The History of Furukawa Co., Ltd. Inheriting the technologies and spirit cultivated through copper mine operation and smelting business.

Let us introduce the history of Furukawa Co., Ltd. which has been developed along with the history of Japan.

The History of Furukawa Co.,Ltd

Meiji Era Column1
The history of Furukawa Co., Ltd. dates back to 1875 when the founder, ichibee Furukawa began the copper mine operation, and since then, we have advanced with the modernization of Japan. From around 1900, our business began centering on the copper mine operation. We worked to innovate technologies with mining machines, such as imported rock drills, and owing to these technologies, the Ashio Copper Mine leaped ahead by producing the largest amount of copper in Japan. In the course of its development, a number of Furukawa Group companies were born.
During the Meiji Era, copper mine development became governmentally regulated and since the famous Ashio copper mine’s pollution was rising in the area along the Watarase River in 1891, the copper mine operation faced a possible shutdown. We, however, applied the latest technologies available at that time and made every effort to preserve the best possible environment in order to solve the problem. In a manner of speaking, Ashio became the starting point for environmental measures implemented in Japan, and pollution prevention and by-product collection technologies developed in the process of solving the problem are invaluable assets that have been passed down to today.

The History of Furukawa Co., Ltd The History of JAPAN



・The Meiji Restoration




・Clans were abolished and Prefectures were established




・Railway opened between Shimbashi and Yokohama


・Began the operation of the Kusakura Copper Mine in Niigata (Company foundation)



・Began the operation of the Ashio Copper Mine in Tochigi

The Ashio Copper Mine is where the Furukawa Company Group began. At that time in Japan, industries had not yet fully developed so operation of copper mines was essential.




・The Tokyo Stock Exchange opened



・The Bank of Japan was founded


・The Ashio Copper Mine produced the largest amount of copper in Japan Comparison of amount of copper produced in copper mines around 1884



・Began using rock drills to excavate mine cavity

For the operation of copper mines, the latest technologies were imported from Europe and the U.S.A.. The rock drill was one of such technologies and the Ashio Copper Mine was one of the first places to start using them in Japan.




・The use of electric lighting began for the public


・Set up the Manufacturing Section at the Ashio Copper Mine and began machinery repair and manufacturing




・The Constitution of the Empire of Japan was promulgated



・Ashio copper mine pollution case


・Began the operation of the Shimo-Yamada Coal Mine in Fukuoka and entered into the coal business




・Long distance telephone service began between Tokyo and Osaka


・Set up a machinery works at the Ashio Copper Mine and entered into the machinery business



・Furukawa & Co. was founded. Shifted from private management to a corporate structure



・Completed Hosoo Electric Power Generating Station in Nikko in Tochigi




・The first Japanese gasoline-driven car was developed


・Changed the organization to Furukawa General Partnership


Taisho Era Column2
The Taisho Era saw significant improvements in labor conditions of workers after the labor disputes that took place at the end of the Meiji Era.
At Furukawa Co., Ltd., applying the technologies cultivated through the maintenance of imported rock drills, we developed the first domestic hand-held rock drill (Ashio-type, No.3 rock drill). This was the start of our rock drill business. During the same period, we began developing pumps for slurry transportation at copper mines and coal pits.
Around this time, owing to the heavy industry expanded due to the First World War, a number of companies were established in Japan. In 1918, the predecessor of the current Furukawa Company Group, Furukawa Mining Co., Ltd. was established and the technologies and products developed at the Ashio Copper Mine were applied in a wide range of fields by Furukawa Mining Co., Ltd.
However, in 1920 - immediately after Furukawa became a company limited by shares, the depression attacked the Japanese economy. Our company, like all others during this period suffered and we were forced to close unprofitable mines, but we utilized what we had through the rationalization of management.

The History of Furukawa Co., Ltd The History of JAPAN


・Manufactured the first rock drill in Japan

The first domestic rock drill was developed at Ashio. Because imported rock drills were too large and difficult to handle, development of a small rock drill that could accommodate the physique of Japanese operators had been expected.

・Railway opened between Tokyo and Yokohama
・World War I (- 1918)


・Spun off the mining business from Furukawa General Partnership and established Furukawa Mining Co., Ltd.



・Established The Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. through investment in kind to Nikko Electric Copper Refinery

・Postwar backlash depression



・The Great Kanto Earthquake



・Radio broadcasting began

Showa Era Column3
In the midst of a tough economic situation including the Great Depression, Japan advanced towards the war between other countries. During the war, everyone in Japan had to cooperate in the war effort. In the government-controlled economy, the government controlled copper production and coal industries for the production of war supplies, and decided to increase production. To meet this demand, we reorganized the businesses and invested further into equipment and facilities by increasing capital.After the war, we developed further as the Japanese economy recovered. In the late 1950s, the demand for coal drastically dropped due to the energy revolution and the main energy source started shifting from coal to oil. Consequently we withdrew from the coal business in 1970, and as import liberalization began, the volume of imported ores was increasing and copper veins were depleting leading us to close the Ashio Copper Mine in 1973. These events made us shift the focus of our Metals Segment from mining to smelting, as it now had to compete with overseas manufacturers.
At the same time, we began focusing on the growing fields of machinery and electronic materials. Possessing products such as rock drills and pumps developed by utilizing mining technologies accumulated over the years was a great advantage to us.
In 1987, the UNIC Corporation, a manufacturer of truck-mounted cranes, became a member of our group through M&A. Despite Japan’s economic growth, infrastructure development was lagging so our products were appreciated and used in many infrastructure construction sites.
As well, our Research and Development Division was continuously researching effective uses of by-products generated during copper smelting process. High-purity metallic arsenic developed in 1962 is a material indispensable in the production of semiconductors and has grown to be the anchor product of the Electronic Materials Segment.

The History of Furukawa Co., Ltd The History of JAPAN



・The Great Depression


・Furukawa General Partnership was merged with Furukawa MiningCo., Ltd. to form the basis of the current management

・The Pacific War (-1945)


・Went semi-public
・Spun off the machinery business from Ashio Mining to establish Ashio Manufacturing



・Bought Osaka Smelter of Toa Chemical Smelting Co., Ltd. and established it as Osaka Cementation and Refining. Entered into the chemical business
・Built the Oyama Works of the Machinery Division of the Ashio Copper Mine in Tochigi

At the Oyama Works, pumps and mining machinery for copper mines were manufactured, not only for internal use but also to sell externally.




・The Constitution of Japan was promulgated


・Built the Takasaki Works of the Rock Drill Division in Gunma

At the Takasaki Works, rock drills were massproduced and we established the position of a leading rock drill manufacturer.



・Began manufacturing of Titanium Dioxide and cuprous oxide at the Osaka Cementation and Refining




・Television broadcasting began


・Imported flash smelting technology from Outokumpu in Finland



・Completed flash smelting plant at Ashio Smelting and Refining




・Iwato economic growth (- 1961)


・Began sales of petroleum



・Began manufacturing of concentrated sulfuric acid at Osaka Cementation and Refining



・Completed the Furukawa/Outokumpu flash smelting plant at Ashio Smelting and Refining
・Completed development and began sales of bowling facilities

A huge bowling boom took place in Japan at that time. We manufactured bowling facilities and provided healthy entertainment.

・Began manufacturing of crawler shovels at the Oyama Works

・Completed research and development of high-purity (99.999%) metallic arsenic and commenced with the sale of it

Arsenic is one of the by-products generated during the smelting stage of copper concentrates. It started getting attention as a semiconductor material around this time.

・The first Metropolitan Expressway opened



・The Kurobe dam completed



・The Tokaido Shinkansen railway opened
・The Tokyo Olympics were held



・Izanagi economic growth (- 1970)



・The Tomei Expressway opened
・Apollo 11 landed on the moon


・Withdrew from the coal business

・The Osaka Expo was held


・Built the Yoshii Works of the Bowling Division in Gunma
・Began manufacturing of wheel loaders at the Oyama Works

A large volume of our wheel loaders were exported as well and helped spread our name around the world.



・Built the Iwaki Works of the Electronic Materials Division in Fukushima and Hino Research Laboratory in Hino City in Tokyo
・Changed the English company name to Furukawa Co., Ltd.



・Discontinued the Mining Division of the Ashio Plant (closed the Ashio Copper Mine)
・Built the Mibu Works of the Construction Machinery Division in Tochigi

・The yen was allowed to float
・Oil crisis



・Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation began automobile telephone service



・The sewage system coverage rate exceeded 30%



・The Chuo Expressway opened



・The Kan-etsu Expressway opened


・Began development and manufacturing of multistory parking systems
・Expanded the high-purity metallic arsenic manufacturing facility at the Iwaki Works

・The bubble economy (- 1991)


・Entered into the business of aluminum foil chemicals for electrolytic capacitors
・Bought UNIC Corporation (manufacturer for truck-mounted cranes)

“UNIC” has become a synonym for truck-mounted cranes in Japan. UNIC Corporation (then Kyoei Kaihatsu Co., Ltd.) entered the Group and the name was changed to Furukawa UNIC Corporation two years later.

・Took over the Manufacturing Division of UNIC Corporation and established it as the Sakura Works

・The Tohoku Expressway opened


・The Seikan Tunnel opened and the Seto Ohashi Bridge opened

Heisei Era Column4
In 1989, we changed the company name from Furukawa Mining Co., Ltd. to Furukawa Co., Ltd. and made a fresh start. In 1990 when the burst of the bubble devastated the Japanese economy, economic circumstances surrounding companies dramatically changed. Under this severe condition, companies further improved technological capabilities and promoted global business development in order to survive. We restructured the organization through the selection and concentration of the businesses and accelerated global expansion of the Machinery Segment. We launched rock drill sales companies and UNIC machinery manufacturers overseas one after another. In regards to materials, we enhanced and improved facilities for high-purity metallic arsenic. We also enhanced our research system, for example, by integrating the development divisions of metals, electronics and chemicals, and newly establishing the Materials Research Laboratory in order to develop new materials through the unification of technologies.
In 2005, we spun off businesses and adopted a Group management system, and began as the Furukawa Company Group. This made it possible for us to make decisions more quickly and based on the characteristics of each business, to conduct agile management. Through this endeavor, we are making efforts to maximize the corporate value of the whole Group.

The History of Furukawa Co., Ltd The History of JAPAN


・The Japanese name changed from Furukawa Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha to Furukawa Kikai Kinzoku Kabushiki Kaisha

・Consumption tax was introduced


・Bought an American breaker manufacturer




・The economy bubble burst



・The five-day-week system at school began



・The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake


・Established a copper smelting company, Port Kembla Copper Pty. Ltd. in Australia
・Established a manufacturer of UNIC products/components, Furukawa UNIC (Thailand) Co., Ltd. in Thailand

This is an affiliate company for the UNIC business established in Rayong, Thailand, which manufactures truck-mounted cranes and other products.

・The world’s first mass-produced hybrid cars were released


・Established a sales company of rock drill products, Furukawa Rock Drill Europe B.V. in Holland

This is an affiliate company for the construction and mining machinery business established in Utrect, Holland, which distributes rock drills and other products.

・Newly established the Materials Research Laboratory for Metals and Electronic Chemicals-related researches



・Moved the Materials Research Laboratory to Tsukuba City in Ibaraki

This laboratory conducts research and development related to electronic materials and chemical technologies, and semiconductor substrate processing technologies.



・Newly established the Product Research Laboratory as an organization for new product development and the Techno-Research Laboratory for Machinery-related researches

・IT bubble burst



・9.11 attack
・The sewage system coverage rate exceeded 60%


・Integrated the Research & Planning Laboratory and the Product Research Laboratory to re-organize it as the R&D Planning Department
・Newly established the Semiconductor Growth System Department as a research organization for Compound Semiconductors

・The FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan was held


・Established a sales company of rock drill products, Furukawa Rock Drill Korea Co., Ltd. in Korea
・Merged Furukawa Real Estate Co., Ltd. and established the Real Estate Division
・Established Taian Furukawa Machinery Co., Ltd. - a joint company for the manufacturing and distribution of UNIC cranes in China

This is an affiliate company for the UNIC business established in Taian, Shandong, China, which manufactures and distributes truckmounted cranes and other products.

・Spun off and assigned the casting business to Furukawa Castec Co., Ltd.



・Spun off the Machinery business, Metals business and Electronic Materials and Chemicals business and shifted to a group management structure as the Furukawa Company Group to enhance the management

・The Kyoto Protocol came into effect


・Established a rock drills sales company, Furukawa Rock Drill (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. in China

This is an affiliate company which deals with the construction and mining machinery business established in Shanghai, China and distributes rock drills and other products.

・Assigned the general machinery business to Otsuka Iron Works, Ltd. from Furukawa Industrial Machinery Systems Co., Ltd. and changed the company name to Furukawa Otsuka Co., Ltd.



・Furukawa Rock Drill Co., Ltd. formed a business alliance with Mitsubishi Materials Corporation for the construction machinery and tool business for mining and civil engineering
・Formed a capital and business alliance for the GaN semiconductor epi wafer business with POWDEC K.K.

・Mobile phone/PHS subscriptions exceeded 100 million


・Furukawa Industrial Machinery Systems Co., Ltd. merged with Furukawa Otsuka Co., Ltd.
・Newly setup the Nitride Semiconductors Department as a gallium nitride and related nitride semiconductor-related research organization
・Spun off the Fuels business and assigned it to Furukawa Commerce Co., Ltd.

・Global recession due to the financial crisis


・Made TOHPE Corporation is the consolidated subsidiary for manufacturing and distributing paints and chemicals



・Get a copper mine interests of Canada.



・Established a sales company of rock drill products, Furukawa Rock Drill India Pvt. Ltd. in India.



・Established a sales company of rock drill products, Furukawa Rock Drill Latin America S.A. in Panama.
・Established a sales company of UNIC products, LLC Furukawa Unic Rus. in Russia
・Withdrew from the Fuels business.



・Withdrew from the Paints business.



・Completed a buiding, Muromachi Furukawa Mitsui Building in Nihonbashi Tokyo.
・Established a manufacturer of coil,FD COIL PHILIPPINES,INC in Philippines.
・Newly setup Tukuba Development Center as research and development institution in Ibaraki.