2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Steel Industry in Northeast China, 1915-1945

Tsu-yu Chen

Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica

The Manchurian region has long been one of the major locations of China’s steel industry. The development of steel industry in that region was closely related to the Japanese invasion of China. For example, the Japanese-owned South Manchuria Railway Company (SMR) managed both the Fushun coalmines and the Anshan Iron Factory. The Fushun colliery supplied both fuel and coke to Anshan to produce pig iron, which was essential to Japan’s steel industry, and Anshan started to produce steel by the late 1920’s. In addition, the Okura Zaibatsu in Manchuria founded the Benxihu Coal & Iron Company in 1910. The Japanese government encouraged these iron-steel factories with national capital, and helped transform Manchuria’s steel industry into a typical export-oriented industry.

Manchukuo was founded in 1932. In order to promote the Japan-Manchurian bloc economic system, the SMR decided to further develop the local steel industry. With permission from the Japanese government, equipment from the Anshan Iron Factory was turned over to the Showa Steel Factory in 1933. In 1936, the Nissan Zaibatsu formed the Manchu Heavy Industries Development Company (MHID) and took over the management of the Showa Steel Factory. Nissan also invested in the Benxihu Coal & Iron Company, thereby gaining control over the steel industry in Northeast China. The fuel for the Showa Steel Factory came from the Fushun coalmines, while Showa supplied rolled steel to the railway sector of the SMR, local infrastructure, and military industries. Later, when the export of steel products to Japan turned out to be less than originally expected, the steel industry ceased to be operated as an export-oriented industry. On the other hand, due to the increase of iron-steel production in vertical integration, a number of satellite factories producing rolled steel products appeared. A new steel production system thus emerged, with Showa as its pivot.


Keywords: Northeast China, steel industry, Japan, South Manchuria Railway Company, Manchu Heavy Industries Development Company, Showa Steel Factory, Zaibatsu, Manchukuo