TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's Mount Fuji will likely be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites next month after an influential advisory panel to the UN cultural body made a recommendation, officials said Wednesday.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a consultative body to UNESCO, told the Japanese government that the almost perfectly conical Fuji is appropriate for registering as a World Heritage site, the agency for cultural affairs said in a statement.
Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 metres is expected to be formally listed in June when the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO meets in Cambodia, said an official at the foreign ministry.
Following the recommendation, the mayor of Fujinomiya City, Hidetada Sudo expressed hope the expected listing would be a boost to tourism.
"I expect many people will visit us. This is a huge step for our city's development," he said.
In its request for registration, the agency for cultural affairs said Mt. Fuji covers roughly 70,000 hectares in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, including five major lakes and the Shiraito Falls, as well as eight Shinto shrines.
It is being considered as a "cultural" heritage site, rather than a "natural" heritage site.
The mountain "has nurtured Japan's unique art and culture" as it has been depicted in "ukiyoe" woodblock prints and represents the tradition of mountain worship in Japan, the agency said.
Fuji, a volcano that last erupted around 300 years ago, is one of Japan's most instantly recognisable sights. Images of its snow-capped peak adorn tourism literature published at home and abroad.
UNESCO's World Heritage programme is governed by an international treaty intended to "encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity," its mission statement says.
Other World Heritage cultural sites include the Sydney Opera House, the temples at Angkor in Cambodia, The Great Wall of China and the pyramid fields in Egypt.