November 6, 2020
The 27th Yomiuri International Cooperation Awards sponsored by Yomiuri Shimbun will be presented to a team of experts at the Grand Egyptian Museum Joint Conservation Project being carried out by JICA in Egypt, as announced in the Yomiuri Shimbun on Nov. 2. This is the first time that a team of experts from a JICA’s project received this award.
The Yomiuri International Cooperation Award was established in 1994 as an award to recognize individuals, organizations, or companies active in the field of international cooperation. In the past, it has been awarded to a variety of socially active contributors in various fields, including Ms. OGATA Sadako (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then), who was the first winner.
The JICA project, in which the award-winning expert team participates, aims to develop the capacity of the staff at the Grand Egyptian Museum Conservation Center, which is responsible for the conservation and restoration of artifacts in Egypt. Prior to the start of this project, JICA initiated loan assistance in 2006 for the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum based on a request from the Egyptian government. Along with the construction of the museum, which is planned to be the world’s largest museum exhibiting artifacts from a single civilization, the Egyptian government newly established the Grand Egyptian Museum Conservation Center adjacent to the museum, which is where this project is being run.
The project started in 2008 and activities have been developed in three phases. The cooperation started by developing a database of artifacts, and as the next step, the team transferred restoration techniques to Egyptian experts using replicas of artifacts. In the current phase, which has been implemented since 2016, 72 items including genuine artifacts of Tutankhamen are being restored, and experts also support transfer of artifacts from various places to the center. The artifacts restored through this project will be exhibited at the Grand Egyptian Museum once it is open.
Upon selecting the recipient, Mr. SATO Yukio, the chairman of the selection committee, assessed the project activities saying, "It is a characteristic of Japan's international cooperation to make generous transfers of technology and devote themselves to skills development. This has led to trust from their Egyptian partners and they decided to assign the restoration work of valuable cultural properties to the Japanese team. I was also impressed that the experts who were dispatched contributed to the protection of cultural heritage by demonstrating the restoration technology developed working with Japanese materials such as wood, dyed and woven products, and mural paintings." (excerpt from commentary by SATO Yukio, chairman of the selection committee, published in the Yomiuri Shimbun on Nov. 2)
Opportunities to shed light on the importance of cultural heritage in the field of international cooperation are still limited. This award has highlighted the history of this cooperation, which was realized by Japanese experts from a wide range of fields related to cultural properties. It has also shown the strong trust shared between the Japanese and Egyptian partners through long-term collaboration, and the outcome of effective conservation of the country's valuable cultural heritage. JICA will continue to cooperate in connecting the technologies and skills of Japan with the world, and to preserve important cultural heritage for future generations.