The business environment deteriorated in the late 1990s in the aftermath of the bubble economy’s collapse and the Asian financial crisis. With the arrival of the era of global standardization, the sogo shosha came to shift their focus from business scale to business efficiency. They carried out asset restructuring while promoting alliances with other trading firms. In particular, Nissho Iwai and Nichimen integrated their businesses of information and communications, building material, synthetic resin, chemicals, petroleum, coal and minerals. In 2003, the two companies merged into Nissho Iwai-Nichimen Holdings which changed its name to Sojitz in 2004.
In 2004, when Sojitz was established, the emerging economies rose to the fore, especially the BRICs, and resource prices began to soar. Sojitz strengthened its resource-related businesses and ventures in emerging economies. For its oil and gas business, Sojitz acquired crude oil and gas interests in the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, Qatar and Egypt and participated in the Tangguh LNG project in Indonesia. Sojitz also strived to secure resources like vanadium, molybdenum, nickel and tungsten, as rare metals had been one of their stronger segments. When Chinese-produced rare earths imports greatly declined amidst worsening Japan-China relations, Sojitz entered a partnership with Australia’s Lynas Corporation in an effort to diversify procurement locations. For its coal business, Sojitz secured interests in Australia and Indonesia. In 2010, Sojitz upped interest in Queensland, Australia’s Minerva Coal Mine to 96% to become site operator.
In their resource business, Sojitz focused on “securing a broad range of resources”as a priority issue. These included not only energy and metals, but also forest products, minerals, and food, leading Sojitz to participate in the first tuna cultivation project in Japan, papermaking chip projects in Mozambique, and fertilizer and industrial salt projects in India.
At the same time, Sojitz also actively developed non-resource projects. Specifically, Sojitz acquired stock in JALUX, an aircraft service company, and promoted retail and wholesale projects in China, Vietnam and Myanmar; food complex projects in Vietnam; and agriculture and grain collection terminal projects in Brazil. In Japan, Sojitz strengthened it shopping center business as well as condominium business,and also participated in the management of Sakura Internet Inc., a data service company.
In response to growing consumption among the wealthy and middle classes of emerging nations, Sojitz worked hard to expand automobile-related business in Thailand, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Russia and Ukraine. Sojitz also received orders for fertilizer plant projects in Turkmenistan, Angola and Russia and for the largest ODA-based railroad construction project in India. In addition, Sojitz also contributed to infrastructure development in the Middle East through IPP (Independent Power Producer) projects.
Amidst growing environmental concerns, Sojitz joined solar IPP projects in Germany and Italy, and in 2013, mega-solar projects in Japan. In addition, Sojitz is strengthening its environmentally-friendly businesses, such as bioethanol and green chemical projects.
In 2006, Sojitz became the first Japanese company to receive a goodwill award from the Vietnamese government for their wide range of activities in the country since its inception.