KHI HISTORY

The Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) story began back in 1878 when Shozo Kawasaki established a Tsukiji Shipyard in Tokyo.

Today, Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) is a massive global company. Kawasaki Heavy Industries manufactures an extensive line-up of products that demonstrate technological excellence of the land, sea, air and even space. The Group’s unique ability to cover a broad range of businesses is also demonstrated by such world famous consumer products as Kawasaki-brand motorcycles, ATVs, Mule utility vehicles and Jet Ski personal watercrafts.

1878

1878

Shozo Kawasaki, the founder open Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard (Tokoyo) Kawasaki’s origins go back to 1878, when Shozo Kawasaki established Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard in Tokyo. Eighteen years later, in 1896, it was incorporated as Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd. Born in Kagoshima to a kimono merchant, Shozo Kawasaki became a tradesman at the age of 17 in Nagasaki, the only place in Japan then open to the West. He started a shipping business in Osaka at 27, which failed when his cargo ship sank during a storm. In 1869, he joined a company handling sugar from Ryukyu (currently Okinawa Prefecture), established by…

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1896

1896

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…

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1897

1897

Launches Cargo-Passenger Ship Iyomaru In 1897, Kawasaki Dockyard completed a cargo-passenger ship, Iyomaru (727 GT), its first ship after becoming a publicly traded company. During the 10 years of private management between 1886 and 1896, the Company built 80 new ships, including six steel ships such as Tamamaru (about 570 GT). Since the first steel ship was built in Japan in 1890, ship material had rapidly modernized from iron to steel. The beginning of Kawasaki Dockyard is thus the beginning of Japan’s modern shipbuilding industry.

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1902

1902

Finishes Construction on Dry Dock at Kobe Shipyard Shozo Kawasaki had fully realized that the Company’s shipyard needed a drastic increase in capacity since Kawasaki Dockyard was established in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. He planned to construct a dry dock by reclaiming land next to the shipyard. In 1892, a land survey began, and in 1895, boring tests were carried out. After the incorporation of Kawasaki Dockyard, Kojiro Matsukata pursued the plan. Construction work faced rough going due to the extremely weak foundations of the site on the Minatogawa River delta. After a couple of failures, a new technique was…

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1906

1906

Opens Hyogo Works Kawasaki’s first president, Kojiro Matsukata, had a strong desire to expand into new business areas. One especially promising new business would be the manufacture of railway cars. In 1906, the newly opened Hyogo Works began fabrication of locomotives, freight and passenger cars and bridge girders. This is also the year that Kawasaki began production of marine steam turbines at its dockyard.

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1906

1906

Builds the First Submarine in Japan The Japanese Navy began to think about introducing submarines around 1901, and it decided to form a submarine corps soon after the start of the Russo-Japanese War. In 1904, five Holland type submarines, Submarines No. 1 to 5, were imported from the United States. At the same time, the Navy decided to build submarines in Japan. In 1904, it awarded an order for the first two to Kawasaki. Although the Navy provided plans made by J. P. Holland, the designer of Holland type submarines, the details were left to the Company. Kawasaki devoted all…

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1908

1908

Builds the Yodo, Japan’s first large-size warship built by a private Japanese shipyard. After the naval battle that decided Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese government made plans to strengthen its naval force by domestically manufacturing its large fleet vessels, all of which were previously manufactured abroad. Whereas private shipyards had received government orders for small vessels, such as early destroyers and torpedo boats, they would now also receive orders for large-size vessels. Built by Kawasaki Dockyard, the dispatch boat Yodo was the first 100-ton warship built by a private shipyard and was highly praised by naval officials. It…

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1911

1911

Completes the first Kawasaki-made Locomotive. In 1872, U.K.-made steam locomotives ran for the first time on Japan’s first railway line between Shinagawa and Yokohama. Kawasaki started manufacturing rolling stock in 1907, and 4 years later produced its first steam locomotive, the Tender type locomotive (2B saturation steam type, No.6700-6704), for the Ministry of Railways. Its performance was highly acclaimed and the Ministry later praised the Company, saying that its locomotive had done even better than those made in foreign countries. Kawasaki manufactured 3,237 steam locomotives in total until 1971, greatly contributing to the development of railways in Japan.

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1918

The Aircraft Department is established at Hyogo Works. In London at the time, Matsukata was impressed by the use of airplanes in World War I and established the Aircraft Department at the Hyogo Works in 1918. It was just a short 15 years since the Wright brothers’ historic flight when airplanes were still made from wood and cloth and could only travel short distances. In 1922, the Company began manufacturing aircraft and established a new aircraft plant. Kawasaki went on to build Japan’s first metal aircraft, thereby laying the groundwork for the technological innovations of today.

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1919

Shipping division is spun off and incorporated as Kawasaki Kisen Kaisya Ltd. (K-line).

1922

1922

Completes the first Kawasaki-made airplane. In 1922, Kawasaki completed its first airplane at its Hyogo works, and conducted test flights in Sohara Village (currently Kakamigahara City), Gifu Prefecture. The Japanese Army admitted its excellence based on the test flights, and adopted it for the first military plane, the Type Otsu 1 surveillance plane. Kawasaki manufactured about 300 planes of this type until 1927.

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1926

1926

Constructs Eitaibashi Bridge, Tokyo. In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake hit Tokyo and bridges across the Sumidagawa River collapsed. Kawasaki constructed replacement bridges such as the Kiyosubashi Bridge, Shirahigebashi Bridge and Eitaibashi Bridge, which became well known for their elaborate designs. Kawasaki utilized state-of-the-art technology for these bridges. For example, it adopted high-tensile steel (Ducol steel), made at the Company’s Hyogo Works, for the first time in Japan for the upper cables of the Kiyosubashi, an elegant suspension bridge, and for the lower connections of the Eitaibashi, a massive steel arch bridge. In that era, Kawasaki received orders from the…

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1928

Hyogo Works is spun off and incorporated as Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

1933

1933

Begins manufacture and sale of Rokkogo automobiles. In 1918, Kawasaki started manufacturing trucks at Hyogo Works to meet the social needs of the day, however, production was suspended until 1929, when the Company (Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing) resumed manufacturing automobiles. In 1931, the prototype of a 1.5 ton truck was completed based on a U.S. deluxe model, and the next year Kawasaki started producing Rokkogo trucks and buses. In 1933, it also began manufacturing classy Rokkogo passenger cars for such customers as the Imperial family. Although the Company stopped producing automobiles in 1942 by order of the Department of War, which intended…

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1934

1934

Delivers Pashina Locomotive for Ajiago Super Express. The Company (Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing) exported a large number of locomotives, passenger coaches and freight cars to China. Among them were the state-of-the-art locomotives of the day, Pashina type steam locomotives pulled the Ajiago super express linking Dalian and Changchun, China. The number “1500” was painted on in commemoration of the 1500th steam locomotive made by Kawasaki.

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1937

Aircraft division is spun off and incorporated as Kawasaki Aircraft Co., Ltd.

1939

Adopts new Japanese company name Kawasaki Jukogyo Kabusikigaisya (i.e. Kawasaki Heavy Industries). The English company name Kawasaki Dockyard was changed to Kawasaki Heavy Industries in 1969, when three companies were merged.

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1941

1941

Starts production of Hien fighter. During World War II, the Company (Kawasaki Aircraft) manufactured the type 3-1 fighter Hien, the only liquid-cooled fighter developed in Japan during the war. Hien was known for its world-class performance, with a maximum speed of 610 km/h and the capability to fly in formation even at an altitude of 10,000m.

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1950

Steelmaking division is spun off and Kawasaki Steel Corporation is incorporated.

1952

1952

Begins production of Bell 47D helicopters. Japan’s aircraft industry, which mainly manufactured military airplanes, was suppressed when World War II ended in 1945. Production of aircraft was prohibited for seven years until 1952 when the Treaty of Peace with Japan became effective. Even after the prohibition was lifted, the industry faced difficulties in restoring business due to the seven-year blank. However, Kawasaki started designing of a four-seat transporter at Gifu Works, and in 1953 completed the KAL-1 transport airplane. In addition, Kawasaki focused on developing helicopters at Akashi Works. In 1952, the Company signed a technical agreement with Bell Aircraft…

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1969

1969

Kawasaki Dockyard, Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing and Kawasaki Aircraft merge to become Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. In the 1960s, at the beginning of Japan’s high economic growth era, large-scale mergers between companies were booming, aimed at strengthening their international competitiveness, which accelerated consolidation in various industries. Amid these circumstances, Masashi Isano, president of Kawasaki Dockyard, conceived the idea of creating a great Kawasaki enterprise by merging major group companies. This was based on his long-held dream to raise the Company to a comprehensive heavy industrial enterprise providing products for endeavors on land, at sea, and in the air, which first…

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1969

1969

Develops Kawasaki-Unimate 2000, the first Japan-made industrial robot Kawasaki regarded the development and production of labor-saving machines and systems as an important mission, and became Japan’s pioneer in the industrial robot field. In 1968, the Company (Kawasaki Aircraft) entered into a technical agreement with Unimation Inc., a U.S. company specializing in industrial robots, and began development work. In 1969, the Company succeeded in developing the Kawasaki-Unimate 2000, the first industrial robot ever produced in Japan.

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1969

1969

Launches H1 motorcycle. Following the Kawasaki W series, Japan’s largest motorcycle of the day, which initiated the big bike boom, the Company introduced an epoch-making new model, the H1 (2-stroke, 3-cylinder, 498 cm3) in 1969. In that era, large motorcycles were mostly produced by European makers, who dominated the U.S. market as well. However, exports of Japanese motorcycles with large engine displacements were expected to grow dramatically. Amid such an environment, the success of the H1 confirmed Kawasaki’s big bike reputation and position in the U.S. market. Among the H1’s outstandingly unique attributes were awesome power and high performance, an…

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1972

1972

Unveils Z1 motorcycle. In 1972, the Company unveiled Japan’s largest motorcycle of the day, the Kawasaki Z1, featuring an air-cooled, 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, 903 cm3, DOHC engine, which was Kawasaki’s first 4-stroke engine with a state-of-the-art, unique mechanism. Code-named “New York Steak” as early as in the development stage, the Z1 became a “mouth-watering motorcycle,” winning overwhelming popularity immediately after its introduction, and becoming a long-term bestseller. The Z1, a pioneer of Supersport models, not only solidified Kawasaki’s reputation in large motorcycles, but remains deeply engraved in the public conscience as one of the most superlative models to date.

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1972

Merges with rolling stock company Kisha Seizo Co., Ltd., and forms Kawaju Reinetsu Service Co., Ltd. Through its merger with Kisha Seizo Co., Ltd., the Company became Japan’s leader in the rolling stock industry. That same year, it also formed Kawaju Reinetsu Service Co., Ltd. Operations also expanded into the field of municipal refuse incineration. The 20th century ushered in incredible technological advances. Kawasaki foresaw the need to apply advanced technologies and engineering expertise to large-scale projects worldwide.

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1973

1973

Begins selling Jet Ski Watercraft Kawasaki sought to develop a new product powered by a gasoline engine other than motorcycles in order to expand its consumer product business. In 1971, management decided to enter the marine recreational product field and a Marine Project Team was formed at the Company. During team discussions, the concept of a new product gradually took shape. A product in a completely new category, which enables people to enjoy waterskiing, a popular marine sport of the day, by themselves, without a boat-that became the basic concept of the Jet Ski watercraft. In 1973, at Akashi Works, Kawasaki…

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1975

1975

Begins production of motorcycles in the U.S. The Company (Kawasaki Aircraft) started full-scale motorcycle business in 1960, and forged ahead in the U.S. market in the late 1960s. Motorcycle sales subsidiaries were set up in Chicago in 1966 and in New Jersey the next year. In 1968, Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) was established by merging the two companies, and it aggressively promoted sales. In addition to strengthening its sales network, the Company introduced successful new motorcycles such as the H1 in 1969, and the Z1 in 1972, which made Kawasaki a household name in the U.S. In that era,…

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1976

1976

Develops GPS200 gas turbine generator. Utilizing its technology and experience in aircraft jet engines, Kawasaki pioneered Japan’s gas turbine generator business. In 1972, the Company started developing industrial gas turbines based on its proprietary design. In 1976, the Kawasaki GPS200, Japan’s first gas turbine generator, was produced and it attained type approval under the Fire Services Act. The next year, in 1977, the GPS200 won the Minister of Construction prize, top prize at the Electric Equipment Industry Exhibition. Kawasaki went on to expand Japan’s market for gas turbine generators. The Company also developed proprietary cogeneration systems, the GPC series, in 1983.

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1979

1979

The BK117 helicopter’s first flight. In 1977, Kawasaki started developing the BK117, a multipurpose twin-engine helicopter, with MBB (currently Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH) of Germany, and production began in 1982. The BK117, the first helicopter ever developed in Japan, offers a high standard of safety featuring twin engines, and easier operation using a jointless rotor system. Advanced technology also enables instrument flights even in inclement weather.

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1981

1981

Delivers the first LNG carrier built in Japan. Kawasaki not only aggressively pursued orders for VLCCs (very large crude-oil carriers) and other oil tankers, but also conducted R&D activities to develop high-value-added ships. One example is its LNG (liquefied natural gas) carriers. In 1971, Kawasaki entered into a technical agreement with Moss Rosenberg Verft A.S. of Norway and accelerated the development of LNG Carriers. In 1981, at the Sakaide Works, the Company delivered the Golar Spirit (129,000m3, 93,815 GT), the first LNG carrier ever built in Japan.

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1986

Begins production of rolling stock in the U.S.

1988

Begins production of construction machinery in the U.S.

1989

1989

Receives orders for construction work on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Spanning the Strait of Akashi, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world at the time of its construction, with a total length of 3,910 meters and a distance between the two main towers of 1,990 meters. Kawasaki was the main contractor for the tower on the Awajishima Island side-283 meters tall and over 25,000 tons-which fully utilized its advanced technology for steel structures. The Company also produced and installed stiffening girders. The bridge opened in spring 1998.

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1991

1991

Tunnel boring machines successfully complete work on the Eurotunnel. In July 1987, Kawasaki received an order for two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) with diameters of 8.17 meters for the underwater railroad for the Channel Tunnel linking Great Britain and the European continent. These machines were to excavate part of the two underwater tunnels from the coast of Sangatte in Northern France to the British coast. Due to the chalk strata on the French coast partly leaking with some faults, a sudden inflow of high-pressure water was expected during construction. In addition to these complex strata 40 meters under the sea…

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1996

1996

Excavation on the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line is completed by the world’s largest shield machines During the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line construction, eight shield machines were used to excavate the underwater tunnel on the Kawasaki City side. Kawasaki manufactured three shield machines out of those, with a diameter of 14.14m – the largest class in the world. 1,200 cutter bits, made of ultra-hard alloy, excavated the earth with the cutter face fully rotating once every 2.5 minutes. Completely automated machines enabled single man operation, adopting Kawasaki’s proprietary automated system to assemble segments, or the blocks formed of reinforced concrete to be placed…

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1996

100th Anniversary

2001

2001

Opens state-of-the-art, fully integrated rolling stock factory unique in the U.S. In 2001, the Company opened the U.S.’s first fully integrated rolling stock factory inside Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. U.S.A. (KMM)’s Lincoln Plant in Nebraska, with production beginning the following year. The layout of the new factory, which occupies a 40,000 m2 structure at the KMM Lincoln Plant’s 1.36 km2 facility, has fabrication and outfitting lines that stretch 480 meters and which integrate body fabrication, testing, painting and outfitting in a single stream from entrance to exit. Because the factory uses rubber-wheeled and air-lift trucks to maneuver production cars within…

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2001

Introduces an internal company system and an executive officer system.

2002

Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation and Kawasaki Precision Machinery Ltd. are established as wholly owned subsidiaries.

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2004

2004

Ships first 700T train to Taiwan High Speed Rail The Taiwan Shinkansen Corporation (TSC), comprising seven Japanese companies including Kawasaki, shipped the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation its first 12-car high-speed train. Taiwan High Speed Rail is the first overseas project to use Japan’s Shinkansen technology, and the 700T-model train is the first Shinkansen train ever shipped overseas. The 700T, based on the 700-series Shinkansen train jointly developed by Central Japan Railway Company and Western Japan Railway Company, has been optimally configured for Taiwanese geography, climate, legal regulations, and so forth. It has a maximum speed of 300 km/h and…

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2005

Kawasaki Plant Systems, Ltd. (K Plant) is established as a wholly owned subsidiary.

2006

Kawasaki Environmental Engineering, Ltd. (KEE) is established as a wholly owned subsidiray.

2007

K Plant and KEE merge to form new K Plant.

2007

2007

Rolls out test planes for the XP-1 fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft and XC-2 transport aircraft In 2007, test planes for fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft (XP-1) and transport aircraft (XC-2) were rolled out at its Gifu Works. In 2001 Kawasaki had been designated the primary contractor for the XP-1 and XC-2 by the Ministry of Defense. The project to develop the XP-1 and XC-2, initiated by the Ministry of Defense in 2001, was the first domestic program to develop large-size aircraft since the C-1 forty years earlier, and the first-ever Japanese effort to work on two such aircraft simultaneously. Following testing…

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2009

KCM Corporation is established as a wholly owned subsidiary.

2010

Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation, Kawasaki Precision Machinery Limited (KPM) and Kawasaki Plant Systems, Ltd. (K Plant) are re-merged into Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.

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2013

Established Medicaroid Corporation, a marketing company for the development of medical robots, jointly with SYSMEX CORPORATION.

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2015

All KCM Corporation shares transferred to the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group.