Established in 1917. Yokohama Cable Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (current Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.)
Business executive Suekichi Nakagawa (1874-1956), won the confidence of Ichibei Furukawa, and married Furukawa’s eldest daughter. He studied at Yale University before joining Furukawa Mining Co.,Ltd. Nakagawa was named senior managing director of Yokohama Cable Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in 1914. After that, he held executive positions in Furukawa group companies, and was inaugurated as president of Yokohama Rubber in 1924. Nakagawa contributed to the foundation and management of Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd., Fuji Electric, and (Japan) Nippon Light Metal Co., Ltd., playing an active role as a leader in the Furukawa zaibatsu conglomerate.
The Hiranuma Plant was finished in the town of Hiranuma, city of Yokohama, in 1920. As quickly as possible, advanced metallurgical facilities and equipment to produce belts, hoses, and tires imported from the United States were installed, and production began. The high quality of the products from the Hiranuma Plant soon gained an excellent reputation in industrial circles.
Hiranuma produced Japan’s first corded tires, a bellweather of things to come. Nevertheless, the Hiranuma Plant lasted only two years and a few months before being destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Needless to say, we faced myriad trials before the plant could be rebuilt.
Early in the Showa Era (1926-1989), our company’s rapid growth was due in great part to the excellent domestic rubber products that came from our Tsurumi Plant in Yokoyama.
V-belts, Y-type tires, and other products were indispensable to the industrialization of Japan. The Yokohama Plant expanded until it was fully 10 times larger than the Hiranuma Plant had been, and had the largest production capacity of any rubber factory in Japan. That said, near the end of WWII, air strikes turned our plant to ashes and we were once again without a main production site.
Rising from the ashes of war, our company set out to recover its production capacity and rebuild the corporation. The first items we were able to produce were automobile tires from our new Mie and Mishima plants. We were also able to renew our tires with B.F. Goodrich, which had lapsed during the war.
Regulations on rubber products were at last eliminated, and in the 1950s we entered a freely competitive situation. At this point, construction of our long-awaited Hiratsuka Factory was started.
From 1955, Japan enjoyed robust economic expansion, and the country at last moved “beyond post-war,” according to the 1956 government economic white paper. With “beyond post-war” as a rallying cry, Japan’s domestic GNP rose an average of 10% per annum through 1960, which pushed the economy well into the unprecedented high-growth period.Yokohama further built an extension to the Hiratsuka Factory many times and branched out into vinyl products, aerospace components, and other new businesses. New product development such as synthetic rubber and nylon cord was also stimulated.
With rapid economic growth came motorization, and the automobile industry saw growth as never before. Between 1960 and 1970, tire production increased by five times.
New expressways opened one after the other, and penetration of radial tires moved ahead apace.
Our tire plants increased production but were still hard pressed to keep up with demand, so we built new plants in Shinshiro, in Ibaraki, and then Onomichi.
The two oil crises of the 1970s caused major turning points in the economic structure.Our company put its efforts into research and development and highly diversified business models that enabled us to cope with changed in society by emphasizing energy efficiency and eco-friendly technology, producing high-performance tires, and moving into the sports business. In the late 1980s, we achieved our first plant in the United States, and began our overseas business in earnest.
Entered in the 21st Century, YOKOHAMA established regional headquarters in Asia, Europe, and South America, and then focused on overseas deployment such as establishment of plants in China and Thailand, and the overseas’ first test course in Thailand.
YOKOHAMA also has strived on development of environment-friendly products from raw materials, from tires that achieve high fuel efficiency to achieve “Top-level environmentally contributing company,” to the hose that does not rely on petroleum resources and does not generate harmful gas when burning tires.