Yawata Steel Works
The Yawata Steel Works (八幡製鐵所 Yahata seitetsu-sho?) is a steel mill in Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Construction began in 1896 in order to meet increasing demand from the nation's burgeoning shipbuilding, railway, construction, and armaments industries. The site chosen was the former town of Yahata, now merged into Kitakyūshū, near coal mines and with easy access to the sea.
With the opening of Japan, Western-style reverberatory furnaces had been introduced in a number of areas to replace the native tatara system. In the early Meiji period, blast furnaces were constructed at sites such as Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, near deposits of iron.
The Higashida First Blast Furnace, designed and tooled by German engineering firm Gute Hoffnungshütte, began operations at Yahata on 5 February 1901. 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. These included Noro Kageyoshi (野呂景義?), "father of Japanese metallurgy".
By 1912, 80% of Japan's pig iron production was from Yahata. An integrated mill with coke, iron, and steel facilities, Yahata was also responsible at this time for 80-90% of Japan's steel output. 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. Much of the iron ore was from China and Korea.
The continuing importance of the Yawata Steel Works to Japan's heavy industry led to Yawata 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. 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.
After a number of expansions and corporate reorganizations, the steel works are now owned by Nippon Steel (formerly the world's largest steel producer) and are important to the export market as a supplier to the car makers of Kyushu. 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yahata Works.|
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- (Japanese) Illustrated Timeline of Yawata Steel Works