The Art of War Viii: Ghosts of Hashima

The ghosts of war crimes and the lost age of post war industrialization in Japan linger on the web for anyone to explore.

Hemingway once famously said, “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” The author was plagued and traumatized by the horrors of the Great War, along with millions of other young men and women – an entire global generation. A war that Woodrow Wilson would declare in 1917, would end all wars. A statement many begged fate to be true.

The years after World War I would lead up to a resentment and armament unlike anything the world had ever seen. With several theaters of battle in Europe, North Africa and home to the haunting website on display today – The Pacific. is an interactive website that allows you to travel around the abandoned island of Hashima. The sixteen acre island that lies in North East Asia just nine miles from the center of Nagasaki. It is known for its abandoned city center and concrete buildings but holds secrets far worse.

Beginning in the 1930’s and lasting throughout WWII, the Japanese forced both Chinese prisoners of war along with Korean civilians to mine coal to power their war machine.

Estimated accounts vary but range somewhere between 1300 conscripted laborers and even higher (with some accounting for 722 Chinese and over 1400 Koreans) dying from forced labor and brutal working conditions on the island.

Even after the war, the island reached peak population in 1959 and accounted for the deaths of nearly 1300 Japanese workers as well. The island was finally shut down in 1974 as Japan moved on to Petroleum fuel sources.

The website offers an interactive and solemn tour of not only an abandoned city, but of the animal that warfare can make of any man who falls prey to his own cruel impulses.


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