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ITOCHU History

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About Chubei Itoh, the Founder of ITOCHU Corporation

Chubei Itoh Ⅰ
Chubei Itoh Ⅰ built an extensive array of very self-reliant businesses during a period of great turmoil.
Chubei Itoh Ⅱ
After taking over the business from Chubei Itoh Ⅰ, Chubei Itoh Ⅱ reformed and modernized the management and bolstered the product lineup, while expanding overseas operations.
Yae Itoh, the Wife of Chubei Itoh Ⅰ
When looking at the great achievements of Chubei Itoh I and II, Yae cannot be overlooked as a wife and mother.
Chubei Itoh Museum
Tracing the footsteps that led the way from textile wholesale dealer to “general trading company”, the museum exhibits a lot of materials including favorite belongings of Chubei Itoh Ⅰ and Chubei Itoh Ⅱ.

ITOCHU History

Year ITOCHU History
1858

ITOCHU's founder, Chubei Itoh, commenced linen trading operations. (ITOCHU Corporation established)

When Chubei Itoh I was 15 years old, he began itinerant trading in linen, traveling to Osaka and Kishu. In the following year, he traveled as far as Nagasaki via Okayama, Hiroshima, and Shimonoseki. At this time, Japan concluded the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with five countries, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and the Netherlands, opening an era of free trade. The sight of foreigners, battleships, and foreign trading posts astonished Chubei and sparked his curiosity. He became convinced of the limitless potential of commerce.

What is itinerant trading?
Itinerant trading means door-to-door wholesaling of products. It was a style of business that involved regular travel to familiar places (commercial areas) in different regions. Ohmi Merchants adopted a style of business in which they took products from their local area and the Kansai district to local regions, and procured products of the local regions and sold them in the Kansai area. Chubei carried sample books to take orders, and by using the express transportation services, he transported the products to the inns that are located in the area where customers were located, and sold the products there.
1872

Chubei Itoh establishes the “Benichu” drapery shop in Osaka.

Chubei opened Benchu, a drapery store at Honmachi 2-chome, Higashi-ku, Osaka, east of Nakahashisuji. Benchu mainly handled linen and fabrics from the Bino and Kanto regions. At that time, the Fushimi-machi area was the center of drapery wholesalers, while Honmachi was attracting many used clothing merchants. Despite this, in selecting the base of his business in Osaka, Chubei Itoh I chose Honmachi, anticipating the future development of the Honmachi area. He is said to have chosen Honmachi because it was accessible by road from Kawaguchi-cho, where boats could dock, and the cost of land was less than a half that in Fushimi-machi.
Once Benchu was open, Chubei drew up a charter. In it, he set out his workers' rights and duties, unique for the time, to ensure that all workers, including junior staff, could work to their utmost capabilities. The important ethos pervading the management style of Chubei Itoh I was his commitment to training his staff. Based on trust in his workers, he promoted competent workers in a bold manner, and adopted a meetings-based system of management, which could be regarded as the democratization of management.

1884

An expanded Benichu is renamed “Itoh Honten” (Itoh Headquarters).

1893

Chubei Itoh establishes Itoh Itomise (Thread and Yarn Store), to which ITOCHU traces its roots.

Chubei opened Itoh Itomise, a cotton thread wholesale store, at Azuchi-cho 2-chome, Higashi-ku, Osaka. Under Chubei Itoh I, the general manager, the store started with ten workers, including an assistant general mangers, manager, and assistant manager. Itoh Itomise adopted a series of management systems that were revolutionary for the times, including the codifying of the sharing of profits by three stakeholders, the introduction of Western-style bookkeeping, and the issuance of Jitsugyo, a monthly business magazine (which became a leading magazine for the fabric industry; with some copies sold to the public). Through these initiatives, Chubei developed a base of mutual trust between the store manager and workers, and achieved efficient management.
The store became the basis of the operations that ITOCHU Corporation has since built.

[Photo] Itoh Itomise
(Thread and Yarn Store)
1914

Itoh Itomise is reorganized under the name C. Itoh & Co.

1918

C. Itoh & Co. is transformed into a public stock company-C. Itoh & Co., Ltd.
The New York branch office is opened.

1928

The CI logo [CI]is created for use outside Japan.

1941

Sanko Kabushiki Kaisha, Ltd. is established by merging of C. Itoh & Co., Marubeni Shoten Ltd., and Kishimoto Shoten Ltd.

1944

Sanko is merged with Daido Boeki Kaisha, Ltd. and Kureha Cotton Spinning Co., Ltd. to form Daiken Co., Ltd.

1949

Daiken Co., Ltd., a company created from the merger of trading and manufacturing firms during World War II, separates into C. Itoh & Co., Ltd., Kureha Cotton Spinning Co., Ltd., Marubeni Co., Ltd., and Amagasaki Nail Works, Ltd.

1950

The Company lists on the Osaka Securities Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

1952

C. Itoh & Co. (America) (currently, ITOCHU International Inc.) established.

1957

The Company completes construction of a new Tokyo Branch Office building (at 2-chome, Nihonbashi Honcho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo).

1967

The Company renames the Tokyo Branch Office the Tokyo Head Office, to join the Osaka Head Office in a dual head-office structure.

1969

To mark the 100th anniversary of its founding, the Company opens the new C. Itoh Head Office building in Osaka.

On April 25, 1969, the 100th anniversary ceremony of ITOCHU's founding was held at the conference room on the 13th floor. A corporate song, “Cover the World,” a corporate slogan, “C. Itoh covers the world,” and a corporate motto, “Idea and Challenge” were announced.

[Photo] Advisor Chubei Itoh II performs a celebratory song at the 100th anniversary ceremony
1971

The Company assists in arranging a basic contract for cooperation between General Motors Corporation of the United States and Isuzu Motors, Ltd. of Japan.

1972

The Chinese government welcomes C. Itoh as a friendly trading company, the first such recognition given to a Japanese sogo shosha.

ITOCHU Corporation entered a growth period in the 1970s. The Company's long-held vision of “Enhancing non-textile businesses - Diversification” was finally realized, and it rapidly expanded operations as a general trading company. ITOCHU Corporation was the first general trading company to establish a trading relationship with China. It publicly announced that it would comply with the “Four Japan-China trading conditions” on December 14, 1971, and then established a section within the company dedicated to China and began initiatives to actively promote trade. When a mission led by then President Mr. Echigo visited China in March 1972, ITOCHU was officially recognized as a friendly trading company by the Chinese government, and continued to play significant roles in promoting friendship and trade between Japan and China. Soon after this appointment, on September 29, 1972, Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka achieved a normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China.

1974

ITOCHU Foundation is established to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Company's postwar rebirth.

ITOCHU Corporation established the ITOCHU Foundation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its postwar rebirth, launching social action programs to encourage the healthy development of young people.

1977

The Company acquires Ataka & Co., Ltd., a sogo shosha involved primarily in steel-related business.

1980

The Company completes the construction of a new head office building in the Aoyama district of Tokyo.

1989

Japan's first commercial communications satellite ‘JCSAT-1’ was successfully launched.

1992

Implementation of ITOCHU's New CI program leads to a new expression of the official corporate ideals, the adoption of the current English-language name, and the creation of a new corporate logo.

ITOCHU Corporation's new English-language name and official corporate ideals were announced on June 1, 1992. Prior to this, with the participation of all employees, the New CI program was conducted over a period of one year to determine a corporate name and philosophy that were suitable for a diversified international company. As a result, ITOCHU Corporation was selected as the Company's English-language name, while the Japanese name was left unchanged. The Company also established “The ITOCHU Credo” and “The ITOCHU Way” as its corporate philosophy, focusing on “ITOCHU Committed to the global good.” New corporate symbols, including a new corporate logo, were also introduced on October 1.

[Photo] The new English name for the Company and the new corporate philosophy were announced
1996

The ITOCHU Group becomes the largest private shareholder of Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development.

1997

Division Company system introduced.
ITOCHU becomes the first sogo shosha to receive environmental certificate ISO14001.

With ITOCHU's operations in Japan and overseas becoming more diversified and the management environment changing very quickly, the Company recognized that it needed to adopt a more autonomous management approach, enabling greater agility by delegating authority and responsibility to its divisions. The concept of developing a “Division Company” system was created. Consequently, an examination committee was set up in 1995 and the system was adopted in FY1997. The main purposes of the system were, first, to create an optimal management system with independent management by the Division Companies (to create a system geared to the characteristics of the Companies, enable prompt decision making through a bold decentralization of authority, and build a more sophisticated management system based on consolidated performance and balance sheets); second, to establish a small and efficient head office; and third, to achieve the minimum control required in line with the decentralization of authority. By adopting this new approach, ITOCHU sought to strengthen its performance and operations, while bolstering its earnings.

1998

The ITOCHU Group acquires stock in FamilyMart Co., Ltd.

1999

“Executive Officer” post introduced.

2001

Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc.[Open in a new window] established.

2002

Chubei Itoh Memorial Museum opened.

2005

The Company launches its new medium-term management plan “Frontier—2006: A Shift to Aggressive Business and Enhancement of Solid Management.”
The Company's consolidated net income exceeds 100 billion yen.
The Company forms a capital and business alliance with Orient Corporation.

2006

The Company begins the ITOCHU DNA Project, a project for business process reengineering.

2007

The Company launches its new medium-term management plan “Frontier+ 2008: Enhancing Corporate Value on the World Stage.”

2008

The Company acquires a stake in a Brazilian iron ore mining business.[PDF] (224KB)
The Company announces the social contribution programs commemorating 150th anniversary.

2009

The Company launches its new medium-term management plan “Frontiere 2010: Enhancing Corporate Value on the World Stage, Shaping the Future.”
The Company announces the ITOCHU Mission, Values & 5 self-tests.

2011

The Company launches its new medium-term management plan "Brand-new Deal 2012"
The Company Invests in Drummond Company Colombian Mines
The Company relocated its Osaka Head Office to Osaka Station City (Umeda)

2013

The Company launches its new medium-term management plan "Brand-new Deal 2014"

Common information from here.