85 Japanese cultural assets unaccounted for

JAPAN - At least 85 artworks designated as important cultural properties, including six national treasures, are unaccounted for, according to the Cultural Affairs Agency.

Of the 85 works, which include swords, Buddhist statues and ceramics, 57 were reported as stolen. One of the six national treasures is a statue with a bell attached.

The agency also has failed to confirm the whereabouts of 388 important cultural assets that are privately owned-some of which are among the 85 cases-in a separate survey.

Though the survey was conducted by mail, the individual owners have not identified the locations of the 388 works, the agency said.

There has not been adequate control over such cultural assets by the agency, which has led to artworks being unaccounted for, observers said.

The agency plans to carry out a rapid investigation to locate about 10,000 important cultural assets by the end of the fiscal year, it said.

After it was reported at the end of last month that the cultural assets are unaccounted for, the agency carried out an urgent survey this month and found 28 works went missing after they were inherited or sold without notice to the agency.