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Will Mt. Fuji Become A World Heritage At Last?

Osaka – Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recent hot topic in Japan that has been discussed in TV news and other programmes is the fact the Mt. Fuji and City of Kamakura are to be applied to be registered as World Heritage.

City of Kanakura, famous for the largest Buddha statue in Japan (called in Japan “Kanakura Daibutsu”) and a impressive shrine called Tsuruoka Hachimangu, used to be the capital of the Muromachi Government (1336 – 1573), which opened the era governed by samurai; therefore, it is to be applied to be registered for its importance in Japanese history and culture.

Regarding Mt. Fuji, a symbol of Japan that everyone around the globe are familiar with, numerous attempts had been made for the World Heritage registration but in vain so the focus of the discussion in the TV programmes has been about Mt. Fuji.

1. Why previous attempts of Mt. Fuji’s registration as a World Heritage were not accepted?

There had been attempts since 2003. First in 2003 Mt. Fuji’s application was made as World Natural Heritage. However, it was not accepted mainly because of garbage issues attributing to the fact that many climbers leave behind garbage instead of taking them back. After this incident, there were some initiatives of clearing up garbage of Mr. Fuji.

Another attempt was made in 2005, when Mt. Fuji’s application was made as World Cultural Heritage. However, it was not accepted because the lower part of Mt. Fuji has already been developed to quite an extent, with motorways and national roads. Also, at first Mr. Fuji’s beautiful shape of the mountain was an appealing point but then other countries claimed that their mountain(s) are of similar beautiful shape, such as the one in Kilimanjaro.

2. What is the appealing point of Mt. Fuji in making application for World Heritage this time?

Currently their idea is “mountain of religion”. This is because in Japanese literatures from Manyoshu, one of the oldest Japanese literatures in history, to works from Edo era (1600 – 1868), Mt. Fuji is mentioned as a mountain in which people have religions faith.

3. How experts view of the possibility of Mt. Fuji to be registered to be a World Heritage?

They think currently the possibility is 50%. They feel the appealing point and reason for the registration needs to be more focused. The reason for the registration needs to be something that makes Mr. Fuji “the only one” rather that “number 1” of something, with concrete, logical explanation supported by facts.

4. What is the author’s final thoughts?

This is really about marketing; i.e. segmentation, positioning, and targeting followed by branding then creating and delivering message based on the defined USP (unique selling point).

We all now the theory and steps of effective marketing but successfully planning and implementing marketing strategy is difficult, especially when it is of something like Mt. Fuji that has possible multiple options of USP.

How would you market Mt. Fuji so that it will be registered as a World Heritage?

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