Introduction

The city of Nagasaki, lying at the western edge of Kyushu, prospered from the middle of the 16th century as Japan’s closest port to China and in the interim experienced innumerable upheavals, the most catastrophic being the atomic bombing of 1945.


Geographical Features
The Early History of Nagasaki
Nagasaki under Direct Government Control
Red Seal Ships, National Isolation and the Anti-Christian Edict
The Great Fire of 1663 and the Period of Rebuilding
Establishment of the Nagasaki Naval Training Institute and the Nagasaki Iron Foundry
The Modernization of Nagasaki
Nagasaki as a Fortified Zone
Inauguration as a Municipality
From Trade Port to Shipbuilding Center
The Second City Expansion
Urban Planning and the Development of Urakami
Nagasaki City under Wartime Administration




Geographical Features

The city of Nagasaki surrounds a long narrow harbor where two principal valleys converge. To the south is the long-established urban district, while a more recently developed district lies to the north.
          The ancient geographical and strategic hub of Nagasaki is Mt. Kompira, looming over the harbor from a height of 363.3 meters. Hills and peaks ranging in height from 200 to 300 meters stretch on a north-south line toward the harbor.
          The long narrow harbor extends southward, with Mt. Kompira in the foreground and the Mt. Hiko, Mt. Inasa and Mt. Iwaya ranges to the east, west and north, respectively, and the city streets climbing the hillsides in a terraced formation. The harbor is fed by Nakashima, Urakami and Oura Rivers flowing into the harbor from the northeast, north and south-southeast, respectively, with city neighborhoods spreading out from the river deltas.
          The district of Urakami is located in the upper reaches of the Urakami River north of the harbor. The more recently developed part of the city mentioned above, this district was the center of the devastation caused by the atomic bombing.
          Nagasaki’s complex topography makes it different in many ways from cities with a flat landscape. The effects of the atomic bomb explosion revealed these unique features, the old and new parts of the city clearly suffering different levels of damage.
          In the spring of 1945, when the war in the Pacific was nearing an end, the United States established a committee to select cities suitable for atomic bombings. This “Target Committee” was headed by General Leslie R. Groves, leader of the project to develop the atomic bomb (the Manhattan Project). The committee convened for the first time on April 27, 1945 and subsequently conducted various studies that led to a decision (on July 22) to remove Kyoto from the list and replace it with Nagasaki. Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrell opposed the decision on the grounds that the bomb would not fully demonstrate its devastating effect in Nagasaki with its long narrow shape and mountainous terrain. Nagasaki remained on the list of targets, however, because of its status as a major industrial city in western Kyushu. As a result of this chain of events, Nagasaki became, after Hiroshima, the second city in the world to suffer the tragedy of an atomic bombing.
          At 11:02 a.m., August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded over the Urakami neighborhood of Matsuyama-machi and destroyed one-third of the city of Nagasaki.
          The B-29 bomber carrying the atomic bomb had flown over Nagasaki and made visual confirmation of the factories and open lots in the Urakami area.
          The mountainous terrain of Nagasaki confined the force of the atomic bomb explosion, but the city and suburbs still suffered terrible damage. This was mitigated in the older parts of the city by the natural shield of Mt. Kompira, and although some areas were devastated by fire, the worst possible scenario, that is complete destruction, was averted. It can be said that many lives were saved as a result.
          Many of the facilities remaining in the old part of the city provided emergency centers for the accommodation of large numbers of victims and allowed for the maintenance of a system to request emergency support and relief activities from organizations inside and outside Nagasaki Prefecture.
          On the other hand, however, it took considerable time for the Nagasaki prefectural and municipal governments to determine the extent of damage in Urakami because both offices were located in the old part of the city. Furthermore, government officials were unable to extend emergency aid or dispatch rescue teams at the initial stage of the crisis, partly due to geographical impediments.
          Thus, the fate of the city was once again decided by Mt. Kompira and the complex topography of Nagasaki, a fact that is clearly evident in the pattern of destruction caused by the atomic bombing.
          The extent of damage may have differed between the old and new parts of the city, but the entire population suffered pain and sorrow in the aftermath. The atomic bomb killed or injured approximately 150,000 people and left scars that remain to this day deep in the hearts of Nagasaki citizens.
          The external appearance of the Urakami hypocenter area has been so thoroughly refurbished that more people live here now than in the old city center, evidence of how Nagasaki has risen from the rubble of the atomic wasteland and gone from restoration to prosperity over the past decades.
          As of January 2006, Nagasaki City has a total area of 406.35 k㎡ and a population of approximately 455,000, double the peak population before the war.


The Early History of Nagasaki

In 1571, two Portuguese ships arrived in Nagasaki Harbor, opened for foreign trade the previous year by feudal lord Omura Sumitada (1533-1587). That spring, Omura, the first daimyō (feudal lord) to become a Christian, initiated the building of town blocks at the tip of a long grassy promontory protruding into Nagasaki Harbor, part of his feudal domain and the site of modern-day Nagasaki Prefecture Office. Six machi or quarters were established: Shimabara-machi, Omura-machi, Hokaura-machi, Hirado-machi, Bunchi-machi and Yokoseura-machi. The approximately 1,500 people who settled here formed the earliest community in modern Nagasaki history, and the city expanded thereafter with the reclamation of land from the harbor and the development of new urban neighborhoods to the rear.
          It should be noted that an older settlement already existed on land approximately two kilometers northeast of the promontory, a village with a castle ruled by Nagasaki Jinzaemon Sumikage, one of Omura Sumitada’s chief retainers. Some historians surmise that the plan to build a separate new town on the promontory came from the Portuguese. Omura Sumitada dispatched retainers to serve as neighborhood magistrates and consulted with Nagasaki Jinzaemon Sumikage and the Portuguese Jesuits in developing the new town.
          One theory has it that the name of Nagasaki, which literally means “long cape,” is derived from the promontory that was the town’s most prominent topographical feature before being lost as a result of reclamations from the harbor.
          Nagasaki prospered during the early years as a center for trade with Portugal and for Christian missionary activities in Japan. By 1592, the number of neighborhoods on the promontory had grown to 26 (known as uchimachi or “inner quarters”), populated by some 3,000 people. Studded with churches and hospitals, these neighborhoods exuded a unique atmosphere tinted deeply with Christian culture.
          The rapid population growth led to overcrowding in the core area of Nagasaki and necessitated the construction of new neighborhood quarters. The area around the promontory and mudflats separating it from the coast were gradually reclaimed from the harbor to acquire more land. The development of the new neighborhoods, called sotomachi or “outer quarters”, proceeded unsystematically in response to the needs of the Nagasaki townspeople and supported the local economy by serving as a housing district for new residents.
          The Nagasaki population grew continuously, reaching 8,000 in 1595 and 15,000 by the beginning of the 17th century. This growth coincided with the flourishing of Christian culture in Japan and the dispatch of the Tensho Delegation, a group of Japanese boys sent to Europe in 1582 at the behest of the Nagasaki Jesuits.


Nagasaki under Direct Government Control

Jurisdiction over Nagasaki transferred from Omura Sumitada to the Jesuits and then underwent another dramatic shift to the national level. In 1580, soon after the opening of Nagasaki for foreign trade, Sumitada donated the port and environs to the Society of Jesus. In 1588, however, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was struggling to achieve dominion over all of Japan, confiscated Nagasaki and placed it under the direct control of a magistrate representing his regime. This event changed the course of Nagasaki history and exerted a profound effect on the culture of the port.
          The neighboring district of Urakami was also under the jurisdiction of the Society of Jesus, having been donated by Christian daimyo Arima Harunobu in 1584. Like Nagasaki, however, it fell under direct control of the Toyotomi regime in 1588.
          Seeking to separate trade from religious activities, Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued a ban on Christianity in 1587. In 1596, he ordered the arrest of six European priests and 20 Japanese Christians followers and their execution in Nagasaki. The death of this group, who were later canonized as the “Twenty Six Saints of Japan,” marked the beginning of Christian martyrdoms in Japan and cast a dark shadow on the history of Nagasaki.


Red Seal Ships, National Isolation and the Anti-Christian Edict

A system of trade conducted by “Red Seal Ships” (Japanese ships granted special permission to trade overseas) was initiated in 1592, giving Nagasaki a new role as a port for Japanese ships during the Keicho Period (1596-1615). The growth of the Nagasaki population to 24,693 in 1615 and the expansion of the town to 40 machi (neighborhoods) is attributable to this new prosperity. By now, however, the churches had been destroyed and replaced by a new townscape featuring shrines and temples.
          In 1616, the Tokugawa Shogunate (established by the first Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu after the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi) restricted the ports of call for Dutch and British vessels to Hirado and Nagasaki. This was the first step in Japan’s isolation policy, introduced in line with the suppression of Christianity. Subsequently, the Shogunate discontinued the system of overseas trade conducted by the Red Seal Ships, and, reacting to the Shimabara Rebellion (a peasant uprising in Shimabara near Nagasaki viewed as Christian-inspired by the Shogunate) enforced a complete ban on the visits of Portuguese ships to Japan in 1639. Trade privileges were now granted solely to the Netherlands and China and trade confined to the single port of Nagasaki. This was the beginning of Japan’s long period of national isolation.
          The ban on Christianity initiated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi was reinforced in 1614 by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who issued a complete ban on Christianity. A large number of Christians left Japan and many others, refusing to recant, gave up their lives as martyrs on the execution ground at Nishizaka. Some meanwhile fled to Urakami and other remote regions near Nagasaki and became “underground Christians,” maintaining their faith in secret for 250 years thereafter. Urakami is the historic center of this remarkable tradition, which is now one of the unique aspects of the regional culture of Nagasaki.
          The policy of national isolation continued for two centuries. During that period, Nagasaki developed dramatically as Japan’s only port open for foreign trade and only point of contact with foreign cultures. Nagasaki’s prosperity peaked during the first 70 years of the period of national isolation, a fact clearly reflected by the number of foreign ships arriving at Nagasaki Harbor. A total of 5,920 Chinese ships entered the harbor over the entire course of the period of national isolation, and of that number 3,860 (65%) arrived here during the first 70 years. With regard to Dutch ships, a total of 620 visited Nagasaki during the period of national isolation, 386 or 62% of which arrived here during the first 70 years. The expansion of the town to the sotomachi (“outer neighborhoods”) was due in large part to the activity of the harbor.


The Great Fire of 1663 and the Period of Rebuilding

The number of machi(neighborhoods or quarters) in Nagasaki, totaling 66 in 1663, was reduced to only nine as a result of an unprecedented fire the same year. The Tokugawa Shogunate provided a subsidy of 2,000 kanme of silver (1 kanme = 3.75 kg) for the reconstruction of the devastated areas. At the same time, the Shogunate took the opportunity to implement an innovative urban development plan, creating and widening streets and equalizing the size of neighborhoods by division into smaller units. The reconstruction project reached completion in 1672, and the remarkably restored Nagasaki now had 77 neighborhoods. The neighborhoods of Maruyama, Yoriai and Dejima were later added, bringing the total to 80 and making Nagasaki the largest city in western Japan. This is what is now referred to as the old district. Naturally, the population also grew rapidly from 40,025 in 1672 to 52,702 only nine years later. In 1696, there were 11,257 households and a population of 64,523, the highest prior to the introduction of a modern municipal administration in 1889. The activity of the Dutch Factory on Dejima Island and the Chinese Quarter in Juzenji (present-day Kannai-machi) also peaked around this time.
          After the golden era in the initial stages of the period of national isolation, restrictions on trade were tightened and the population of Nagasaki declined from 64,000 to approximately 40,000. However, the city began to play a different but important role at the end of the Edo Period when the port served as a site for negotiations between Japan and foreign countries. The negotiations for the opening of Japan to foreign trade began with the arrival of a Russian delegation led by Nikolai Rezanov in 1804.
          In 1808, the British warship Phaeton entered Nagasaki Harbor unlawfully, and Nagasaki Magistrate Matsudaira Zushonokami took responsibility for the failure of Japanese forces to repel the ship and committed suicide. This tragedy, remembered by historians as the “Phaeton Incident,” was a product of the policy of national isolation.
          In the mid-19th century, ships of the French and American navy began to appear in Japanese waters, adding to the momentum for change. The policy of national isolation came under further pressure in 1853, when a Russian squadron commanded by Rear Admiral Efimi Putiatin sailed into Nagasaki at roughly the same time that American naval vessels led by Commodore Matthew Perry entered the port at Uraga near Edo (Tokyo).
          In 1854, Admiral James Stirling arrived in Nagasaki with four British warships to submit a request for a treaty between Britain and Japan and succeeded in concluding the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty in October the same year. Then in 1858, the Tokugawa Shogunate signed the Ansei Five-Power Treaties and ended the policy of national isolation that had lasted for more than two centuries. Nagasaki, Yokohama and Hakodate were opened for foreign trade the following year, and Nagasaki relinquished its position as Japan’s sole gateway to the outside world.


Establishment of the Nagasaki Naval Training Institute and
the Nagasaki Iron Foundry

In 1855, in the midst of this rapidly changing political situation, the Tokugawa Shogunate arranged for the establishment, under Dutch supervision, of a naval training institute in the Nagasaki Magistrate West Office (site of present-day Nagasaki Prefecture Office). In 1857, a related facility called the Nagasaki Iron Foundry was established across the harbor at Akunoura. While the naval training institute was the cradle of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Nagasaki Iron Foundry was the forerunner of modern industry in Japan and the predecessor of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard, which would grow into one of the most important shipbuilding facilities in the world and a pillar of the Nagasaki economy.
          In 1860, a settlement for foreigners was established on reclaimed land in Oura and the surrounding hillsides, southeast of the old town of Nagasaki. Ships of various nations began to frequent the harbor, carrying firearms and other new import items that symbolized the drastic changes taking place in Japan at the time.
          The Tokugawa Shogunate, which had boasted a seemingly immutable grip on power during the period of national isolation, collapsed only eight years after the opening of the country to foreign trade.


The Modernization of Nagasaki

A new era arrived. The center of trade shifted in the early Meiji Period to Yokohama and other ports near the centers of political power, but Nagasaki was still the closest port in Japan to mainland China, a geographical advantage that allowed it to maintain its unique role in domestic affairs despite the changes in Japan’s international relationships.
          In 1868, the new Meiji government recognized Nagasaki as the most important city in Kyushu by stationing the “Kyushu Administrator General” (Sawa Nobuyoshi, the first governor of Nagasaki) here.
          When the Seinan Rebellion, a clash between samurai of the Satsuma Clan and the Imperial Japanese Army, broke out in 1877, the government established a temporary military office in Nagasaki to serve as a tactical base for the stockpiling of food, ammunition and medicine. It is said that the rebel forces led by Saigo Takamori also sought to occupy Nagasaki as a way to control all of Kyushu.
          The Nagasaki Harbor Improvement Project was initiated in 1877, an event that marked the beginning of the modern development of Nagasaki. The main purpose was to dredge the harbor and divert the flow of Nakashima River. The work reached completion in 1893. Around the same time, ships plying domestic and international sea routes began to frequent the harbor, and the increase in marine transportation led to rapid progress in the shipbuilding industry. After the First Sino-Japanese War(1894-1895), the harbor served as a port-of-call for foreign naval vessels, particularly the Russian East Asian Fleet, which famously used Nagasaki as a winter anchorage. This was Nagasaki’s golden age of prosperity after the Meiji Restoration.
          The extension of the Kyushu Railway to Nagasaki Station (present-day Urakami Station) via Nagayo Station was completed in 1897, during the same period of prosperity.


Nagasaki as a Fortified Zone

The designation of Nagasaki as a “fortified zone” (an area of strategic military importance) coincided with the activity of the city as an international port. The oldest fortified zone in Nagasaki Prefecture was Tsushima Island, established in 1886. This was followed in 1891 by the designation of Sasebo and Nagasaki as sites for defense facilities. When the First Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1894, work was launched to enhance security at Tsushima and construct emergency defense facilities in Sasebo and Nagasaki. In 1897 and 1898, cannon batteries were built in Sasebo and Nagasaki, respectively, and the military installations at Tsushima, Sasebo and Nagasaki were all mobilized during the the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).
          The construction of fortifications at Nagasaki was initiated in 1898 and completed in December 1900 in order to directly defend the entrance to Nagasaki Harbor. Guns of various sizes were installed on the islands of Kaminoshima and Kagenoojima and on the opposite shores. In December 1899, military authorities stationed a regiment of the Sasebo Fortress Artillery in barracks in Takenokubo-machi and in May the following year established the Nagasaki Fortress Headquarters (Nagasaki yōsai shireibu) in Takenokubo-machi, site of present-day Nagasaki Prefectural Nishi High School.
          The first stone pillar erected by the Department of War to mark the Nagasaki Fortified Zone can still be seen today on the rocky northern side of Shirogashima Island at the harbor entrance, and, although few people notice it today, the 0.7-meter tall pillar still bears the inscription “June 10, 1899.”
          The same year that the pillar was erected, treaty revisions resulted in the abolition of the foreign settlements of Japan and the elimination of exterritorial rights for foreign residents. The former Nagasaki Foreign Settlement was now an ordinary Nagasaki neighborhood, and foreigners were permitted to live anywhere in Japan.


Inauguration as a Municipality

On April 1, 1889, Nagasaki joined Kyoto, Osaka and Kumamoto in adopting a system of municipal administration and taking its first steps as a modern urban center. Parts of the villages of Kami-Nagasaki and Shimo-Nagasaki with a combined population of 7,299 were amalgamated. An estimated 7 k㎡ in area, the new municipality was comprised of 79 machi (neighborhoods) and 11 (suburban districts) and included 8,964 households and 54,502 residents. There were also 1,055 foreign residents from 13 countries living in Nagasaki, including 701 Chinese, 104 British, 77 Americans, 40 Russians and 38 French. The first mayor of Nagasaki was Kitahara Masanaga (1843-1913).
          The first expansion of the municipality took place in 1898, when the villages of Shimo-Nagasaki and Fuchi, as well as parts of Kami-Nagasaki and Tomachi, were incorporated, increasing the city area to an estimated 16 k㎡ and the population to 112,907 people including 1,560 foreign residents. Thus, less than 10 years after inauguration as a municipality, both the area and population of Nagasaki had more than doubled. In 1903, the year before the Russo-Japanese War, the population reached 154,727, a figure that only six other cities in Japan could surpass.
          This same period witnessed the so-called “two great public works of the Meiji Period,” namely the first phase of the waterworks expansion project and the second phase of the Nagasaki Harbor improvement project. In addition to the Upper Hongochi Dam completed in 1891, the Lower Hongochi Dam and Upper Nishiyama Dam were constructed to secure a water supply sufficient for a projected 200,000 residents. The harbor improvement project meanwhile called for the reclamation of land from the sea along the waterfront at Dejima, Ohato, Daikoku-machi (rear section), Magomeoki (Onoue-machi and Ibinokuchi), Inasa and Hiradogoya, creating 24 new city blocks and improving road conditions. All of the construction work reached completion between 1903 and 1904. Moreover, in 1905, the railroad line was extended from Nagasaki Station (present-day Urakami Station) to a new station located at the site of modern-day JR Nagasaki Station, further tightening the network of land and marine transportation.
          The Russo-Japanese War broke out in the midst of these circumstances. The reclaimed land at Dejima served as a gathering place for cavalry preparing to leave by ship for the battlefields, a role that gave rise to names like Senba-machi (“Thousand Horse Quarter”) and Suishibashi (“Troop Dispatch Bridge”). Once a winter anchorage for the Russian East Asian Fleet, Nagasaki Harbor suddenly turned into a base for the dispatch of horses and military supplies. However, the prosperity of Nagasaki as a trade port did not return after the end of Russo-Japanese War. Due to factors such as the relocation of many foreign trading companies to Yokohama and Kobe and the adverse effects of civil strife in China, international trade gradually declined and Nagasaki experienced a transition from its traditional role as a trade port to that of a shipbuilding center.


From Trade Port to Shipbuilding Center

As noted above, the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard developed from the Nagasaki Iron Foundry established here in 1857. The foundry went through a number of incarnations, changing in name from the government-owned “Nagasaki Ironworks” to the “Nagasaki Industrial Branch Works.” In 1884, the Meiji government transferred management of the facility to the Mitsubishi Company, thereby placing control in the hands of the private sector. The company changed the name to “Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard and Engine Works” and launched its first ship in 1887, the Yugao Maru, Japan’s first iron steamship and for many years to come a familiar sight to the citizens of Nagasaki.
          The same year, the government transferred ownership and complete control of the shipyard to the Mitsubishi Company, which began full-fledged shipbuilding projects.
          In 1890, the 600-ton Chikugogawa Maru, Japan’s first large-scale iron cargo-passenger vessel, was launched from the building berths. This was followed by a seried of ever more sophisticated 1,000-ton, 6,000-ton and 10,000-ton merchant ships and coincided with the construction of naval vessels, first torpedo boats and then destroyers, cruisers and large-scale battleships. During the period of nearly 40 years from 1885 to 1922, approximately 350 small and large military ships were launched at the shipyard, which by 1907 had grown into the largest shipbuilding facility in East Asia and only a few years later boasted the third greatest production volume in the world. The rapid development of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard reflected the high demand for merchant vessels in the globally active Japanese shipping industry and also the strengthening of Japan’s naval forces during the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, which broke out at approximately 10-year intervals. In 1917, at the height of World War I, the shipbuilding division of Mitsubishi Goshi Kaisha was detached as an independent entity under the name Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd.
          The same year, the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Arms Factory began operation as the only private company in Japan manufacturing torpedoes, with factories located in the Nagasaki neighborhood of Mori-machi and on the coast at Dozaki in the village of Nagayo. In 1924, after the end of World War I, the Mitsubishi Electric Manufacturing Company, Ltd. established a factory on the land adjacent to the shipyard. Both the arms factory and electric factory were independent entities detached from the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard.


The Second City Expansion

In 1920, Nagasaki City extended its municipal borders for the second time. The city had grown year by year, forcing the population to spill over into neighboring districts, causing traffic, hygiene and security problems that could no longer be overlooked, and leading to the incorporation of the villages of Kami-Nagasaki (8,699 people) and Urakaminosato (8,928 people) into Nagasaki City with a view to the creation of a “Nagasaki metropolis.” As a result, the area of the city doubled to 42.9 k㎡, and the number of machi (neighborhoods) increased to 164 with a total population of 176,948, including 1,122 foreign residents (841 Chinese), figures that underline the changes affecting the city.
          The plan to create a Nagasaki metropolis and modern industrial center made its first step toward realization with the second city expansion in 1925. In the meantime, however, two events of contrasting importance exerted an effect on the city. One was the scrapping of the battleship Tosa, and the other the inauguration of a regular ship service between Nagasaki and Shanghai.
          The 40,000-ton Tosa, the most sophisticated battleship of its time, was launched in late 1921, but the Washington Naval Treaty signed the following year designated it as one of several warships to be scrapped. Still unfitted, the hapless battleship was towed out of Nagasaki Harbor to the coast of Tosa, the town in Shikoku Island from which it took its name, and then used for artillery practice until it finally sank. An event at the launching ceremony had already intimated the sad fate of the ship: the ceremonial kusudama (a piñata-like ball filled with confetti and streamers) failed to break open and release its contents.
          By contrast, the inauguration of a regular passenger service between Nagasaki and Shanghai came in 1923, with the 5,300-ton sister ships Nagasaki Maru and Shanghai Maru steaming back and forth between the two ports. The opening of the Nagasaki-Shanghai line raised the hopes of Nagasaki citizens, who believed it would promote trade between Japan and China and boost Nagasaki’s sluggish economy.


Urban Planning and the Development of Urakami

In 1923, the national government chose Nagasaki for application of the City Planning Law and announced in its official gazette that the Nagasaki Urban Planning District had been established on January 23 the same year. Since Nagasaki depended so heavily on the prosperity of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard, it was a foregone conclusion that the city would be earmarked for industrialization. The year 1923 also saw the completion of Himi Tunnel and the opening of a new national road, which dramatically increased the efficiency of overland transportation. The Nagasaki city planners chose the following commercial and industrial districts in conjunction with improvements to urban thoroughfares:

Commercial District
          “The area from Oura-machi to Shindaiku-machi and the area from Tamae-machi to Nagasaki Station…… are designated commercial districts based on the present state of land development there.”
Industrial Districts
          “The low-lying land from the south bank of Urakami River downstream to the shore of Kibachi-machi and the coastal area from Naminohira-machi and To-machi 3-chome are designated industrial districts in view of the convenience of marine transportation. Mitsubishi Shipyard…… Mitsubishi Arms Factory and other large factories, such as gas and textile factories, are already located here. Moreover, the areas are favored with southerly winds…”
          “The area flanking Urakami River, that is, Ieno-machi, Ohashi-machi, Oka-machi and Matsuyama-machi, is designated an industrial district in of the area’s steady breezes and groundwater capacity and its potential to serve as a hub for marine transportation when Urakami River is used as a canal in the future.”
          The areas around the above districts were designated as residential districts.
          Nagasaki’s greatest river at 12 kilometers in length, Urakami River originates in Azebetto and is joined along the way by Kawabira River, Nameshi River and Otonashi River and in its lower reaches by Motohara River and Shiroyama River, broadening to a width of about 100 meters at the estuary.
          Nagasaki City, disadvantaged by a lack of flat land, envisioned its future in the plans for urban development as it greeted the arrival of a new era: the Showa Period (1926-1989). Needless to say, the greatest expectations of all were placed on the second industrial district covering the relatively flat area from downstream Urakami River to the riverside district known as Urakami Basin. The plans came to fruition during the second decade of the Showa Period, that is, the years from the Second Sino-Japanese War to the war in the Pacific. The epitomy of a “new industrial district” emerged here with the foundation of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Steelworks in April 1937 and a large number of other Mitsubishi-related arms, shipbuilding and electric factories and subsidiary facilities. Together with the west coast of Nagasaki Harbor, site of the main factories of Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard and Mitsubishi Electric Works, the new industrial district in Urakami developed into one of Japan’s most important military-industrial areas.
          Thus, Urakami underwent great changes. One example is the schools in the district. In 1937, the Nagasaki Teachers Training School (for boys) and Junshin Girls High School moved to the quiet suburban neighborhood of Ieno-machi from Sakurababa-machi and Nishinaka-machi, respectively. Within a few years, however, the Mitsubishi Arms Factory Ohashi Plant was established nearby, and in 1940 the Nagasaki Prefectural Technical School, formerly located in Maruo-machi, also moved to the hillside in Ueno-machi.
          The Shiroyama neighborhood on the west bank of Urakami River meanwhile emerged as a teeming residential district. In 1923, Shiroyama Elementary School started classes in a three-story building here, the first reinforced concrete schoolhouse in Nagasaki. That same year Nagasaki Prefectural Keiho Middle School was established on the hillside in Takenokubo-machi, and in 1930, Chinzei Middle School moved from Higashiyamate-machi to a new schoolhouse built in the same neighborhood. This was followed in 1933 by the relocation of Nagasaki Municipal Commercial School to Nishi-go from Irabayashi-machi. Municipal housing blocks also began to appear in Shiroyama-machi from the early 1920’s. No one could imagine that the entire area encompassing Urakami and Shiroyama was destined to suffer instant obliteration by an atomic bomb.


Nagasaki City under Wartime Administration

In 1938, the municipal borders of Nagasaki were extended for the third time to include the four villages of Kosakaki, Doinokubi, Kogakura and Nishi-Urakami (with a total population of 14,575), already earmarked for incorporation by urban development plans. As a result, the area of Nagasaki City expanded to 90.54 k㎡, with a total population of 242,609. Despite some fluctuation over time, the Nagasaki population remained at this level throughout the years under war administration.
          The majority of foreign residents of Nagasaki around this time were Chinese, but as the Sino-Japanese War escalated many returned to their home country, and the foreign population gradually declined. The exact number of foreign residents of Nagasaki at the outbreak of World War II is not known.
          During the late 1930’s, the industrial district of Nagasaki also extended beyond the city borders. In 1936, Kawanami Industries Co. Ltd. established a shipyard on the island of Koyagi at the entrance to Nagasaki Harbor and, in 1941, built another shipbuilding facility (Fukahori Shipyard) on the opposite shore in the Fukahori district.