The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Cultural Affairs Agency plans to establish a system for investigating missing cultural assets that are designated as national treasures or important cultural assets because some of them have been stolen or their locations are unknown after their owners changed address.
The agency hopes to establish a panel of experts in fiscal 2018 to examine effective methods for conducting investigations.
Once a year, the government decides on artworks to register as either national treasures or important cultural assets. There were 10,654 assets registered through the process as of April 1. However, the locations of some of the assets are unknown, partly because regular investigations have not been carried out on them after registration.
The agency conducted its first fact-finding survey on the assets from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2016. It revealed that the locations of 164 registered assets were unknown, including two national treasures — Tanto Mei Kunimitsu (short sword signed Kunimitsu) and Tachi Mei Yoshihira (sword signed Yoshihira).
The locations of some of the assets became unclear because relevant authorities had not been notified of changes such as the owners’ address or ownership change due to death. The survey also revealed 30 cases in which assets had been stolen for the purpose of illegally selling them.
In August, police investigators found a stolen Buddhist statue in Osaka Prefecture after receiving a tip concerning its sale.
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