Inside eerie abandoned ‘ghost island’ with links to James Bond and a sinister past after being left to rot for 40 years | The Sun

MOST movie sets are more glitz and glam than ghosts and ghouls – but this spooky island proved the perfect lair for a James Bond villain.

Hashima Island, nicknamed Gunkanjima, lent itself as a location for the 007 film Skyfall after producers were enticed by its sinister past.

After being left to rot for 40 years, the dilapidated wasteland offered the ideal backdrop for villain Raoul Silva's secret hideout.

But the island's own dark history could provide inspiration to even the most creative scriptwriters.

The abandoned 16 acres lying just over nine miles from Nagasaki, in southern Japan, is haunted by the souls of its slave labourers.

It was initially regarded as a blueprint for the nation's rapid industrialisation thanks to its success in undersea coal mining.


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After discovering the resources in 1887, Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began working to make it habitable for an army of workers.

Its first high-rise building was erected in 1916 – a nine-floor concrete apartment block for the miners to reside in, built to withstand the typhoons that battered Gunkanjima each year.

The development triggered a construction craze on the secluded island – seeing a school, hospital and town hall crop up.

High-rise buildings continued to be churned out over the years, as a community center, cinema, swimming pool and rooftop gardens followed.

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But Hashima Island's progress came at a price – that was ultimately paid by Korean and Chinese prisoners.

Inmates and immigrants were hauled over to the island from 1930 until just after the end of World War II and forced to work.

They endured unthinkable horrific conditions while painstakingly constructing Japan's grand plans to capitalise on the island's coal.

It is estimated that over 1,000 workers died at Gunkanjima as a result of unsafe working conditions, malnutrition, and exhaustion.

Captives even dubbed it "Hell Island", providing a clear hint of the traumatic environment they were trapped in.

Hashima Island is now regarded as a relic of the "evils of industrialisation" – despite since becoming a major tourist attraction.

Following the West's triumph against Hitler in WWII, the island then welcomed a flood of Japanese residents.

At its height in 1959, Gunkanjima was home to some 5,300 people as its coal mining facility continued to flourish.

But the industry ground to a disappointing halt in the 1960s, after petroleum pushed its way to the top spot.

Coal mines began to close across the island, before Mitsubishi shut the doors for good in 1974 – seeing residents abandon ship.

The once-grand high-rises that were previously a point of pride for Hashima Island were left to crumble and eventually collapse.

Four decades of neglect inevitably took a toll on Gunkanjima, leaving only remnants of the past and rubble behind.

Mother Nature was the only one to claim ownership – engulfing the island in overgrown weeds and greenery.

Mitsubishi then voluntarily handed Hashima Island over to Takashima Town, which was absorbed by the city of Nagasaki in 2005.

After making a few safety tweaks to the decaying island, it was opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 2009.

Researcher Takafumi Noguchi said: "Accumulated reinforced concrete ruins do not seem to exist except Hashima.

"Concrete structures built in ancient Rome are the only competitor, but they do not contain reinforcing steel."

But a huge chunk of the land remains off-limits to visitors, as the crumbling of the concrete kingdom still poses a risk.

Interest in Hashima Island spiked significantly in 2012 amid the release of the James Bond film, Skyfall.

The desolate land doubled as the perfect secret lair for baddie Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem.

Production notes simply refer to the haunting yet richly historical Gunkanjima as an "abandoned island off the coast of Macao."

According to reports, Daniel Craig came up with the idea of filming on the island after meeting with Swedish filmmaker Thomas Nordanstad.

The movie buff had previously produced a short documentary in 2002 on the battleship-shaped Gunkanjima.

While they were shooting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Craig is said to have been inspired by Nordanstad's experience.

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The 2013 Thai horror film Hashima Project was also filmed at Hashima Island, proving its eerie atmosphere staunchly remains after decades of abandonment.

It was approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015, after redemption talks between South Korea and Japan.

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