History 2018-03-15T08:05:51+00:00

Early History of Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI)

Shozo Kawasaki, the founder opens Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard (Tokyo)

Shozo Kawasaki Kawasaki’s origins go back to 1878, when Shozo Kawasaki established Kawasaki
Tsukiji Shipyard in Tokyo. Eighteen years later, in 1896, it was incorporated
as Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd.Born in Kagoshima to a kimono merchant, Shozo Kawasaki became a tradesman
at the age of 17 in Nagasaki, the only place in Japan then open to the
West. He started a shipping business in Osaka at 27, which failed when
his cargo ship sank during a storm. In 1869, he joined a company handling
sugar from Ryukyu (currently Okinawa Prefecture), established by a Kagoshima
samurai, and in 1893, researched Ryukyu sugar and sea routes to Ryukyu
at the request of the Ministry of Finance. In 1894, he was appointed executive
vice president of Japan Mail Steam-Powered Shipping Company, and succeeded
in opening a sea route to Ryukyu and transporting sugar to mainland Japan.Having experienced many sea accidents in his life, Kawasaki deepened his
trust in Western ships because they were more spacious, stable and faster
than typical Japanese ships. At the same time, he became very interested
in the modern shipbuilding industry. In April 1878, supported by Masayoshi
Matsukata, the Vice Minister of Finance, who was from the same province
as Kawasaki, he established Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard on borrowed land
from the government alongside the Sumidagawa River, Tsukiji Minami-Iizaka-cho
(currently Tsukiji 7-chome, Chuo-ku), Tokyo, a major step forward as a

Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd. is incorporated. Kojiro Matsukata is appointed as the first president of the new company

Kawasaki Kolkata In 1894, seven years after the establishment of Kawasaki Dockyard, the
Sino-Japanese War started and the shipbuilding industry in Japan enjoyed
sudden prosperity.
Kawasaki was also very busy in receiving and finishing a rush of orders
for ship repairs. Realizing the limitation of private management, Kawasaki
decided to take the Company public right after the end of the war. Then
close to 60 years old, without a son old enough to succeed him, Kawasaki
chose Kojiro Matsukata, the third son of his business benefactor, Masayoshi
Matsukata, as his successor.Kojiro Matsukata, born in Satsuma (currently Kagoshima Prefecture) in
1865, became a secretary to Japan’s prime minister during his father’s
administration between 1891 and 1892. In 1896, the younger Matsukata was
appointed the first president of Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd., and maintained
this position for 32 years until 1928. By expanding business into rolling
stock, aircraft and shipping, and implementing Japan’s first eight-hour
day system and other measures, he nurtured and grew Kawasaki into a leading
heavy industrial company in Japan.Matsukata was also known as an art collector. The National Museum of Western
Art in Tokyo was established around the core of Matsukata’s private collection.
In addition, the Tokyo National Museum houses his extensive collection
of Ukiyoe prints.

Launches Cargo-Passenger Ship Iyomaru

Iyomaru Cargo Ship  In 1897, Kawasaki Dockyard completed a cargo-passenger ship, Iyomaru
(727 GT), its first ship after becoming a publicly traded company. During
the 10 years of private management between 1886 and 1896, the Company
built 80 new ships, including six steel ships such as Tamamaru (about
570 GT). Since the first steel ship was built in Japan in 1890, ship material
had rapidly modernized from iron to steel. The beginning of Kawasaki Dockyard
is thus the beginning of Japan’s modern shipbuilding industry.

Finishes construction on Dry Dock at Kobe Shipyard

Dry Dock  Shozo Kawasaki had fully realized that the Company’s shipyard needed
a drastic increase in capacity since Kawasaki Dockyard was established
in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. He planned to construct a dry dock by
reclaiming land next to the shipyard. In 1892, a land survey began, and
in 1895, boring tests were carried out. After the incorporation of Kawasaki
Dockyard, Kojiro Matsukata pursued the plan. Construction work faced rough
going due to the extremely weak foundations of the site on the Minatogawa
River delta. After a couple of failures, a new technique was adopted to
harden the underwater foundation by pouring concrete. Six years later
in 1902, the dry dock was completed at last, costing three times as much
and taking three times longer than the construction of a dock under normal
conditions.Size of the dry dock: Length: 130 m, width: 15.7 m, depth: 5.5 m Maximum
size of ships that can be docked: 6,000 GTThe dry dock (currently No. 1 Dock, Kobe Shipyard) was listed as a Registered
Tangible Cultural Asset of Japan in 1998.

Opens Hyogo Works

Hyogo Works Kawasaki’s first president, Kojiro Matsukata, had a strong desire to
expand into new business areas. One especially promising new business
would be the manufacture of railway cars. In 1906, the newly opened Hyogo
Works began fabrication of locomotives, freight and passenger cars and
bridge girders. This is also the year that Kawasaki began production of
marine steam turbines at its dockyard.

Builds the first submarine in Japan

Submarine The Japanese Navy began to think about introducing submarines around
1901, and it decided to form a submarine corps soon after the start of
the Russo-Japanese War. In 1904, five Holland type submarines, Submarines
No. 1 to 5, were imported from the United States.At the same time, the Navy decided to build submarines in Japan. In 1904,
it awarded an order for the first two to Kawasaki. Although the Navy provided
plans made by J. P. Holland, the designer of Holland type submarines,
the details were left to the Company. Kawasaki devoted all its energies
to building submarines that would live up to the Navy’s expectations and
demonstrate its capabilities as a shipbuilder to the world. It invited
engineers from the United States as well as continuing to research problems
even after laying the keel. In 1906, having conquered many difficulties,
Kawasaki completed and delivered the first two submarines made in Japan,
Submarines No. 6 and 7, to the Navy.

Builds the Yodo, Japan’s first large-size warship built by a private Japanese shipyard

Yodo Warship After the naval battle that decided Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese
War, the Japanese government made plans to strengthen its naval force
by domestically manufacturing its large fleet vessels, all of which were
previously manufactured abroad. Whereas private shipyards had received
government orders for small vessels, such as early destroyers and torpedo
boats, they would now also receive orders for large-size vessels. Built
by Kawasaki Dockyard, the dispatch boat Yodo was the first 100-ton warship
built by a private shipyard and was highly praised by naval officials.
It marks the beginning of true shipbuilding by private shipyards.