The tiny Japanese Island of Hashima, is one of several early industrial sites in Japan.
It was hailed as the symbol of Japan’ s technological progress from the mid-19th century.
And in July, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in July.
However, for many Chinese and Korean people who worked here as slave laborers during World War II, it was an “island of hell.”
Hashima was owned by the conglomerate Mitsubishi, one of the prime companies that mobilized forced labor during the colonial period.
From 1944 to 1945, an estimated 800 Koreans and 204 Chinese were forced to work in the island’s coal mine.
According to survivors’ testimony, the coal mine reached a depth of 1,000 meters.
The laborers were forced to work in underground temperatures of over 30 degrees centigrade and a humidity of 95 percent.
Even more horrifying was that various gases including methane accumulated and condensed in the mines.
And Korean and Chinese laborers were often assigned to the most toxic sections.
Under such unbearable circumstance, many laborers were eventually tortured to death.
Today, the dark history of the island is almost completely forgotten by many Japanese.
A tour guide working on the Island said text books of Japan never touched on this part of history.