• Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution
  • Sites of Distorted Facts and Concealed Truth

Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution

Sites of Distorted Facts and Concealed Truth

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On March 14, 2005, Jeong Jong-geun applied to the Fact-finding Committee on Damages from Forced Mobilization under Japanese Occupation for an investigation upon learning that Koreans were included in the cremation permits found at the Nishisonogi District Office in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

The committee made a decision on April 15, 2005 during the 7th Committee to open a fact-finding investigation through analysis of the permits in the belief that the local situation of Korean laborers at the time could be studied and viewed through them.

The Sakito region in Nishisonogi District was developed into a coal town in 1886 upon the discovery of coal beds on the seabed. Mitsubishi Mining's Sakito Coal Mine was one of the foremost areas in which Koreans were mobilized on a large scale. While it has been confirmed that Koreans worked on the site since the early 1910s, the mobilizations on a large scale began after 1939. While the ratio of Koreans in the coal mine varies depending on the material referenced, it has been confirmed that about 1,700 Koreans, accounting for one third of the workers at the pit, were working there in 1943.

The cremation permits were collected in the 1980s for a period in which the investigation of forced mobilization of Koreans to the Sakito region was underway. Among them, the committee investigated and analyzed the Koreans who died as listed in the cremation permit register for Sakito between 1940 and 1945. The entire deceased were listed, and various trends including age, occupation, and cause of death were analyzed to ascertain the details leading up to death.

An analysis of the cremation permits showed the following: ① The high mortality rate among the young aged 16 to 30 is related to work at the Sakito Coal Mine, ② Though those from the southern Gyeongsang-do and Jeolla-do provinces account for 88.6% of the total deaths, this is consistent with the statements by related parties that most Koreans mobilized to Sakito were recruited from the southern Yeongnam and Honam regions, ③ Of the 211 people who died, coal worker was the occupation listed for 114 of them, ④ The largest cause of death was mine accidents which accounted for 14.2%, of which falling accidents were the most common. Unnatural deaths were confirmed in 28 cases, and these are presumed to be deaths from acts of cruelty such as beatings. There are also 143 deaths from accidents and diseases outside of the coal pit, making up 67.8% of the total.

Through the Korean death records, this fact-finding investigation reveals in detail the damages to Koreans mobilized to Mitsubishi Mining's Sakito Mine, which would not have differed from the other coal mines owned by Mitsubishi Mining in Nagasaki Prefecture. The report is introduced here as a fact-finding report to better understand the situation of the Korean workers at the Takashima and Hashima Coal Mines which have become World Heritage Sites.


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