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Baron Takuma Dan

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Dr. Baron Takuma Dan (1858-1932)

1932 Obituary [1]

Dr. Baron TAKUMA DAN was born in a samurai family at Fukuoka, Kyushu, in 1858. When thirteen years old, he was singled out by his former Daimyo, Lord Kuroda, to accompany him to America for the prosecution of study. After preparing himself at Boston he entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology, taking the course of mining engineering, and gained the degree of Bachelor of Science at the Institute in 1878.

He returned to Japan, and in the following year was appointed assistant professor of the newly established Osaka College, and was afterwards transferred to a similar post at the Tokio Imperial University.

In 1884 he was appointed an officer in the Department of Public Works in the Imperial Government, and soon afterwards was ordered to take charge of the development work at the Government Colliery at Miike. It was decided to sink new pits at Kachidachi, but the heavy influx of water made the operation very difficult. He was therefore ordered in 1887 to proceed to America and Europe to make thorough investigation of the working of heavily-watered pits. Whilst staying abroad the Government sold the Miike Colliery to the Mitsui interests.

On his return to Japan in 1888 he became the manager of the colliery under the new owner. A severe earthquake caused the pit sinking to be temporarily abandoned. In the face of immense difficulties, however, Baron Dan obtained the consent of the Mitsuis to continue the working by installing a couple of Davy's differential pumps. The pumping plant proved a success, and the sinking of this and other pits was soon completed, the Miike Colliery eventually becoming a prosperous mine. He extended his activity to the neighbouring coal districts, and afterwards did much for the development of the coalfields in Hokkaido.

In 1905 he was appointed director of the Japan Steel Works, and as a member of the Government Commission, did much towards the shaping of national policy in regard to iron and steel. He carried out a cherished plan to distil zinc ore, and now not only metallic zinc but zinc plates are being successfully produced at the Miike zinc refinery. Gold, silver, lead and sulphur mines were also successfully worked under the management of the Mitsui Mining Company. After the Russo-Japanese War he developed the manufacture of intermediates, dyestuffs, and other chemical products, including chemical fertilizers.

Another of Baron Dan's notable contributions was the construction of the Miike Harbour for shipping coal from the Mitsui Company's mine as well as for the general trade. The harbour was completed in 1909. As Director-General of Mitsui Gomei Kaisha, he supervised the Mitsui Bank, one of the largest Japanese commercial banks, and the Mitsui Trust Company, as well as the affairs of many subsidiary companies and works. Baron Dan also devoted time and energy to the promotion of science. He supported the establishment of the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, of which he was a trustee. He was a vice-president of the Imperial Academy of Invention, and played an important part in the formation of the Japan Industrialists' Club. He was a vice-president of the World Engineering Congress, which was held in Tokio in 1929.

Baron Dan travelled extensively. He went five times to Europe and America, and once to China. In 1912 he visited Europe and America as head of the Japanese Business Mission, and journeyed through many industrial and financial centres in Western countries. His many services were recognized by his Government and he was raised to the peerage in 1928.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1899.

His death occurred by assassination on 5th March 1932.

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