1897 Sumitomo Copper Rolling Works (Formation of the Company)
Japan took a dramatic turn towards modernization during the Meiji Era. At that time, gaining momentum from the prospering Mt. Besshi Copper Mine, Sumitomo expanded its business into various fields, including electric wires, forestry, coal, construction, machinery, the chemical industry, and the metal-working industry.
Sumitomo Copper Rolling Works, the origin of Sumitomo Electric, was born in 1897 in Osaka. The post-Sino-Japanese War economic downturn caused Nihon Seido Co., Ltd. to fall into dire straits. Sumitomo acquired the company and founded Sumitomo Copper Rolling Works with the belief that shortages of copper products must not occur because they were essential to the modernization of the nation.
Meanwhile, smoke from copper smelters in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture was continuously wreaking fatal damage on agricultural fields and mountain forests. Sumitomo addressed this smoke problem by investing a large amount of money and relocating all the smelters to an uninhabited islet (Shisaka) off the coast of Niihama. While the encouraged rapid industrial development was leading to pollution problems, there were no other cases of pollution problems solved voluntarily on the part of the private sector.
That was an example of the realization of the Sumitomo Spirit “Mutual prosperity, respect for the public good.” We have been adhering to this spirit for years: “Sumitomo’s business must benefit not only Sumitomo itself but also the nation and society in general.”
(Photo courtesy of Sumitomo Historical Archives)