1896 Timelines: 1878-1900

Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd. is incorporated. Kojiro Matsukata is appointed as the first president of the new company.

In 1894, seven years after the establishment of Kawasaki Dockyard, the Sino-Japanese War started and the shipbuilding industry in Japan enjoyed sudden prosperity.
Kawasaki was also very busy in receiving and finishing a rush of orders for ship repairs. Realizing the limitation of private management, Kawasaki decided to take the Company public right after the end of the war. Then close to 60 years old, without a son old enough to succeed him, Kawasaki chose Kojiro Matsukata, the third son of his business benefactor, Masayoshi Matsukata, as his successor.

Kojiro Matsukata, born in Satsuma (currently Kagoshima Prefecture) in 1865, became a secretary to Japan’s prime minister during his father’s administration between 1891 and 1892. In 1896, the younger Matsukata was appointed the first president of Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd., and maintained this position for 32 years until 1928. By expanding business into rolling stock, aircraft and shipping, and implementing Japan’s first eight-hour day system and other measures, he nurtured and grew Kawasaki into a leading heavy industrial company in Japan.

Matsukata was also known as an art collector. The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo was established around the core of Matsukata’s private collection. In addition, the Tokyo National Museum houses his extensive collection of Ukiyoe prints.