Historic factory in Fukuoka to be demolished

Demolition will start on a historic factory in Fukuoka this month. A farewell event for 200 former factory workers and neighbors was held on August 28, with the building illuminated.

The Mitsui Chemicals Omuta Factory ‘J Factory’ building was built in 1938. The 7-story reinforced building has a total floor area of 22,300 sqm (240,000 sq.ft). With a height of 47 meters, it was a landmark of Omuta City and a symbol of its industrial prosperity. It was considered one of the greatest buildings in the East.

The factory was in operation up until 2008 and was used to manufacture coal tar dyes. It was recognized as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) in 2007. A building inspection in 2016 determined that the structure did not meet earthquake codes, and the decision was made to demolish the building due to concerns over its safety. The demolition process is expected to take 12 months.

Omuta has an industrial history dating back to the 1400s when coal was first discovered in the mountains by a farmer. Coal mining officially began in the 1700s, with further coal mines opened in the 1850s. The city’s development in the Meiji period saw it become an industrial center in the region in the 1900s. The city was bombed in WWII, especially in its industrial districts, but the J Factory escaped any damage. The city’s population peaked in 1960 with 205,000 residents and has been in gradual decline ever since. By 2021 the population had almost halved to 110,000 residents.

Location

Asamutamachi, Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture

The factory (left) in 1949 when Emperor Showa visited. Image via Mitsui Chemicals History.

Sources:
The Yomiuri Shimbun, August 30, 2021.
The Nishi Nippon Shimbun, August 10, 2021.

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