World Heritage status was conferred on 23 sites considered representative of Japan's industrial revolution under Emperor Meiji, who reigned from 1868 to 1912.
The sites include coal mines, steel factories and shipyards located mainly in south-west Japan.
The bid to have the sites listed touched off a diplomatic row, with South Korea and China saying seven of the sites became centres for deportation and forced labour during the Japanese Occupation. The Japanese delegation said it was prepared to acknowledge that and incorporate measures to remember the victims, such as setting up an information centre. Given the assurance, South Korea said it would not block the Japanese bid.
The sites of the Meiji industrial revolution show the process by which feudal Japan sought the transfer of technology from Europe and the United States. This is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialisation to a non-Western nation.