Miike coal mine

Miike coal mine (三池炭鉱 Miike Tankō), also known as the Mitsui Miike Coal Mine (三井三池炭鉱 Mitsui Miike Tankō), was the largest coal mine in Japan,[1] located in the area of Ōmuta, Fukuoka and Arao, Kumamoto, Japan.


Mining began in the region during the Kyoho era, with the Miike mine under the control of the Tachibana clan.[2]

The mine was nationalised in 1872[3] by the Meiji government.[4] The Mitsui zaibatsu took control in 1899.[5]

The mine closed in 1997,[6] with devastating effects on the local economy.[1]

Labour dispute

From 1960 to 1962 the mine was involved in a much-reported labor dispute which divided the workers and involved violent strike-breaking actions.


In 1963 an explosion resulted in the deaths of 458 people, 438 of whom died from carbon monoxide poisoning.[3][7] On January 18th, 1984, an explosion at the mine claimed the lives of 83 workers.


The Miike mine was the subject of a Japanese documentary, Echoes from the Miike Mine (2006), directed by Hiroko Kumagai.[8]


  1. 1 2 Karan, P.P. & Stapleton, K.E. (1997) The Japanese city p.181 University Press of Kentucky ISBN 0-8131-2035-7 Retrieved January 2012.
  2. Norman, E.H. & Woods, L.T. (2000) Japan's emergence as a modern state: political and economic problems of the Meiji period p.59. UBC Press ISBN 0-7748-0822-5 Retrieved January 2012.
  3. 1 2 Industrial pollution in Japan Chapter - 5 The Miike coal-mine explosion
  4. Norman & Woods, (2000) p.121.
  5. Karan, P.P. & Stapleton, K.E. (1997) The Japanese city p.9. University Press of Kentucky ISBN 0-8131-2035-7 Retrieved January 2012.
  6. Workers get the shaft in Mitsui coal mine closure Asahi Shimbun, 18 February 1997
  7. Kawabata, Tai, "Film mines rich seams of history", Japan Times, 14 August 2011, p. 8.
  8. Tomoda, Yoshiyuki (November 2010). "Nihon no tankō eigashi to Miike" (PDF). Gengo bunka kenkyū (in Japanese). 22 (2): 21–37.

External links

Coordinates: 33°00′50″N 130°27′22″E / 33.014°N 130.456°E / 33.014; 130.456

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