Vol. 43

An Imperial Company named the Yawata Steel Works became a World Heritage Site from a Single Old Photo!

Mr. Masayoshi Minakuchi

The Former Employee of Nippon Steel Corporation

Mr. Masayoshi Minakuchi

April 1974: Graduated from the Department of Industrial Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, Yamaguchi University. Later on, joined the old Nippon Steel Corporation (currently known as Nippon Steel Corporation), where he was assigned to the Thermal Engineering Section of the Equipment Department in Yawata Steel Works.

July 1983: Assigned as the Section Manager of the Thermal Engineering Section

July 1990: Assigned as the Deputy General Manager of the Process Engineering Office of the Equipment Department

April 1996: Assigned as the Deputy General Manager of the Development Planning Office of the General Affairs Department

August 2005: Assigned as an assistant to the section manager of the Development Planning Office of the General Affairs Department

August 2010: Retired from Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Co., Ltd.

March 2015: Joined Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Business Service Yawata Works Corporation (currently known as Nippon Steel Business Service Kyushu Works Co., Ltd.) after working as a temporary employee of the company

July 2020: Also retired from the aforementioned company

 One old photo became the "trump card" for this site to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site. The photo was of the Onga River Pumping Station at the steel mill (commonly known as a government-owned company named Imperial Steel Works), taken in 1910. The person who found it was named Mr. Masayoshi Minakuchi, who was in charge of old historical documents at the Development Planning Office of the General Affairs Department in Yawata Steel Works of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Co., Ltd. (then known as the Yahata District of the Kyushu Steel Works of Nippon Steel Corporation). Koko Kato, who is Director of the Industrial Heritage Information Center and Executive Director of the National Congress of Industrial Heritage (NCIH), recalls, "If it were not for the quick thinking of Mr. Minakuchi, the steel mill might not have been added to the list of component parts. At the Industrial Heritage Information Center in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Mr. Minakuchi and Ms. Kato, the director of the center, met again after a long absence and discussed episodes from those days and issues that the "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution" might come to face in the future.

How to Make a “Steel Mill without a Blast Furnace” a World Heritage Site?

Kato  When I look back on the efforts to inscribe the "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution" as a World Heritage Site, I think that without Mr. Minakuchi, the steel mill would not have been included in the list of component parts. Initially, we were thinking that we could inscribe the site of Higashida No. 1 Blast Furnace and the former main office as part of the historical heritage of Yawata. Nonetheless, it does not seem to be going so well, as we hoped...

Minakuchi  In the beginning, we had four candidates for the component parts: the site of Higashida No. 1 Blast Furnace (the Higashida No. 1 Commemorative Blast Furnace), the former main office, the former forge, and the Nishida Quay. However, overseas experts told me that it would be "difficult to inscribe" the site of No. 1 Blast Furnace due to the fact that there were almost no items left from its founding period, and hence, it was "not very authentic." We thought to ourselves, "If we do not include the blast furnace, the other heritage sites alone will be too weak." Everyone involved was in a state of confusion, wondering what to do.

Kato It was, in fact, Mr. Minakuchi himself who saved the day.

Minakuchi Sometime after the site of Higashida No. 1 Blast Furnace was abandoned, Ms. Kato contacted me and said, "I am going to Chikuho with some overseas professors on a tour for inspection, but we have some time to spare and would like to stop by." Therefore, I asked if she would like to take a look at the Onga River Pumping Station on the way to Chikuho, and so I guided her there.

 To tell you the truth, I myself did not know much about the Onga River Pumping Station. Shortly before that, I heard from someone that there was an old pumping station made of bricks along the Onga River, and on Sunday, my wife and I drove there to look for it. It took us until late in the evening to finally find it, and we waded through the thick grass and took many photos from outside the fence. I actually do not remember any of this, and this is, in fact, just a memory my wife told me (laughs).

 So, I thought to myself "why not then," and suggested to Ms. Kato that she visit the site. When I did, Dr. Steuart Smith and other overseas experts praised our work, and we were able to revive our business.

Kato To reiterate what was going on at that time, the original concept of the "Group of Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi Region" was to include these four sites as candidates for the component parts. In particular, the site of Higashida No. 1 Blast Furnace was donated to the City of Kitakyushu by Yawata Steel Works, thanks to the enthusiastic campaign for its preservation by the local citizens of Kitakyushu City, and furthermore, the surrounding area has been developed into a park as a symbol of the birthplace of the first steel and iron-producing continuous plant in Japan. Hence, we really wanted to include it in the list of component parts, but according to the standard set by UNESCO, monuments that have been modified later cannot be registered due to the fact that they cannot be "proven to be true."

 So, what do we do? The old main office has been preserved as it was in the past, but this alone does not make it a heritage site of the steelworks, does it? If we do not do something about it, the whole of Yawata will end up being excluded from the list of candidates. If that happens, we would not be able to tell the "story of iron" to the people. When I was in a desperate situation, Mr. Minakuchi produced an old photo of the pumping station at the source of the Onga River. Hence, I hurriedly went to the site to inspect it and decided that this could actually work. This was around 2012. Therefore, you are the person behind the scenes who helped make this World Heritage Site come to a reality. 

Minakuchi  That was just a coincidence, but I think the most important factor in getting the "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution" inscribed on the list was the combined wisdom of three parties: the local government and private companies that own the component parts, the cabinet, and the experts from Japan and abroad—who worked together to create new rules for preserving industrial heritage in operation.

Kato That is right. If we can achieve regulatory reform, we can protect the values of World Heritage Sites under laws other than the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, such as the Landscape Act and the Port and Harbor Act. Thanks to the efforts of many people involved, we were able to open up such a new path. In particular, the unprecedented challenge of adding an active heritage site owned by a private company would not have been possible without the understanding and power of Nippon Steel Corporation.

Minakuchi  If the Operational Heritage were subject to the conventional restrictions of the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties, I do not think Nippon Steel Corporation would have been able to give the go sign. Internally speaking, the biggest challenge was how to explain the project to the top corporate executives and how to gain their understanding in the end. In this respect, I think my boss at the time, Mr. Kenji Amioka (the General Manager of General Affairs Department's Development Planning Office in Yawata Steel Works of Nippon Steel Corporation at the time), played a major role. Mr. Amioka, with his understanding of World Heritage Sites and his leadership, lobbied enthusiastically both inside and outside the company, which led to the wise decision to inscribe the facility--which is still in operation today--a World Heritage Site. I was just doing my job as a mere businessman under Mr. Amioka.

Living now for the future of Japan: The mission of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to raise awareness and courage that "Japan can be saved if we make use of the spirit of our predecessors."

Former General Manager, Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Dr. Kunifumi Hashimoto
Japan's Meiji Industrial Heritage is the Pride of Japan - Knowing the Steps of Our Predecessors is the Key to Reconsidering Japanese Education

Chairman, Fujisankei Group

Executive Managing Advisor, Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Executive Managing Advisor, Fuji Media Holdings, Inc.

Mr, Hisashi Hieda
The Road to World Heritage Registration was Full of its Ups and Downs ~Blessed, Saved and Paved by the Luck of Human Fate~

Advisor, Federation of Japan Port and Airport Construction Association

(Ex. Chairman of Specialists Center of Port and Airport Engineering)

Mr. Hiroshi Hayashida
The historical flow of change from "Samurai to the Company" is the pride of Japan - Nagasaki, the center of Japan's Meiji Industrial Heritage Sites, will lead the way to connect to the next generation.

Mayor of Nagasaki City

Mr. Shiro Suzuki
The Saga Clan Built Japan's First Reverberatory Furnace, and the "Mietsu Naval Station" was the Base of the Western-style Navy: Passing on the Passion That Went Into Registering the Site as a World Heritage Site to the Next Generation

Former Director of the Sano Tsunetami Memorial Museum (currently known as Sano Tsunetami and the Mietsu Naval Dock History Museum)

Mr. Yoshimi Eguchi
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a "World Cultural Heritage" and a "World Evolutionary Heritage

Director of NPO Association for Thinking about Satoyama

Director of National Congress of the Industrial Heritage

Mr. Kenji Amioka
Shoin Shrine has a mission to convey the history leading up to the Meiji Restoration properly

Honorary Chief Priest Toshinari Ueda

Mr. Toshinari Ueda
What is the secret plan to make the Port of Miike, an operational asset of a World Heritage site?

Former Mayor of Omuta City

Mr. Michio Koga
Vol. 49
Why Conservation Management of Japan's Meiji Industrial Sites is needed?

Archaeologist and Heritage Conservation Specialist

Dr. Michael Pearson AO
The Truth of Industrial History Unraveled from the Perspective of Metallurgy: the Mission of the Heritage of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to Pass on the Intelligence, Diligence, and Fortitude of the Japanese People to Future Generations

A fellow of the Japan Federation of Engineering Societies

Professor Tadahiro Inazumi
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a Great Teaching Aid, and Various World Revealed by Looking Into It

Team Member of the Industrial Project Team Office for the Promotion of World Heritage Listing under Cabinet Secretariat

Mr. Kazuhiko Suga
The History of Iron that Began in Kagoshima has Dramatically Advanced Japan's Modernization~I Want to Pass on the Vitality of the People of Satsuma to the Younger Generations Whom Will Live in the Future~

Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture

Koichi Shiota
Yoshida Shoin preached the Theory of Engineering Education and produced the Choshu Five who risked their lives to go to England--to pass on the proud Hagi spirit to future generations

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Fumio Tanaka
I wish to pass on to my children's generation the wisdom, technology, and energy of our ancestors who built Misumi West Port - I will do my very best to do what I can at this moment by looking ahead to the future that will surely come after COVID-19.

Mayor of Uki City, Kumamoto Prefecture

Mr. Kenshi Morita
Vol. 43
An Imperial Company named the Yawata Steel Works became a World Heritage Site from a Single Old Photo!

The Former Employee of Nippon Steel Corporation

Mr. Masayoshi Minakuchi
We would like to Establish a "New Local Studies" that will be transmitted to the Outside World.

An Associate Professor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in Iwate University

Mr. Hideki Onodera
18 Years History of a Tourist Guide Business and an Outpouring of "Love for Misumi West Port." ~"Registration for World Heritage is Not Simply a Goal, but a New Starting Point."~

Chairman of the Tourist Guide Association of Misumi West Port

Mr. Manpo Saito
To Mark the Passage of "Time" Together with Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace ~To increase the attractiveness of "reverberatory furnace tourism" through the use of commercial museum and restaurant business~

President of Kuraya Narusawa Co., Ltd.

Chairman of Izunokuni City Tourism Association

Mr. Hironori Inamura
The Establishment of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum Were Led by Fate: I want to start, continue, and finish what I can do to convey the value of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution to a wide audience

Director and General Manager of Gunkanjima Concierge

Producer of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum

Ms. Yuko Kuon
In Industrial Heritage, It's the "People" Who Play the Central Role: How World Heritage Inscription Casts a Fresh Light on Hometown Splendors

Owner at Tōge Chaya

Ms. Shizuko Ogasawara
Everything is for the Economic Development of Nagasaki--Expanding Beyond the Shipping Business to Pass on Nagasaki's Culture and Industrial Heritage

Chairman: Mr. Hidenori Date
President: Mr. Masahiro Date

Yamasa Kaiun Co., Ltd.
Kamaishi's "Miracles" and Overcoming Disaster: The Huge Opportunity Provided by World Heritage Site Inscription

Proprietor, Houraikan Inn

Ms. Akiko Iwasaki
"850 years of historical records" along with Nirayama reverberatory furnace that ought to be passed down to future generations. ~The long-awaited new storage warehouse is completed and it has encouraged preservation, restoration, and utilization~

Representative Director of Egawa Bunko non-profit incorporated foundation

The 42nd head of the Egawa Family

Mr. Hiroshi Egawa
The History of an Era Opened by an Indomitable Pioneering Spirit and the Power of Our Forefathers

Democratic Party for the People (DPP) Representative for Nagasaki Prefecture

Mr. Yoshiaki Takaki
Gunkanjima Is a Warning Message for the Future of Earth and Humanity ~The Thoughts and Pleas of a Guide and Former Resident~

President of the NPO, Way to World Heritage Gunkanjima

Mr. Dotoku Sakamoto
Synchronicity Yields the Miracle of World Heritage Site Inscription: Strong Aspirations Inspire Support among Like-Minded Individuals

Representative Director

MI Consulting Group

Mr. Fumio Ohue
Power to the People of Japan The Mission of Meiji Japan's Industrial Revolutionary Heritage

President of Watanabe Production Group and Honorary Chair of Watanabe Productions Co., Ltd.

Ms. Misa Watanabe
Turning Our Industrial Heritage into Hope for Those 100 Years From Now

Member of the House of Councillors

Mr.Tatsuo Hirano
Calling on 21st Century Satsuma Students to Build the Future! Shuseikan Serves as a Source of Information about Sightseeing in Kagoshima

Kagoshima Prefecture

Mr. Satoshi Mitazono
Awareness of "Stories with Connections" is steadily spreading throughout each region~There are also challenges for conservation management and interpretation~

World Heritage Consultant

Ms. Sarah Jane Brazil
Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way: Connecting with People Takes Courage and Initiative

Director and Dean, The Kyushu-Asia Institute of Leadership
Representative Director, SUMIDA, Inc.

Mr. Koichi Hashida
Taking Pride in Japan's Latest World Heritage Sites~A Journalist's Perspective~

Journalist, founder of the Shimomura Mitsuko Ikikata Juku School

Ms. Mitsuko Shimomura
Classic Cars and the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution~Rally Nippon 2019 in Kyushu~

Representative, Rally Nippon

Mr.Yusuke Kobayashi
Preparations Proceed for the Development of Exciting Touring Routes to See the World Heritage Sites - The Promotion Council Conveys their Attractions to the World through Various Promotions!

Chairman, Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution World Heritage Route Promotion Council Director, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Susumu Ishihara
Giving Greater Force to the Preparation of Routes toward Promoting "Heritage Tourism" - Recollections of the Unforgettable Bombing of Hometown Kure City and the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

Representative Director, General Incorporated Foundation National Congress of Industrial Heritage (Advisor, Public Interest Incorporated Foundation Capital Markets Research Institute)

Mr. Hiroshi Yasuda
The City Connected to the World: Making the "Treasure of Nagasaki" the "Treasure of the World"

Mayor of Nagasaki City

Mr.Tomihisa Taue
"The World's Experimental Facility" that Questions of the True Value of the "ICOMOS-TICCIH Cooperative Principles" New Conservation Challenges Promoted by the Japanese Government

Policy Director at Heritage Montreal

Mr. Dinu Bumbaru
Days of Heated Argument with the Unforgettable Stuart Smith~A Cross-Cultural Encounter with Familiar 19th-Century Industrial Heritage~

World Heritage Consultant

Mr. Barry Gamble
The next generation of technological innovation is born from carrying forward history and culture. - Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution open the way to "conserving while using"

Executive Director of Kogakuin University

Dr.Osamu Goto
Blazing a New Trail for Serial Inscription-Format Conservation and Management with the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Training Personnel to Pass on Memory and Understanding as a Major Challenge in the Future

Heritage Architect and International Consultant

Mr. Duncan Marshall
3D Digital Documentation of the Giant Cantilever Crane and Kosuge Dock

Head of Data Acquisition at The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation

Mr. Alastair Rawlinson
Japan's Uplifting Industrial Heritage

Head of Industrial Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Miles Oglethorpe
The Scottish Ten Project

Scottish Ten Project Manager, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Lyn Wilson
The Tea Plantation Hill Where You Can See Two World Heritage Sites at Once, Mt. Fuji and the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces--The Next Dream Is a "Mini Reverberatory Furnace for Children" to Provide Experiential Learning

Mayor of Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture

Ms.Toshiko Ono
Path to becoming a World Heritage Site

Pro-Provost and Chairman of Council of the Royal College of Art. Heritage advisor of Canal & River Trust for England and Wales.

Sir Neil Cossons
In the midst of accurate information dissemination, it created a chance to truly look at history

Dean of Tokyo Rissho Junior College

Professor emeritus of Keio University

Dr. Kudo Norikazu
World Heritage Inscription Spurs Renewed Civic Pride in Kitakyushu's Industrial Heritage

Mayor of Kitakyushu City

Mr. Kenji Kitahashi
World Heritage Inscription: Report on the 2015 Celebratory Party Held in Bonn, Germany

At the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee convened in Bonn, Germany, from June 28 to July 8, 2015, the decision was approved to inscribe the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution on the World Heritage list.

At a celebratory party held to mark the occasion, some of the primary promoters of the project spoke of their joy in achieving their goal and of the trials and tribulations to getting there.

Background of World Heritage Inscription
Conserve and Use: Pioneering New Approaches for Operational Heritage Assets

Director and Managing Executive Officer, Hanshin Expressway Company Limited

Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Hiroshi Okamoto
Applying Port and Harbor Act Provisions to Conserve Operating World Heritage Sites

Vice-Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture

Mr. Takashi Namba
The Choshu Five: Pioneers of Modernization and Hagi's Heritage of Trial and Error

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Koji Nomura
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: The Roots of Japanese Craftsmanship and Industry

Chairman, Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.

Mr.Masafumi Yasutomi
The Miike Area: How Coal Contributed to Japan's Modern Industrialization

Mayor of Omuta City

Mr.Michio Koga
The Meiji Industrial Revolution: A Story of Broad Vision and a Strong Sense of Mission to Undertake New Challenges for the Good of the Nation and its People

Deputy Director-General, Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, MEXT

Former Counsellor, Cabinet Secretariat

Mr. Kengo Iwamoto
From Kamaishi to Yawata: The Proud Heritage of Japan's Modern Iron Industry

Mayor of Kamaishi City

Mr.Takenori Noda
Lord Nariakira Shimadzu's Shuseikan and the Efforts to Build a Strong and Affluent Nation

Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage Counselor, Shimadzu Limited

Mr.Kimiyasu Shimadzu
The Genesis of Japan's Rise as an Industrial Nation: Preserving the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution for Future Generations

Chairman of the Consortium for the World Heritage Inscription of Modern Industrial Heritage (Kyushu-Yamaguchi) and governor of Kagoshima Prefecture (as of 2015)

Mr.Yuichiro Ito