2-7, Motoakasaka 1–chome
Incorporated: February 22, 1930 as the Kajima Construction Company
Sales: ¥1.021 trillion (US$5.320 billion)
Market Value: ¥1.186 trillion (US$6.177 billion)
Stock Index: Tokyo Osaka Nagoya
The Kajima Corporation is one of the oldest and largest construction companies in Japan. It was founded in 1840 by Iwakichi Kajima, an innovative carpenter and designer. Construction remained the family trade of Kajima’s sons, who witnessed the transformation of Japan from a isolated nation into a developing regional power after the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
The industrial modernization policies of the Meiji government created a demand for newer and larger factories and buildings as well as railroad lines and tunnels. Kajima built the first European-style commercial building in Japan, an office structure for the Hong Kong-based Jardine Matheson & Company, and entered the field of railroad construction in 1880 under the name Kajima Gumi. The company quickly established a reputation for excellence in railroad bed construction and tunneling. As Japanese industry continued to grow, Kajima Gumi completed a greater number of industrial and infrastructural projects.
Kajima Gumi began construction of hydroelectric dams during the 1920’s. Relatively unaffected by the worldwide economic depression, Kajima Gumi became a public company on February 22, 1930, capitalized at three million yen. With the involvement of private stockholders, the company was able to devote more capital to larger projects. With a larger scale of operations, Kajima Gumi became active as an industrial contractor.
Extreme right-wing elements of the Japanese military rose to power during the 1930’s, advocating a neo-mercantilist economy and Japanese colonial domination of East Asia and the western Pacific. As part of their “quasi-war economy,” large industrial projects were undertaken which were intended to augment Japan’s war making capabilities. Like many other Japanese companies, Kajima Gumi attempted to remain divorced from politics. However, because of the nature of its business, and the overwhelming coercive power of the militarists, the company became an active participant in the Japanese was effort.
Japan was so completely devastated by the war that it was largely unable to feed or rebuild itself. This created great opportunities for construction companies such as Kajima Gumi, who were needed to build new structures and repair others which had been damaged.
Kajima Gumi was reorganized under the commercial laws imposed by the Allied occupation commander, and reestablished in 1947 as the Kajima Construction Company. Two years later, the company established the Kajima Institute of Construction Technology (KICT) where new construction materials and engineering technologies could be developed. The Institute, located in Tokyo’s Chuo ward, employed 233 specialists and was the first private research institution of its kind in Japan.
In the early 1950’s Kajima began to design nuclear reactor complexes, which necessitated the expansion of the research institute. In 1956 the Institute was relocated to the Tokyo suburb of Chobu. The following year Kajima built the Number 1 reactor at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute’s Ibarakiken complex.
Kajima completed Japan’s first skyscraper, the 36-story Kasumigaseki Mitsui Building in 1956. Part of that building consisted of a Large Structure Testing (LST) laboratory, which helped Kajima to formulate new technologies for other larger, earthquake-resistant skyscrapers, such as the Shinjuku Mitsui Building (55 stories) and the Sunshine 60 Building (60 stories).
During the 1960’s the company undertook an increasing number of projects outside Japan, constructing buildings and dams in Burma, Vietnam, and Indonesia. After establishing its reputation of excellence overseas, Kajima was chosen to complete a variety of projects in Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
The company’s name was changed to the Kajima Corporation in 1970 to better reflect its international character and wide range of engineering services. New technologies developed by KICT were continually applied, particularly in the area of aseismic structures. The Institute built an “earthquake simulator” in 1974. A year later a hydraulics laboratory was established, which placed Kajima in a leading position among Japanese companies in dam, breakwater, and ocean platform construction.
Kajima was given full responsibility by the East German government to build the International Trade Center Building in East Berlin, free of government restrictions or demands that local companies be involved in the project. This project marked Kajima’s emergence from East Asia. Projects in the United States, Turkey, Algeria, and Zaire followed.
As early as the 1960’s Kajima used shield tunnel borers, but KICT introduced new processes which improved the safety and efficiency of established tunneling methods, using water jets and concrete-spraying robots. Kajima also developed a shield tunnel borer capable of making sharp turns, and it was one of several companies involved in the construction of the 54 kilometer Seikan Tunnel, linking the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.
In 1982 the Kajima Corporation was awarded the Deming Prize for engineering excellence. Since that time it has continually been given recognition for its achievements. Kajima holds almost 1100 Japanese patents, 72 of which are registered in foreign countries.
In addition to its other major construction activities, Kajima is currently building a floating oil storage facility near Nagasaki capable of holding six million kiloliters (32.4 million barrels) of oil. The company is also working on an integrated method for decommissioning aging nuclear power plants, a service which will become increasingly important as nuclear power plants near the end of their 40-year life spans.
Kajima has remained under family management since its inception. Several years ago, however, when Seiichi Kajima’s marriage produced no sons, his daughter Ume married Morino Suke, a career diplomat and scholar who was adopted into the family and given the name Kajima. His first son, Shoichi Kajima, is the company’s current president, and a brother-in-law of both the chairman and honorary chairman.
Due to its years of experience, the Kajima Corporation is extremely competitive in railroad, dam, and other civil engineering projects. It also remains one of the strongest Japanese companies in the overseas markets. Kajima has maintained an excellent financial situation with few liabilities and high earnings. The company’s research institute and continued strength in the construction of nuclear power plants and earthquake-resistant skyscrapers are indispensable assets which should secure the company’s position as Japan’s number one civil engineering firm for many years.
Principal Subsidiaries: Toa Co., Ltd.; Taiko Trading Co., Ltd.; Kajima Road Co., Ltd.; Chemical Grouting Co., Ltd.; Kajima Publishing Co., Ltd.; Kajima Productions, Ltd.; Japan Foundation Engineering Co., Ltd.; Japan Sea Works Co., Ltd.; Kajima Services Co., Ltd.; Sanei Real Estate Co., Ltd.; Hotel Kajima No Mori; Kajima Leasing Corp.; Creative Life Corp.; Yaesu Book Center, Inc.; Ilya Corp.; KOCAMB Co., Ltd.; Kajima Tenant Planning Co., Ltd.; Kajima International, Inc. (USA); East West Development Corp. (USA); Kajima Development Corp. (USA); Kajima Engineering and Construction, Inc. (USA); P.T. Waskita-Kajima Corp.; ChungOLu (Sino-Kajima) Construction Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); Kajima GmbH (West Germany); Thai Kajima Co., Ltd. (Thailand); Kajima Corporation Australia Pty., Ltd. (Australia).
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 1. St. James Press, 1988