In the tumultuous 20th century along with Japan’s modern history, KOBELCO made its mark by forging its own path. In 2005, we celebrated our centennial anniversary and are looking forward to the next 100 years. Read on to learn what we’ve accomplished.
Our history began in September 1905 when Suzuki Shoten, a trading firm, acquired a steel business called Kobayashi Seikosho in Wakinohama, Kobe. That business became Kobe Seikosho, now known as Kobe Steel, Ltd. In 1926, we completed Japan’s first cement plant and in 1930 produced Japan’s first electric mining shovel. Over the next four decades, we steadily solidified our position as a manufacturer. However, by the end of World War II in 1945, air strikes had left our factories throughout Japan heavily damaged.
In 1951, when Japan was still getting back on its feet after World War II, we were the first in Japan to produce titanium and pioneered the industrial application of this metal. In 1959, the No. 1 Blast Furnace at Kobe Works was fired, turning KOBELCO into an integrated steelmaker. In 1970, the Kakogawa Works was completed, broadening our product line-up to include steel wire rod, bar, plate and sheet. Along with Japan’s high growth, KOBELCO, too, grew bigger and became a diversified enterprise encompassing steel, nonferrous metals and machinery.
From the 1960s, we began to expand overseas. In 1960, we opened our first overseas location, an office in New York City. In 1962, KOBELCO completed a fertilizer plant in East Pakistan, currently Bangladesh. This was Japan’s first plant export. The 1970s saw an acceleration in our global activities with the establishment of companies and offices in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the United States and China. Overseas activities and our diversified businesses gained momentum. It was at this time that KOBELCO became an international mark of Kobe Steel.
In January 1995, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake struck western Japan. The quake caused tremendous damage to us. Our Kobe Head Office was completely destroyed and one of our blast furnaces, the heart of a steelworks, had to be shut down. However, we weren’t beaten. Two and a half months later, the blast furnace went back into operation and production quickly returned to normal. We became Japan’s largest wholesale supplier of electricity with the start-up of the No. 1 Power Plant at Shinko Kobe Power Station in 2002 and the No. 2 Power Plant in 2004. Continuing to go forward, we further expanded our overseas locations. In 2005, we celebrated our 100th anniversary. Overcoming turbulent times over the past century, KOBELCO is moving ahead into the future.