To Postwar Reconstruction and High-Speed Economic Growth

Driving Japan’s Economic Growth Through the Expansion of New Business Operations

After the end of World War II, Japan’s trade was put under the control of the allied forces’  General Headquarters (GHQ) and sogo shoshas engaged in the distribution of rationed goods as instructed by the GHQ. When  a restricted version of private trade began  in 1947, our predecessors dispatched staff to what had been their strongest regions before the war in a bid to reopen trade with foreign countries as quickly as possible. The special procurement boom during the Korean War was followed by a period of rapid economic growth which presented sogo shoshas with an excellent opportunity to expand new business operations

In 1946 immediately after the end of World War II, President Yujiro Iwai of Iwai Sangyo Co. Ltd. was appointed as an advisor to the Trade Agency, and in 1947 President Kotaro Nagai of Nissho Co., Ltd. was appointed as the Trade Agency Director by request from Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru. Nichimen Co., Ltd. took on a contract to distribute food from GHQ and reopened its import of cotton from India, Pakistan and Egypt. Nichimen Co., Ltd., which was not included in the list of  business and financial conglomerates to be dissolved following the war, dealt with 5% of all exports and imports  in 1953 and rose to the top of the sogo shosha rankings.

Nichimen Co., Ltd.’s Corporate Advisor, Saburo Nango, met with Mao Zedong, as the company’s China businesses had been particularly strong before the outbreak of World War II. In 1960, the company was designated by China as the first  “friendly trading company” among trading companies. .. With Japan’s growth and the increasing public interest in fashion,  Nichimen Co., Ltd.  began a partnership with U.S. company McGREGOR in 1963, acquiring  exclusive rights to use its trademark in Japan. Nichimen Co., Ltd. also founded Orient Leasing Co., Ltd. (currently, ORIX Corporation) jointly with Iwai Sangyo Co. Ltd. and Nissho Co., Ltd. Strong demand for capital investment brought the concept of leasing to  Japan, supporting Japan’s rapid economic growth with a new financial technology.

Iwai Sangyo Co. Ltd. started to import iron ore from Brazil in 1955 to support the demand for steel needed for Japan’s rapid economic growth, landing a 15-year contract beginning in 1966. In addition, Iwai Sayngo boasted the top domestic transaction volume of products made by Yawata Iron & Steel Co., Ltd.

Nissho Co., Ltd., which changed its name from Nissho Sangyo Company in 1947, quickly restarted the pig iron import business with the Tata Group of India, which the company had inherited from the days of Suzuki & Co., Ltd. Chairman Seiichi Takahata also concluded a contract for the first postwar export of ships. He assumed that given the loss of military demand following the end of World War II, the Japanese ship-building industry would have no other choice but to export ships to survive.  From then on, Nissho maintained a huge lead over its competitors in the export of ships, making Japan the world’s best shipbuilding country. Nissho also sought to embark into the nuclear energy business, an industry which held promise as a new energy source. They established the First Atomic Power Industry Group (FAPIG) together with companies closely associated with the former Suzuki & Co., Ltd., delivering Japan’s first commercial nuclear reactor. Additionally, Nissho paid attention to commercial aircrafts as a new means of transportation and acquired the distribution rights for Boeing in 1956, subsequently introducing great volumes of large passenger airplanes to Japan.

Nichimen’s top brass meets with Mao Zedong
Iron ore quarry in Brazil
FAPIG received a contract for the Tokai Power Plant, pictured here under construction