Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Making Available Local Industrial History and Memories: The Archiving Process During a Coal Mining Closure in Kushiro

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

This paper focuses on the progressive movement in Kushiro to archive documents related to the coal mining industry. It takes the case of the closure of the Taiheiyo Colliery coal mine in Kushiro, Hokkaido in 2002. As the mine faced closure, there were three important aspects of the archiving process. First, Taiheiyo’s association of former management workers voluntarily collected documents belonging to the company office and the labor union office before they were to be destroyed. They established The Taiheiyo Coal Mining Archive in an unused classroom of a local elementary school. The special feature of this archive is that it includes the documents of both the company and the union. Second, the local government tried to collect documents and materials saved by Kushiro citizens. This was considered an important mission for the last coal mining city in Japan. Third, the government also did an inventory survey of all former Taiheiyo miners, which not only documented over 3,000 miners’ experiences and memories but also provided important work for redundant miners.


   This paper examines two aspects of this archival process. First, I analyze the characteristics and background of the grassroots archives of The Taiheiyo Coal Mining Archives within the cultural context in which the industry thrived. Second, I discuss the current challenges of updating and reconstructing the archives, and passing on of these archives to public record-keeping institutions. In conclusion, I address the potential of the Kushiro archives to make an important contribution to social scientific studies.

Naoko Shimazaki

Waseda University, Japan

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