Yawata Steel Works

Higashida First Blast Furnace, operational in 1901 with a nominal daily output of 160 tons; now a Municipal Cultural Property[1]

The Yahata Steel Works (八幡製鐵所, Yahata seitetsu-sho) is a steel mill in Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Imperial Steel Works was established in 1896 to meet increasing demand from the nation's burgeoning shipbuilding, railway, construction, and armaments industries.[2] The site chosen was the former town of Yahata, now merged into Kitakyūshū, near coal mines and with easy access to the sea.[2]


With the opening of Japan, Western-style reverberatory furnaces had been introduced in a number of areas to replace the native tatara system.[3] In the early Meiji period, blast furnaces were constructed at sites such as Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, near deposits of iron.[2][3]

The Higashida First Blast Furnace, designed and tooled by German engineering firm Gute Hoffnungshütte, began operations at Yahata on 5 February 1901.[2] The low quality of output, high ratio of coke consumption to steel produced, and a number of failures led to suspension the following year; all but one of the German advisers were dismissed and the defects remedied by their local replacements.[4][5] These included Kageyoshi Noro (野呂景義), "father of Japanese metallurgy".[2][6][7] The state-owned mill was not profitable in its early years and had to rely on subsidies by the government.[8]

By 1912, 80% of Japan's pig iron production was from Yahata.[7] An integrated mill with coke, iron, and steel facilities, Yahata was also responsible at this time for 80-90% of Japan's steel output.[4][9] Energy efficiency was greatly improved by the conversion from steam to electricity as a power source, resulting in a drop in consumption of coal per ton of steel produced from four tons in 1920 to 1.58 in 1933.[4] Much of the iron ore was from China and Korea.[9]

The continuing importance of the Yahata Steel Works to Japan's heavy industry led to Yahata being identified as a target for strategic bombing during the Pacific War, commencing with the Bombing of Yahata in June 1944, by which time the works produced 24% of Japan's rolled steel.[10][11] The works were identified as the target for the second atomic bomb on 9 August 1945; due to cloud cover this was redirected to Nagasaki.[12][13]

After a number of expansions and corporate reorganizations, the steel works are now owned by Nippon Steel (formerly the world's largest steel producer[14]) and are important to the export market as a supplier to the car makers of Kyushu.[15][16] In 2009 the Yahata Steel Works were submitted for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of The Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi, a serial nomination of sites that played an important part in the industrialization of Japan in the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods.[17][18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 東田第一高炉跡 [Higashida First Blast Furnace] (in Japanese). Kitakyushu City. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Finn, Dallas (1995). Meiji Revisited: the Sites of Victorian Japan. Weatherhill. pp. 128–9. ISBN 0-8348-0288-0.
  3. ^ a b Shimizu Norikazu (2010). "The Establishment of the State-Owned Yahata Steel Works (1)" (PDF). Journal of Business Economics. Kyushu International University. 16 (2): 109–145.
  4. ^ a b c Iida Ken'ichi. "The Iron and Steel Industry" (PDF). Japan External Trade Organization. pp. 455 ff. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  5. ^ 1895~1905 (in Japanese). Nippon Steel. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  6. ^ Wittner, David G (2007), Technology and the Culture of Progress in Meiji Japan, Routledge, p. 158, ISBN 978-0-415-43375-4
  7. ^ a b Inkster, Ian (2001). Japanese Industrialisation: Historical and Cultural Perspectives. Routledge. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-415-24444-2.
  8. ^ "Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction | Robert C. Allen | 9780199596652 | Oxford University Press Canada". www.oupcanada.com. p. 124. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b Shimizu Norikazu (2010). "The Establishment of the State-Owned Yahata Steel Works (1)" (PDF). Journal of Business Economics. Kyushu International University. 16 (2): 132–5.
  10. ^ Daniels, Gordon (1982). "Before Hiroshima: The Bombing of Japan 1944-45". History Today. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  11. ^ "B-29s Against Coke Ovens". CIA. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  12. ^ Warner, Dennis (28 August 1948). "Nagasaki: Ugly Duckling". The Advocate. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Kyushu, Gateway to Japan: A Concise History (Review)". The Japan Society. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Steel merger aims for survival". The Japan Times. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  15. ^ "八幡製鉄所 歴史・沿革" [Yahata Steel Works - History]. Nippon Steel. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  16. ^ 八幡製鉄所概要 [Yahata Steel Works - Overview] (in Japanese). Nippon Steel. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  17. ^ "The Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyûshû and Yamaguchi". UNESCO. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  18. ^ "The State-owned Yahata Steel Works". Kyuyama. Retrieved 15 June 2012.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 33°54′10″N 130°49′48″E / 33.90278°N 130.83000°E / 33.90278; 130.83000