“Sojitz Switch,” a Rube Goldberg-esque machine showcasing the Sojitz Group’s most well-known businesses, was unveiled at the Tokyo headquarters’ “Sojitz Family Day” event on August 4th, 2017. President Fujimoto pushed the button to start the machine, symbolically ushering in a new chapter and future growth for the company.
At the end of the Edo period, Commodore Perry arrived in Japan, ending Japan’s isolationist period and opening the country up to international trade. Suzuki & Co., Ltd., Iwai & Co., Ltd., and Japan Cotton Trading Co., Ltd., made Kobe their stage of operations, not only for conducting trade and developing their enterprises, but also to set up countless manufacturing businesses that are still in existence today. It was these achievements which helped lead Meiji- and Taisho-Era Japan into the industrial revolution, with these companies merging to form Sojitz many years later. From reconstruction following the war to Japan’s rapid economic growth and advances in globalization, Sojitz has contributed to the prosperity of Japan and of the world through its contributions to the industrial sector. Sojitz carries on the entrepreneurial spirit of its founders, who include Yone Suzuki and Naokichi Kaneko of Suzuki & Co., Ltd.; Katsujiro Iwai of Iwai & Co., Ltd.; and the wealthy Osaka merchants who would form Japan Cotton Trading Co., Ltd. This diverse group included Shingoro Hirooka, whose life story has been depicted in a recent popular NHK drama series.
Sojitz has more than 60 years of experience acting as the Japanese sales agent for Boeing and Bombardier. Meeting domestic demand for passenger planes has allowed Sojitz to secure the top spot in the world of Japanese aviation. Sojitz is also one of the top exporters of railway cars from Japan, having been contracted for work on a new freight rail in India. (Sojitz received a total JPY 350 billion in contracts, which is the largest yen-based ODA project ever undertaken by a private company.) In terms of ship business, Sojitz leads the industry in ship-owning and sales of ship-related equipment, while Sojitz’s automotive arm has been exporting cars since the 1960s. Today, Sojitz is developing vehicle assembly, wholesale, retail, and financing businesses around the world. Additionally, Sojitz procures and delivers the coal and iron ore to be used in the steel-making process, which is still central to manufacturing in Japan.
In Indonesia, Sojitz is involved in the development of Deltamas City, a massive city which will someday house 250,000 residents. The company is constructing an industrial park within the city, inviting government offices, hospitals, and universities to contribute to the municipality. In Vietnam, Sojitz is expanding the number of Ministop stores in the region as part of its convenience store business. Sojitz’s food distribution and logistics business is helping to capture consumer demand throughout Asia, particularly in countries such as Myanmar and Thailand. In addition, Sojitz has entered the hospital operation business in Turkey. The Ikitelli IHC is one of the largest hospital complexes in the world to be managed in part by a Japanese company. Meanwhile in Japan, Sojitz is involved in promoting its shopping center business and condominium business. Recent years have also seen Sojitz extending business to industries that contribute to daily lives of consumers, such as our SAPUA home water delivery service and our daycare management business.
After the Vietnam War, Sojitz was the first company to establish a liaison office in Hanoi in 1986. Recognizing the contributions Sojitz made toward Vietnam’s economic development in the years following the war, the country granted Sojitz the first goodwill award given to a private company in 2006. Additionally, Sojitz is involved in the afforestation and woodchip business in Vietnam. We have supplied more than 30 million saplings for free, and once they are grown, we turn the timber into chips which are then sold to papermaking companies. As a result, Vietnam has become the world’s top exporter of woodchips today. In India, Sojitz operates large-scale salt fields and serves as an industry leader in selling this industrial salt across the world. Industrial salts are an important chemical resource used to make many of the things we use every day, including plastics, glass, and even soap.
Sojitz is the first Japanese general trading company to enter the tuna farming business with our tuna farm in Takashima, Nagasaki Prefecture. Raised in the Genkai Sea, Takashima’s Bluefin Tuna has received high praise for its robust flavor. We are also engaged in the cultivation of vegetables such as tomatoes and radishes through our agricultural business in Chiba Prefecture, My Vegetable Corporation. In addition, Sojitz has fertilizer businesses in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, commanding a 30-40% share of the advanced chemical fertilizer market. In order to meet the rising demand for food in Asia, Sojitz imports grains from around the world. Sojitz is also developing flour milling businesses in Vietnam and importing wheat and selling packaged bread in Indonesia. Sojitz Group subsidiary Yamazaki Biscuit changed their company name in 2016, introducing a new product: Levain. Another of the company’s products is their Chip Star line of potato chips, which has been one of the company’s most popular products over the years.
Japan Cotton Trading Co., Ltd. would one day go on to become Nichimen, one of Sojitz’s predecessor companies. In its heyday, Japan Cotton Trading procured cotton from around the world and exported a high volume of cotton goods overseas, which contributed to the development of Japan’s spinning and textile industries. Daiichibo, a Sojitz Group company based in Kumamoto, operates Japan’s only vertically-integrated production plant, which covers all production processes from spinning thread all the way up to the final product. After securing a licensing agreement with apparel company McGREGOR in 1965, Sojitz Infinity Inc. helped to create Japan’s fashion scene by bringing the brand to our shores. Currently, they carry a number of brands, such as Rags McGREGOR, Vesvio, Maurizio Baldassari, and Vicomte A. Sojitz GMC also sells sneakers made by English brand Admiral, and holds the master license for American fabric brand Pendleton’s goods in Japan.
Sojitz is helping meet the growing international demand for energy with its crude oil and gas interests in the U.K., the U.S., the Middle East, and Africa. In terms of liquified natural gas, Sojitz Group subsidiary LNG Japan has holdings in Indonesia and Qatar and is a major contributor to Japan’s energy imports, as the country remains the world’s largest importer of LNG.
Sojitz also has mega-solar farms in Germany, Peru, Chile, Mexico, and Japan, and recently began commercial operations of Japan’s fourth largest solar power plant in Rokkasho-mura, Aomori Prefecture.
Sojitz uses new ideas as the basis for creating new value.
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