The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Various Social Conditions

The Appearance of Patriot Coal
August 1965

Hokotan no Tojo
[The Appearance of Patriot Coal]
38.0 x 53.9 cm painting in Watercolors and Ink

From June 24, 1943, the system of patriot coal was started. All pit workers working underground became obliged to bring 1 kg or more of extra coal when they went up to the surface after finishing their jobs by an order from the Fukuoka Mine Inspection Office. Under the Movement for General Mobilization of the National Spirit, people in coal pits became more patriotic through this obligation, but workers at small-scale coal mines could not fully carry out this task. Most of them mined coal only by driving many single coalfaces, and there was little remaining coal for them to pick up. But if they went up from the pit with no extra coal, they were considered unpatriotic, and they put in effort to look for spilt pieces of coal. Hewers were good at this task, but other pit workers and temporary workers were not. Some of them robbed coal pillars of coal, which were left for safety. Some cunningly pulled out coal masses from other miners' loaded mine cars at landings (makitate) before going up to the surface. Miners were very hungry and tired from lack of food [because of World War II] and this task for the cultivation of national spirit was like finding a needle in a haystack. The task to bring extra coal when coming up from underground (agarimiyage) seemed to be a real contradiction for pit workers after heavy work.
Coal mine owners aimed to make money to buy military aircraft by selling their patriot coal, and they dedicated the aircraft to the government as those labeled Tanko Hokoku-go (Coal Mine Patriot No.) or Yama no Aikoku-go (Colliery Patriot No.) and so on.
A coal mine had its office built near their pit mouth, and there was a big box with the capacity of about 1 ton without a bottom in front of the office. This sakiyama (hewer) is coming up from underground, shouldering a big mass of coal (aragure) which he took trouble to carve. I have seen a man like this. He was one of the number one patriots. It looked as if he was saying that it was time to fulfill our responsibilities on the home front.

Lettering on the Signboards
Nagao Kogyosho Ito Tanko: Nagao Kogyosho (Mining Station) Ito Coal Pit
Hokotan: Patriot Coal

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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