Overcoming the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
Based in the city of Kobe in western Japan, the Kobe Steel Group was hit hard by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Quake on January 17, 1995. Although we had few casualties, a blast furnace at our Kobe Works was severely damaged in the quake, plunging the company into a situation that endangered its very survival.
A blast furnace is not just a symbol of the steel industry, but is an essential facility at the Works. Once a blast furnace is started up, it operates throughout its entire service life of about 20 years without stopping. But when the Hanshin quake struck, the blast furnace had to be shut down immediately, leaving the molten iron in the furnace to cool into a solid mass at the bottom.
With the help of outside specialists and the strenuous efforts of our technical team, we were able to repair the blast furnace and miraculously start it up again two and a half months later, on April 2. It was the first time in the world that a blast furnace had been restarted under such conditions, generating much interest among the media. Even to this day, the memory of our recovery from the quake is etched in the identity of KOBELCO.
Kobe Steel sustained losses of over 100 billion yen from the 1995 quake. But 10 years later, in 2005, we were able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our foundation. We hope that those suffering in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake will - with an indomitable spirit - recover soon from the disaster.
Having gone through a similar experience, we in Kobe send these words of encouragement: “Do your very best and you’ll certainly get back on your feet!”