Nissho Co., Ltd.

Nissho Restarted with only 39 Members from the Former Suzuki & Co., Ltd.

After Suzuki & Co., Ltd. went bankrupt in 1927, Seiichi Takahata and Kotaro Nagai, two junior managers from the former Suzuki & Co., Ltd., established Nissho Co., Ltd. together with just thirty nine members from the former company and with only one-eightieth of Suzuki’s capital. The initial financiers of Nissho Co., Ltd. included Kenkichi Kagami, an insurance magnate who was called the “father of the property and casualty insurance business.” He readily consented to provide equity capital, saying, “Mitsui and Suzuki were the two pillars supporting the development of Japanese trade, and trade is essential to the prosperity of our nation. To disband a group versed in trade would not only be a shame, but also a real loss to our nation.”  The banks did not allow Naokichi Kaneko or the Suzuki family to join Nissho, however. Thus, Suzuki & Co.’s former top management sought to restart business through Taiyo Soda Co., Ltd. (currently, TAIYO KOKO Co., Ltd.).

Nissho Co., Ltd. started with a focus on low-risk logistics businesses. They focused primarily on pig iron imports from the Bombay-based Tata Group, the largest conglomerate in India, as well as oil imports from the United States. These imports helped the company mark a surplus from its first fiscal year. . Once Nissho’s business began to get on track, Taiyo Soda and the Suzuki family temporarily became the largest stockholders, and Nissho deepened its relationships with former Suzuki-affiliated companies such as Kobe Steel, Ltd. and Teijin Limited. Nissho moved into the manufacturing business just like former Suzuki & Co., Ltd., the prime example being the foundation of NHK Spring Co., Ltd., which later developed into the world’s number one spring manufacturer.

After the end of World War II, President Kotaro Nagai was appointed as Trade Agency Director by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who empathized with Nagai’s views on energy policy. Nagai contributed to Japan’s postwar restoration from the government side. Later, Nissho Co., Ltd. became the first private company to set up an office in New York after the war. In 1951, Nissho conducted the first ship exports following the restart of private trading in the postwar era and consistently held a top share in the export of ships and ship equipment. In 1954, Nissho concluded a contract for the export of cotton spinning machines with Turkey, which was the largest plant export project of the postwar era. Some time later, in 1956, Nissho concluded a contract with Argentina for Japan’s first railroad export project and contributed to Japan’s postwar restoration by acquiring foreign currency through its exports.  In the same year, Nissho started to actively develop its aircraft business, acquiring  the Japanese distribution rights for Boeing and entering a partnership with McDonnell Douglas.

For its energy business, Nissho approached companies associated with the former Suzuki & Co., Ltd. to organize the First Atomic Power Industry Group (FAPIG). The  member companies of this group received orders for the construction of Japan’s first nuclear power plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki. Moreover, amidst the declining coal industry, Nissho entered the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business and built a logistics network across the country.

In addition, Nissho quickly reopened its import of Tata Group’s pig iron. They also engaged in the export of wire rods made by Kobe Steel, Ltd., building a network of steel processing centers across Japan. In the non-steel products business, Nissho Co., Ltd. became the first company to import nickel ore from New Caledonia in the postwar era with its metals-based businesses holding a 42% share in trade volume prior to their merger with Iwai Sangyo Co. Ltd.

In 1968, Nissho Co., Ltd. merged with Iwai Sangyo Co. Ltd., another company with a strong metals business.

Statue of Seiichi Takahata
Tata Steel’s Jamshedpur plant (front gate pictured above) supported Nissho both at its founding and after the way
Nissho received an oil tanker contract from Panama