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
Mr. Kazuhiko Suga

――Could you tell us more in details?

The phrase "iron is the nation" originated in the so-called Blood and Iron speech delivered by Minister President Bismarck of Prussia in 1862 to the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives in order to achieve the unification of German territories: "The nation will be redeemed by iron and blood. Repeated discussions in the Diet will produce nothing. Unification will be achieved through blood and iron, in other words, through force of arms.” Although these words may suggest that iron = military might = military = nation, the modernization of a nation, or the establishment of a modern state, is closely intertwined with the advancement of iron manufacturing technology and its products.

At the end of the 18th century, wrought iron (puddled iron) appeared in England. Wrought iron brought about an epoch-making event in machine building, construction, and civil engineering, and was the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution. Thus, from the end of the 18th century through the majority of the 19th century, Great Britain prospered as a great empire.

In the late 19th century, the converter process and open-hearth process were developed, ushering in the era of molten steel. Molten steel enabled the mass production of homogeneous steel. The converter process was invented by an Englishman named Bessemer in 1856. At that time, converters were suitable for the manufacture of railway rails, and moreover, the United States had abundant iron ore suitable for producing molten steel in Bessemer converter. During this period of western exploration, the Bessemer converters provided the large quantity of rails needed for the construction of the transcontinental railway, eventually eliminating the frontier and contributing greatly to the creation of national unity in the vast United States.

In 1877, an Englishman named S.G. Thomas (SIdney Gilchrist Thomas) succeeded in manufacturing a basic converter and open-hearth Furnace. This made it possible to remove phosphorous from the steelmaking process and to produce molten steel in large quantities using the abundant iron ore (Minette ore) from Belgium, Luxembourg and the Franco-German border region (the Ruhr area and the Saarland). Germany quickly caught up with Britain in terms of molten steel production and gained the upper hand. Steel products made from molten steel had better mechanical properties and durability than that made from wrought iron, and the iron and steel consumption per km of railway construction was halved. The improvement of logistics, as represented by the railway network, above all gave the country a sense of unity and increased the size of the market, leading to a spiral expansion of the national economy. In Europe, it was the emerging Germany and Belgium that enjoyed this effect. The advent of the basic converter and open-hearth furnace may have been an improvement-level event in terms of technology, but it is no exaggeration to say that it was a textbook case of innovation as defined by Schumpeter in the sense that it changed the balance of power in the European world. As a result of the development of basic converter and open hearth, which made it possible to remove phosphorous, wrought iron was limited to chains, rivets and other materials and forced off the stage.

 Iron and steel making required coal, railway and ship transport required steel for its production and infrastructure, transport consumed large quantities of coal, and coal mining required both steel and the development of a transport network of ships and railways. These industrial linkages were complementary, and the creation of such complementary relationships was a condition for the realization of national modernization.

――Was that so? So, the modernization of a nation cannot be separated from the progress of iron and steel making, logistics such as railways and ships, and coal mining.

I believe that the phrase "iron is the nation" has a different meaning in Japan, a country far removed from the West, where iron and steel production has advanced.

In Japan, the Imperial Kamaishi Steel Works aimed to produce wrought iron and its products, while the Imperial Yawata Steel Works aimed to produce molten steel and steel products, which are steel products. In Western countries, the accumulation of iron and steel manufacturing operations made it possible to break down the three steps required to produce steel products—iron making, steel making and rolling—and commercialize each process separately, whereas in Japan, an underdeveloped country, it was impossible to produce pig iron using blast furnaces, molten steel using converters and open-hearth furnaces, and various rolling mills to manufacture steel products for different uses unless they were set up all at once to achieve the final goal of steel production. This required huge amounts of money, training of human resources and risk-taking, making it impossible to commercialize at the private level.

In addition, the initial policy was to procure all iron ore domestically, but as a result, the Daye iron ore from Hubei Province in China was chosen as the main ore. Negotiations with the Hubei provincial government, the provision of funds for mining the ore, and preventing the use of Western capital for Chinese iron ore required the full backing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, so not only did we have to build the steelworks, but we also had to utilize government functions for its operation. To give some specific details, the Imperial Yawata Steel Works initially planned to use iron ore from Akadani Mine in Niigata Prefecture and Kamaishi Mine in Iwate Prefecture as raw materials, but the Chinese side proposed to sell ore from the Daye Iron Mine on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River near Wuhan in exchange for Japanese coal. The proposal was sensitively responded to by Masunosuke Odagiri, the Shanghai consul who was said to be Jutaro Komura’s right-hand man. Just at that time, a German mining engineer wrote in a German journal: "There is a large amount of iron ore in Daye, China. We ought to use this iron ore to build a steel mill with German capital. In order to seize the Oriental market, it would be good to invest money in China now and build a steel mill in Shanghai or thereabouts." When Japan learnt of this, it decided to secure iron ore from Daye, as such a move would blow up the project of the Imperial Steel Works that it was now trying to build. Thanks to the quick work of Consul Odagiri, a contract for the purchase of Daye iron ore was concluded in 1899. The contract included the very important clause that the Qing would not sell Daye ore to foreign-capitalized steel mills within Qing China.

――So, the iron and steel industry had to have state involved in order for it to work?

Yes. The Imperial Yawata Steel Works belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. There has been a lot of historical research on the relationship with other state institutions, such as the division of labour with the naval arsenal, but as far as I know, there has not been much in-depth research on the relationship between other ministries and the Imperial Yawata Steel Works. The Ministry of the Navy, the Ministry of War, the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Education were big consumers, and they had the full backing of the Ministry of Finance in terms of funding, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others in terms of procuring raw materials from overseas and understanding the steel situation. However, I do not think there are explicit studies on the details.

――Although, it seems that people today could learn from history.

For example, the CO2 problem. As is well known, the steel industry is said to be in danger because of the CO2 problem. The other day, there was an article in the newspaper about Nippon Steel Corporation introducing technological reforms to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 and aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050.

The ironmaking method prior to the blast furnace process reduced iron ore in solid form, which emitted carbon dioxide, but in principle the scale of emissions was quite small. The principles of this ancient ironmaking process are still used in small-scale ironmaking today as the direct reduction process, and attention is now being paid to the possibility of its advancement. In fact, if one traces the history of iron and steel making methods, one will find that it is a history that involved many trials and errors.

In a way, there is a sense of bodies lay in heaps (it is a Japanese metaphor implying a project went wrong and caused damage to many people involved), but I have some hope that some things will come out of there and return to life. Moreover, although it may sound like howling wolves (also a Japanese metaphor for cowards making empty threats and blaming others behind their backs) , I believe that there should also be discussions on CO2 reduction from the perspectives of 'the history of the universe and the birth of the siderophile element,' 'life forms on Earth and iron,' and 'iron as a magnetic substance and modern civilization.'

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

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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
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Kagoshima Prefecture

Mr. Satoshi Mitazono
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World Heritage Consultant

Ms. Sarah Jane Brazil
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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!

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

Mr. Hiroshi Yasuda
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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

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Mr. Alastair Rawlinson
Japan's Uplifting Industrial Heritage

Head of Industrial Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Miles Oglethorpe
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Ms.Toshiko Ono
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Sir Neil Cossons
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Dean of Tokyo Rissho Junior College

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Dr. Kudo Norikazu
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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
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Director and Managing Executive Officer, Hanshin Expressway Company Limited

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

Vice-Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture

Mr. Takashi Namba
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Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Koji Nomura
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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

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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