180 Japanese cultural assets deemed missing

180 Japanese cultural assets deemed missing

Three national treasures and 177 important cultural properties are missing, according to the latest investigation by the Cultural Affairs Agency, accounting for about 1.7 per cent of 10,524 such objects.

The agency said it is still looking into the location of 68 assets, including nine designated as national treasures.

These facts came to light in the second investigation into the whereabouts of missing national treasures and important cultural properties.

In 2013, the agency commissioned the prefectural boards of education in all 47 prefectures to launch a probe into the location of all national treasures and important cultural properties, the first investigation of its kind.

In July last year, the agency announced the results, naming 109 unaccounted-for items, including the national treasure "Tanto Mei Kunimitsu" (tanto sword signed Kunimitsu), which was made in the Kamakura period (1192-1333).

In a second probe, the agency tracked 238 cultural assets whose locations could not be confirmed in the prior investigation for such reasons as their having been moved to other prefectures.

Among them, 72 objects, including the national treasures "Katana, Meibutsu Inabago" (masterpiece sword Inabago) created in the Nambokucho period (1336-1392) and "Tachi Mei Yoshihira" (sword signed Yoshihira) from the Kamakura period, were found to be missing.

Meanwhile, one important cultural property that was previously thought to be missing was located because the current owner, who had purchased it, came forward.

As for the reasons for the disappearance of the 180 cultural assets, 69 went missing because the owners changed addresses, while the whereabouts of 40 other items became unknown as a result of the owners' deaths.

Under the Cultural Assets Preservation Law, owners of national treasures or important cultural properties are required to notify relevant authorities of a change of ownership or address. Thirty-three objects are believed to have been stolen.

In terms of asset type, swords topped the list with 86 missing.

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