The Agency for Cultural Affairs plans to have the seabed off Nagasaki Prefecture where the wreck of a ship believed to have been used by 13th century Mongol invaders has been found declared a national historical site, agency sources said.
The declaration would make the area off Takashima Island in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, the first underwater ruins to be registered as such a site in Japan. The designation will in principle prohibit the area from being altered.
The agency sees the need to take immediate measures in the area, given that the relics there are expected to provide archeologists with crucial information on the 1274 and 1281 Mongol attacks that, until the discovery of the relatively intact shipwreck, has mostly been available only from documents and drawings.
The move came after the Matsuura's education board submitted a report to the agency in July calling for the designation of some 384,000 sq. meters in the area, including where the sunken ship was found, as a national historical site.
The board said academic research is still ongoing in the area and that no decision has been made on whether to raise the wreck.
The failure of the two attacks launched by Mongol leader Kublai Khan (1215-1294) against Japan, with battles fought in northern Kyushu, is often attributed here to "kamikaze," or divine winds that destroyed much of the Mongol fleets.