Hashima – a Ghost Island in Japan by Jordy Meow
May 06, 2012
“Hashima Island (or correctly Hashima, as -shima is Japanese for island), commonly called Gunkanjima or Gunkanshima (meaning Battleship Island), is one among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture, about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself.
The island was populated from 1887 to 1974. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was retrieving coal from undersea mines. According to a South Korean commission, the island housed 500 Koreans who were forced to work between 1939 and 1945, during World War II.
In 1959, the 15-acre island’s population reached its peak of 5,259, with a population density of 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km2, 216,264 people per square mile) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district. As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima’s mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it is called Ghost Island.”