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city, Ibaraki ken (prefecture), Honshu, Japan. Its industrial development began with the discovery of copper in the locality in 1591. Large-scale copper smelting was introduced during the Meiji period (1868-1912), and after 1920 the Hitachi Company, Ltd., diversified into the production of electrical appliances and machinery. Between 1907 and 1938 Hitachi's population increased 10-fold. The company town prospered particularly after the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), when it filled a manufacturing void after many factories in the Keihin Industrial Region were destroyed. Hitachi suffered heavy damage from American bombing during World War II, but its recovery was rapid. Its mine yields copper to be made into electric wires and rolled-copper products. Its harbour, completed in 1960, is the largest commercial port in the prefecture. Pop. (2005) 199,218.