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Post: Lost Places: Japan’s Military Dictatorship


Between 1933 and 1940, Hideki Tōjō rose to become the empire’s most powerful politician. His vision: A Japanese empire in Asia. The three abandoned places still speak of the harshness and brutality Tōjō sought to achieve.

Ōkunoshima and Miike Mine’s dark past

A small island in southern Japan. A popular vacation spot with hundreds of bunnies bouncing around in the woods and ruins. However, Ōkunoshima has a dark past. Between 1929 and 1944, Japan produced an estimated 9,000 tons of chemical warfare agents there. Rabbits play an important role in its production. They will test the gas that will kill thousands of people in Tōjō’s wars.

In 1868, coal mining began at Japan’s largest mine, the Miike Mine. Japan wants to be an industrial country. Tōjō needs coal and steel. On the one hand, to make himself independent from the great western powers, on the other hand, for their wars. Workers are forced to work in wells under disastrous conditions. Treason: Tōjō primarily allows POWs and forced laborers from Korea and China to work here. They are fueling war against their own people.

Rescue at Mayakan Hotel

Interior shot of abandoned Mayakan Hotel reception area.  The floor is covered with stone and rubble, the walls look fragile.

In 1929, a year before General Tōjō came to power, a magnificent structure was built in the mountains outside Kobe – the Mayakan Hotel. The curved eaves are reminiscent of the French architecture of the period. Everything is in Art Deco style.

When Kobe became the target of air raids in 1944, citizens escaped from the bombs and went to the Mayakan Hotel. Today it is a ruin, abandoned but not forgotten.

Three places as symbols of Hideki Tōjō’s failed quest for power – these are the “Lost Places – Hidden Worlds”.

The series brings the abandoned places of empires long gone to a new life. Impressive ruins depict power and wealth, as well as hatred and oppression.

Source: ZDF

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