First PeriodFrom the founding of the Company to the end of the WWII

Let’s build a major industrial port between Osaka and Kobe. President Kamesaburo Yamashita launched a project.

Founding of the Company

Toyo Construction was born in Naruohama, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, which is located about midway between Osaka and Kobe. The President of Yamashita Steamship Co., Mr. Kamesaburo Yamashita, noted the potential of this area as early as Japan’s Taisho Period (1912-1926). On July 3, 1929, Mr. Yamashita established the Hanshin Port Construction Co., which is the predecessor of today’s Toyo Construction, with joint funding by Yamashita Steamship Co. and the South Manchuria Railway Co., Ltd. (Manchuria Railway) for the purpose of building a major industrial port.

At a glance, the two companies may appear to have no mutual contact. However, President Yamashita happened to meet Mr. Jotaro Yamamoto, Chairman of the Manchuria Railway, aboard a ship bound for Dalian, China and mentioned the Naruo Reclamation Project. This strange turn of fate led to the participation of the Manchuria Railway.

  • Mr. Kamesaburo Yamashita

  • Happi coats from the time of the Company’s foundation.

Until that time, Japan had depended imports of iron and steel. However, Chairman Yamamoto of the Manchuria Railway conceived the idea of improving Japan’s international trade balance by developing coal and iron ore in Manchuria, shipping these resources to Japan for processing, and thereby transforming steel into a Japanese export industry. Naruohama offered excellent siting conditions for realizing this concept, as it is located approximately midway between the two large urban areas of Osaka and Kobe, and also adjoins the Amagasaki industrial zone, which was a large consumer of pig iron.

The Manchuria Railway later withdrew from management of the company due to the Manchurian Incident (1931) and other circumstances, but since many Japanese construction companies were founded by individuals, this was undoubtedly a unique beginning.

Drawing showing the location of the Hanshin Port Construction Co. Reclamation Project.

The main events
July 3, 1929 Establishment of Hanshin Port Construction Co. with Mr. Kamesaburo Yamashita as President.

Start of Construction of Naruo Project, Interruption, and Advance into Contracting Business

Following the establishment of the Company, Hanshin Port Construction devoted its full efforts to obtaining approval to start construction of the Naruo Project, but permission was greatly delayed. Therefore, in order to utilize its human resources and ships and other equipment, the Company decided to advance into the contracting business.

Where human resources were concerned, simultaneously with establishment, the Company received an engineer from the Ministry of Home Affairs and also established a system that attached priority to technology by adding two technicians. During this period, large-scale dredging, reclamation, and port and harbor construction, which require very large machinery, were mainly performed as construction work under the direct control of government agencies. The fact that Hanshin Port Construction obtained an engineer and technicians from the Ministry of Home Affairs when the company was founded demonstrated an attitude that prioritized technology, and laid the foundation for establishing and expanding trust in the Company’s technical capabilities within a short time thereafter.

  • Scene at the site of Naruo Project.

  • Revetment works at Naruo.

  • Naruo-maru dredger.

  • Reclamation work at the site of the Saeki Flying Corps (Oita Pref.)

All the approvals necessary for construction of the Naruo Project were received in March 1933, and the ground-breaking ceremony was held in October of the same year. Thus, it was finally possible to begin construction about 4 years after the Company was established. However, following the outbreak of the Sino-Chinese War, Japan was placed on a war footing. The Naruo Project was judged to be nonessential and non-urgent, fund-raising became difficult, and the Company had no choice but to suspend the project in November of 1938. It may be noted that the suspended project was not resumed until 1966, after an interval of almost 30 years.

On the other hand, although the Hanshin Port Construction Co. entered the contracting business in response to unavoidable circumstances, the Company received orders for a number of large-scale reclamation projects, beginning with reclamation of about 1.65 million m2 at Saiki Bay under contract from the Ministry of the Navy of Japan. The Company also carried out the 2nd reclamation project for the Tokyo Air Base (Tokyo City) at the site of the present-day Haneda Airport, construction of the Yokkaichi Shipyard shipbuilding berths (Uraga Dock Co., Mie Pref.), reclamation of a site for Tanikawa Works (Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Osaka Pref.), extension of the Naruo Air Base (Kawanishi Aircraft Co., Hyogo Pref.), reclamation work at Kojima Bay (Tachikawa Aircraft Co., Okayama Pref.), and others. The record of these construction projects up to the end of the Second World War, and the trust earned in the process, formed the foundation for today’s Toyo Construction Co., Ltd.

*Names in parentheses ( ) are the orderer and the prefecture where the project was located.

The main events

March 1933 Approval of construction of the Naruo Project.
October 1933 Ground-breaking ceremony
March 1934 Launching of the electric pump ship “Naruo-maru.”
May 1934 Start of reclamation work at Saeki Flying Corps.
April 1942 Masayuki Isomura named second President of Hanshin Port Construction Co.