Saturday, July 9, 2016

Japan 2016 - The World Heritage 9th Series - Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Ship Building and Coal Mining

ISSUE DATE: 8 July 2016
STAMP SIZE:25 x 33.5 mm
STAMP DESIGN: Maruyama Satoru

Hashima Island, commonly called Gunkanjima means Battleship Island. It is an abandoned island lying about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city of Nagasaki, in southern Japan.

The island is very small, measuring just 480 x 160 meters. It was once the most densely populated city in the world – the packed apartment blocks being filled with miners and their families.

It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began extracting coal from undersea mines. In 1916 the company built Japan's first large concrete building (9 storeys tall), a block of apartments to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers. Concrete was specifically used to protect against typhoon destruction.

Mitsubishi Mining Company shut down the business in 1974 due to the rise in use of petroleum. The residents of the island were all forced to return to the mainland and, thinking nobody would ever return, left their many possessions behind to slowly degrade.

Japan's 2009 request to include Hashima Island, among with 22 other industrial sites, to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list was initially opposed by South Korean authorities on the grounds that Korean and Chinese forced laborers were used on the island prior to and during World War II. North Korea also criticized the World Heritage bid because of this same issue.


Additional information and pictures thanks to:

Stamp images thanks to Japan Post

Hongkong Post Stamps