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Sumitomo Electric 120 Years of History

Opened in 1897, our company will celebrate its 120th anniversary next year. We would like to take this opportunity to launch a new project to review our history. In the previous issue, we introduced the history leading to the establishment of our company. This time, we would like to focus on our history over the period of approximately 30 years following the company’s formation.

2nd Round: 1897 – 1930

1897

<Formation>
The Sumitomo Family opens Sumitomo Copper Rolling Works.

1911

The electric wire business is spun off from Sumitomo Copper Rolling Works and becomes independent as Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, which supplies high-voltage underground power cable.

At the factory of Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works
At the factory of Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works

Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works
All the high-voltage underground power cables used in Japan in those days were supplied by overseas sources. Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works was the first company to manufacture Japan-made high-voltage underground power cables.

Photo by courtesy of Sumitomo Historical Archives
Photo by courtesy of Sumitomo Historical Archives

Sumitomo's emblem “Igeta” mark
In 1914, a diamond-shaped igeta (well frame) mark, which is still used for our logo, was registered as the trademark to be used on the company’s products. It is said that this mark began to be used as a symbol of a spring when Riemon Soga opened Izumi-ya (meaning “spring shop” in Japanese), a copper refining and crafting shop, in Kyoto.

1916

Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works constructs a new factory in Okishima (near present-day Shimaya, Konohana Ward, Osaka City), and launches full operations.

The new factory later developed into the present-day Osaka Works, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

1920

Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works is incorporated and reorganized into The Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, Limited.

Stock certificate of The Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, Limited
Stock certificate of The Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, Limited.

Technical tie-up with a U.S. company
Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works was incorporated in order to join forces with Western Electric Co., which was the world’s largest electric wire manufacturer in those days. The Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, Limited. was the third incorporated company of all the Sumitomo Family’s businesses, after The Sumitomo Bank, Ltd.*1 and Sumitomo Casting Works, Ltd.*2 The company was unusual in those days in that it had a foreign auditor, signifying its first step in aiming toward the world from Japan.

*1
Present-day Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
*2
Present-day Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation
1922

The Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, Limited. succeeds in manufacturing and installing a long-distance submarine power cable.

四阪島へケーブルを引揚げるようす
Power cable being lifted up onto Shisakajima Island

The world’s longest submarine cable
The company worked on a big project of installing a submarine power cable between Niihama, Ehime Prefecture, and Shisakajima Island, located at a distance of 21 km away from each other. The submarine power cable was the longest in the world in those days. Experiencing a spate of difficulties, such as suffering a storm and recovering from loss of cable insulation resistance many times, the company finally completed installing the submarine cable more than 20 days later.

1923

The Great Kanto Earthquake occurs.

Supplying electric wire and cable at the prices set before the earthquake
The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 devastated the factories of electric wire manufacturers in the Kanto region. Despite appreciation of the prices of copper and other raw materials, The Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works, Limited., located in the Kansai region and thus not damaged by the earthquake, did not raise its product prices and fulfilled its responsibility as the only Japanese manufacturer that could supply electric wires and cables essential for the reconstruction from the disaster.


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