Ashio Riot (足尾暴動事件)

The "Ashio Riot" was an event occurred from February 4, 1907 to February 7, that mine workers in Ashio Copper Mine destroyed and set fire to the facilities in the mine. It is also called the Ashio Copper Mine Riot.

In 1903, Tsuruzo NAGAOKA who came from Yubari thought of establishing an organization for mine workers in Ashio, like Dainihon Rodo Shiseikai in Yubari, but it didn't work out at that time. Later on, Sukematsu MINAMI who came to Ashio Copper Mine from Yubari Cole Mine cooperated with Nagaoka, and they set up Dainihon Rodo Shiseikai, Ashio branch on December 5, 1906. They held speech meetings in December and January.

At that time in the Ashio Copper Mine, mine workers' complaints were mounting because of their low wages due to the cost for prevention of mineral pollution which was ordered in Ashio Mineral Pollution Incident and their poor working conditions.

In the morning of February 4, a watch-house in Tsudo mine was destroyed, and dynamites were thrown in. Hearing of the riot, Minami and Tsuruzo NAGAOKA came to the mine mouth and persuaded mine workers that they would responsibly negotiate with the operator of the mine to improve the wages and their working conditions. The situation was once settled. On this day, subsequent operations of Tsudo had stopped.

But the next day, on February 5, the riot spilt over to Honzan mine. Likewise, a watch-house was blown up with dynamites. Again, Minami and others went to Honzan on that day and persuaded the workers.

But the situation didn't settle, and the next day, on February 6, the mine office was attacked in the morning and the director, Teizo MINAMI was assaulted. But a voice saying, don't kill, was raised, and Teizo MINAMI was sent to the Mine Hospital directly, and he returned to his work two weeks later.

Furthermore, shortly after ten o'clock in the morning of that day, Sukematsu MINAMI and Tsuruzo NAGAOKA were arrested for solicitation and incitement and escorted to Utsunomiya City, so there was nobody to stop the riot, and this escalated the riot beyond control. Workers attacked offices, ate and drank what they robbed, and in the afternoon they set fire to the facilities, but it was said that someone ordered to get their hands off money.

On the same day, shortly after eleven o'clock, the police which couldn't control the situation any more sent a telegram asking governor of Tochigi Prefecture for a dispatch of troops. The governor of Tochigi Prefecture, Miyozo NAKAYAMA requested the dispatch of troops shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon. Three troops were sent to Ashio from Takasaki City, but their arrival was in the afternoon of the next day, February 7.

On 7, Ashio Copper Mine stopped operations in every mountains. On this day, there was no particular troubles happened, and as the troops arrived, the persons concerned were arrested. The number of arrested persons was 629. And 182 of them were charged. It is said that the reason why there was no troubles occurred on that day was because the workers were too tired or because they heard that the troops would come.

There were three main mine mouths (Honzan, Kotaki, and Tsudo), and only Kotaki did not participate in the riot.

On 7, Kinkichi MUTO asked questions about the riot at the House of Representatives.

The damage of the riot was estimated to 270 thousand yen.

After the riot, the operator of the mine once fired every worker, and rehired only those who could be identified. This dissolved Shiseikai, but the operator of the mine accepted to raise the wage by 20 %, and as the damage of the facilities was extensive, the operator didn't gain much benefits from this riot, either.

At the trial, prosecutors claimed Shiseikai for solicitation of the riot, but this claim was rejected, and both Sukematsu MINAMI and Tsuruzo NAGAOKA were sentenced innocent.

In the later research by Kazuo NIMURA, a popular theory is that a head of hanba (accommodation for mine workers) provoked workers, and this was the direct opener.

After the Ashio Riot, Tochigi Prefectural Police Department promoted Ashio Branch Police Station to Ashio Police Station.

In June on the same year, a riot occurred in Besshi Copper Mine, and it is said to had been spilled over from Ashio Riot.

[Original Japanese]