Yawata Iron and Steel Company, Yawata, Kyushu, c. 1940.

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Yawata Iron and Steel Company, Yawata, Kyushu, c. 1940. Back-caption: “Yawata Iron and Steel Company at Yawata, the largest of its kind in the Orient, is the prize of industrial Kyushu.”

See also:
Tokyo Higher Industrial School, 1905.
Machine Shop, Tokyo Industrial Arts School, Tokyo, c. 1910.

“The Imperial Steel Works was established in 1896 to meet increasing demand from the nation’s burgeoning shipbuilding, railway, construction, and armaments industries. The site chosen was the former town of Yawata (now merged into Kitakyūshū) near coal mines and with easy access to the sea.

“The Higashida First Blast Furnace, designed and tooled by German engineering firm Gute Hoffnungshütte, began operations at Yawata on 5 February 1901 … By 1912, 80% of Japan’s pig iron production was from Yawata. An integrated mill with coke, iron, and steel facilities, Yawata was also responsible at this time for 80-90% of Japan’s steel output.

“In 1934, Imperial Steel Works was merged into Nippon Steel, a joint-venture zaibatsu of five government-owned and privately-owned steel manufacturers, and became Yawata Steel Works. It was responsible for more than half of Japan’s steel production volume, and produced a wide variety of steel materials including steel plates, steel bars, and special weapons steel.

“The continuing importance of the Yawata Steel Works to Japan’s weapons industry led to Yawata being identified as a target for strategic bombing during the Pacific War, commencing with the bombing of Yawata in June 1944 (the first B-29 raid on Japan) by which time the works produced 24% of Japan’s rolled steel. The works were identified as the target for the second atomic bomb on 9 August 1945; due to cloud cover the target was redirected to Nagasaki.

“After the war, the Nippon Steel zaibatsu was purged, its five steelmaking components denationalized. One returned to business as Yawata Iron & Steel.

“In 2014, the Yawata Steel Works joined the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution, a serial nomination of sites that played an important part in the industrialization of Japan in the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods.”


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