Timeline of our Corporate History

  • Japan Cotton Trading Co., Ltd.
  • Nichimen Co., Ltd. and Nichimen Corporation
  • Iwai & Co. Ltd. and Iwai Sangyo Co. Ltd
  • Suzuki & Co., Ltd.
  • Nissho Co., Ltd.
  • Nissho Iwai Corporation
  • Sojitz Corporation

Opening the Country, Starting Business


Bunsuke Iwai founds a trading company for foreign goods in Osaka. In 1896, Iwai Katsujiro sets up business on his own and establishes Iwai & Company.


Iwajiro Suzuki founds Kanetatsu Suzuki & Company as a trading house for Western sugar in Kobe.


A group of cotton spinning company executives and merchants in Osaka found Japan Cotton Trading.


Iwajiro Suzuki passes away suddenly. His wife Yone Suzuki entrusts management of the company to head clerks Fujimatsu Yanagida and Naokichi Kaneko.

The Industrial Revolution in the Meiji and Taisho Periods

Katsujiro Iwai draws up a plan for the domestic production of imported goods and establishes a group of manufacturing companies (TOABO, Nisshin Steel, Daicel, Tokuyama, Kansai Paint, and Japan Bridge) called Saishokai.


Suzuki & Company boasts Japan’s top transaction volume as a Sogo Shosha. It establishes about eighty business enterprises, including Kobe Steel and Teijin. Yone Suzuki, the corporate owner, came to be called “O-Ie-san,” while Naokichi Kaneko was called the “Napoleon of the business world” and Seiichi Takahata was said to be “ like a kaiser-turned-merchant.”

Japan Cotton Trading Co. procures cotton materials from all around the world, including India, China, the United States and Egypt. Cotton spinning becomes Japan’s largest industry, with the country exporting cotton yarn and cloth products. Japan grows into the world’s largest cotton spinning country.

The Showa Financial Depression and the Great Depression


Suzuki & Company goes bankrupt.


Seiichi Takahata and Kotaro Nagai from the former Suzuki & Company found Nissho Company.


Katsujiro Iwai passes away. “Nagaoka Zen Juku,” a Zen training center, is established the following year.


Iwai & Company changes its name to Iwai Sangyo, Nissho Company changes its name to Nissho Sangyo, and Japan Cotton Trading changes its name to Nichimen Company.

Postwar Restoration and High-speed Economic Growth


President Yujiro Iwai of Iwai Sangyo is appointed as an advisor to the Trade Agency.

Iwai Sangyo starts transporting food and cotton for the GHQ. Iwai Sangyo becomes a Food Agency- designated U.S. grain trader and achieves the highest imports of U.S. grain in the industry.


President Kotaro Nagai of Nissho Sangyo is appointed as the Trade Agency Director. In 1949, Nissho Sangyo changes its name to Nissho.


Nichimen Company handles five percent of all exports and imports and becomes the top sogo shosha.


Iwai Sangyo starts to import iron ore from Brazil’s Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. In 1962, Iwai Sangyo signs a 15-year contract with the Brazilian company for the export of 50 million tons of iron ore to Japan.


Nissho acquires distribution rights for Boeing. In 1975, the First Atomic Power Industry Group (FAPIG) is organized. The FAPIG member companies receive an order for the construction of Japan’s first commercial nuclear power plant the following year.


Nichimen Corporation is designated as the first “friendly trading company” in China. In 1963, Nichimen partners with U.S. company McGREGOR. In 1964, Nichimen founds Orient Leasing (currently, ORIX) jointly with Nissho and Iwai Sangyo.

1973 Oil Crisis and the End of High-speed Economic Growth


Nissho and Iwai Sangyo merge into Nissho Iwai.


Nichimen founds Yamazaki-Nabisco and exports bearing plants to Poland.


Nissho Iwai starts to trade Onitsuka Tiger shoes with Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), now NIKE.


Nissho Iwai establishes TCCC, a compound chemical fertilizer manufacturer, in Thailand.


Nissho Iwai signs a long-term contract for importing LNG from Indonesia.

Nichimen acquires distribution rights for Airbus Japan.


Nichimen and Nissho Iwai sign a basic contract to become joint project managers for the South Yakut Coal Field Project in the former Soviet Union.


Nissho Iwai participates in the petrochemical business in Brazil and founds company currently known as BRASKEM.


Nichimen receives an order for the construction of the royal palace in Saudi Arabia.


Nichimen tops Japan’s total wood imports across all varieties, including American timber and Southeast Asian timber.


Nissho Iwai acquires distribution rights for Cogéma (currently, AREVA) for nuclear fuel in Japan.

Nichimen signs a contract for an agricultural development project with Heilongjiang Province in China.

The Stronger Yen and the Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy


Nissho Iwai concludes a contract for the export of 325 New York subway trains.


Nichimen Company changes its name to Nichimen Corporation.


Nichimen Corporation becomes the top Japanese trading company to purchase crude oil and petroleum products made in the former Soviet Union.


Nissho Iwai sets up a liaison office in Hanoi, Vietnam, the first for a Japanese company.


Nichimen founds Metton America Inc., a resin manufacturing company. Sojitz also founds a bearing manufacturing company in China.


Nissho Iwai launches the first Japanese afforestation project in Vietnam and also establishes a chemical fertilizer production joint venture (JVF) in the same country the following year.


Nichimen founds American Biaxis, a biaxially stretched nylon film manufacturing and sales company.

The Acceleration of Globalization


Nissho Iwai-Nichimen Holdings Corporation is founded.


Sojitz Corporation is founded.