History Archives


Relationship with Toyota

“Since our establishment your company has consistently contributed to the development and prosperity of the Toyota Motor Corporation. … We present this commendation to express our gratitude for your meritorious deeds.”

Our company’s predecessor, Asai Shoten, started after Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda recommended the company’s independence. We conducted a considerable amount of transactions with Toyota Industries Corporation, and when Sakichi’s son Kiichiro decided to enter into automobile manufacturing, our company actively served. Our company delivered the frame material for Toyota’s first experimental automobile design. Etsujiro Asai occupied an important position as a supplier of materials to Toyota Motors, and in August 1943 he received a work commission from them.
Around 1949, Toyota experienced its greatest managerial difficulties in the post-war period. Etsujiro supplied the company with steel products with the knowledge that he was gambling the entirety of his personal finances. Our company played a role in reviving Japanese industry after the war and in revitalizing Toyota.
Since that time, we have maintained a good relationship with Toyota. We continue to deepen our bonds with Toyota in ways outside of our transactions. Examples include mutual ownership of each other’s shares, in spite of our company not being listed, as well as by having outside officers dispatched.

The “S9CK” JIS Standard is Born

Direct negotiations with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry bear fruit, and the company is JIS certified.

SCK: Steel Only for Carburizing and Hardening (K is the first letter of a Japanese word indicating high-quality, koukyuu). Etsujiro Asai first predicted a shortage of the hardened steel used for the fluted rollers used in textile machines during the war. He then made a development request to Kobe Steel, Ltd. He saw that product quality was not improving, and imported steel from Germany. Etsujiro took the sample to the work area and provided inspiration to the Technology Development Department stating, “This is what I want you to make.” This led to the first manufacture of hardened steel in Japan.
In order to have this “Asai Standard” special ultralow-carbon steel become a JIS standard steel, our company consulted with Kobe Steel, Ltd. and then worked with Toyota Industrial Corporation, Howa Machinery, Ltd. and other textile machine manufacturers to submit multiple petitions to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (current name: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). In July 1949 the special ultralow-carbon steel was successful in receiving JIS certification under the “S9CK” designation.

Thorough Quality Management

Our mottos are “Customer Orientation” and “The Wholesaler with Character.”

Since our company was founded, we have conducted thorough quality management in the spirit of customer-first service. When seeking out the level of quality needed by our business partners, we not only survey material wholesalers by telephone and confirm availability, but we also check the actual product, procure samples as needed, and return with these samples to inspect them at our facilities.
Additionally, in order to meet specification requirements we take the samples to the blacksmith and perform quenching and bending tests. Only when satisfactory results are obtained do we tender an offer. Therefore, unlike other wholesalers our products are delivered after a certain degree of inspections and tests. We possess a sense of responsibility toward quality and employ a system that allows us to compete with confidence.
This tradition of going out to the site and visually confirming the actual product is carried on by our current employees. We continue to provide our customers with products that satisfy in terms of quality.

Blue Steel Association

Ties Between Textile Machinery Manufacturers and Parts Manufacturers

The Blue Steel Association began its activities in 1948. Principal members included Toyota Industries Corporation, Howa Machinery, Nihon Spindle Manufacturing, Nippon Shaft, OKK, Mikuni Boshokki Seiko, and Fukushima Ltd. The name derives from the fact that at the time, special ultralow-carbon steel was marked with blue paint on both ends. The organization engaged in friendly meetings to discuss technologies and share information, and on occasion would act in solidarity with one another.
Working to cope with the steel allocation system started in 1939, the group worked together throughout 1948 and 1949 to submit multiple petitions and requests to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Our company strived to ensure that the textile machine manufacturers were obtaining the necessary amounts of required materials.

Commemorative photograph at the (then) Kobelco Wakinohama Factory (April 1957)

Etsujiro Asai’s Personality

The Sternness and Kindness of the Company Founder

“The ties between people must be valued.” “Regularity is of utmost importance.”
With these mottos, Etsujiro Asai provided his employees with strict guidance in areas including greetings, bowing, and adhering to time requirements. He worked to improve the conscientiousness of his employees in many ways, such as in instructing them to have their pencils and abacuses straight on their desks. He taught that when seeing off a customer, the time until the car is no longer visible or the elevator reaches the destination floor is an expression of “sincerity toward the person.”
While in business Etsujiro Asai was thorough in his approach to customer orientation, he also had a warm-hearted side, and employees trained by him remember his was a “persuasive form of severity.” He never forgot to be thankful to the local area, and made donations to fire-fighting facilities as well as medical equipment and a greenhouse to a convalescent center.

The Beginning of Just-In-Time Deliveries

We were the first steel trading company to adopt the just-in-time delivery system.

After the war steel production facilities were streamlined, and streamlining came to be expected in the steel distribution system as well. Until that time special steel utilized a custom-production system, resulting in problems such as late deliveries and high costs.
Starting with the preparation of a warehouse in Osaka’s Taisho Ward, our company established service centers in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, Ichikawa City in Chiba Prefecture and Takahama City in Aichi Prefecture, and created an inventory system unique to our company. Our company then began a service that delivers good quality special steel manufactured in large quantities by steel manufacturers to customers in the type they require (steel type and variety), when they need it, in the right amounts, “just-in-time” to any designated location in Japan. As our company controls deliveries of products from steel manufacturers, we minimize waste and the space needed to store product in the factory and the warehouse. We have created an environment that allows us to continually procure only what is needed, which contributes to the efficient manufacturing systems of automobile and part manufacturers.

Involvement in Local Areas

Our company never forgets to be thankful to the local area, and proactively contributes to local society.

In 1973, the unveiling ceremony of the “Midori no Sanka” statue was held in conjunction with the customary Osaka Flower Festival held each spring.
This statue was installed in Nakanoshima Park, located on the south side of Osaka City Hall. After the movement to increase greenery in Osaka City began, the statue was realized when (then) Sumitomo Bank President Shozo Hotta brought up the idea of donating a monument to symbolize this movement. The statue expresses founder Etsujiro Asai’s strong desire for Osaka to become a vibrant city.
Shin Hongo, a leading figurative sculptor, created the statue. On the reverse side of the base is an explanatory plaque that is inscribed in the following manner.

This statue, entitled “Midori no Sanka,” was donated by Mr. Etsujiro Asai of Kawanishi City, Hyogo Prefecture in cooperation with the greenery movement in Osaka City. This donation is given as the city moves forward in creating a culture of fragrant and verdant cityscapes.
We are deeply grateful for the kindness we have received, and hope to share in the happiness of all.

With Sincerity and a Passion for Business

Eiji Toyoda
(Etsujiro Asai: Excerpted from Recollections)

On June 5, 1971 a special steel-exclusive warehouse was established in Kinuura, a location convenient for deliveries to all Toyota Group factories. Three of us including then Chairman Ishida, Vice-President Saito and myself were invited to the Completion Party.
Our relationship with Mr. Asai dates back to the founding of Toyota. Not only has he provided us with consistent steel deliveries, he has helped us in a variety of ways.
When our company was first founded and the main office factory was being designed, Mr. Asai came out himself, put on work boots, took up a sickle and helped clear the grounds. That was the first instance, but there were more. Immediately after the war our company faced a period of difficulties, but Mr. Asai fearlessly kept making steel deliveries to us, understanding that he was gambling everything he had. There is no way we could ever forget that.
In 1958, Asai Sangyo implemented a just-in-time delivery system ahead of the rest of the industry. Even if our requests were difficult to implement, each time they worked with Kobe Steel and went to extraordinary lengths to deliver even better quality special steel. For this we are all very grateful.

Photograph of Toyota Motor Corporation President Toyoda and (then) Vice-President Saito at the Kinuura Service Center First Stage Construction Completion Showcase Party (May 1971)