Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday visited the Tomioka Silk Mill, a newly added UNESCO World Heritage site, to help promote the historic Gunma Prefecture factory building to foreign tourists.
Abe inspected the restoration efforts of the architecture, which includes timber-frame brick masonry buildings for cocoon warehouses and a silk-reeling plant built in 1872 some 100 kilometers northwest of Tokyo.
The silk complex was originally a government-run factory built to serve as a model for other mills in Japan, which came to play a leading role in the global silk industry during its period of industrialization.
The prime minister also tried silk reeling at the site with a historic machine using the production method of some 140 years ago.
"The registration as a UNESCO World Heritage site stems from all of your efforts," Abe told local volunteers tasked with guiding tourists and cleaning the site. "I hope many tourists will visit here from overseas."
The mill was designated in June as Japan's 18th UNESCO World Heritage site, and the first among modern industrial properties, by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.