ago by in Japan

Japan is trying to put more than 300 letters written by its second-world-war kamikaze pilots on the UNESCO world heritage list. The move has already been condemned by its Asian neighbors.

The authorities of Minamikyushu, the Japanese city where these suicide pilots were trained and based, sent the letters to the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, hoping they will be added on the list together with the Gutenberg Bible and the diaries of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

Minamikyushu officials have translated into English 330 letters written by the aviators before they were sent on suicide missions on Allied warships or other targets, according to the international press.

The suicide notes were previously kept at the city’s Chiran Peace Museum, among 14,000 other letters and poems written by the pilots.

China reacted promptly: “At such a speed, you [Japan] are going to enlist the Yasukuni Shrine as a world heritage [site]. Could you be more shameless?” the state outlet China News Services wrote.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to preserve international valuable archives and documents. The current list of 300 registered items include Vasco da Gama’s journals on his first expedition to India, golden lists of the Qing dynasty imperial examination and the Phoenician alphabet.