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History of Japanese screws and fastener industry

First use of screws in Western Europe

Great use of screws in the Western Europe began in the early 18th century during the industrial evolution. In Japan, however, use of imported screws began in the last days of Edo period and helped Japan to modernize and industrialize itself.


First screw manufacturing in Japan

In Japan, the first hand-made screws are made for tail valves of firearms, which were introduced in the middle of 16th century to Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture. Then in the middle 19th century, a man called Karakuri Giemon invented threading machines to make screws for Japanese clocks.

Industrial production of screws in Japan began in the end of Edo Period when Japan began constructing steel mills and shipyards to make and repair its own ships in order to protect itself from European powers.


Japan's modernization began with one screw

In 1860, a young influential member of the Edo Shogunate, Uenosuke Oguri, visited U.S. and astonished to see a shipyard in Washington building battleships one after another using machines.

Thinking that Japan should have such modern industrial facilities, Oguri brought back one screw. Then he stamped out opposition in the financially bankrupt Edo Shogunate, bravely reformed the government and constructed a shipyard in Yokosuka, which required huge amount of money.

The shipyard which later built battleships that broke the force of the Baltic Fleet was one of foundations of Japan's several industries in and after the Meiji Era.


Development of screw import and trading companies

Import of screw production facilities, machines as well as screw parts began in the end of the Edo Period. In the Meiji Era, machine and bare metal merchants started screws imports in a large quantity from England. In the late 18th century, new trading companies specialized in screw import were established and they formed a screw wholesale district in Itachibori, Osaka Prefecture.


Screw manufacturing by machineries

Kazahei and Byokatsu in Itachibori are the first two manufacturers of hand-made brass wood screws established in around 1884. Later in 1904, Tokyo Neji Seisakusho began production of bolts and nuts, and in 1921 Byosada production of rivets.

Screw manufacturers which originally manufactured brass or copper screws by hand gradually incorporated iron screws, manufacturing machines and higher technology, and expanded their range of merchandise into munitions industry.


Industrial production of domestic products

Full scale industrial production of screws began for the first time in 1906 by the national Yawata Steel Works at its bolts plant. Domestic screw manufacturers supported and played an important part in the rapid modernization of industry, which was almost too aggressively led by the new Meiji government. They played a major part in the history of growth of small and medium companies of Japan.


Screws as "the salt of industry"

The World War Ⅱ was serious blows to the fastener industry, but during the Korean War which started a war-time "special procurements" boom, leaders of the industry worked hard together to establish today's solid foundation of the fastener industry.

Japan's super economic growth mainly in the manufacturing area was actually supported by screws as "the salt of industry." In Japan with the economic growth, the fastener industry achieved higher technology, introduced common industrial standards and new facilities, all of which supported establishment of solid industrial foundation.


Roles of industrial associations

Japan's industrial association, which was once cynically described as a convoy system, actually promoted sound competitions and progress in each industry. It promotes open communication and cooperation between users and suppliers, companies in the same or different areas, and companies and academic institutions. As a result, companies can close the gap among them and develop whole industry.


Fastener industry association

In 1955, the Japan Fasteners Commerce Association and six fastener industry associations, which later formed the Fasteners Institute of Japan, established the Fasteners Commerce and Industry Association with an aim to promote sound coordination between screw manufacturers and distributors.

The purpose of the establishment of the Fasteners Institute of Japan as a sole public interest corporation in the industry was, as in the first article of the rules of its predecessor the Japan Fastener industry Association , to improve the position of the fastener industry and help the whole industry to grow. The idea of completing industrial mission and growth is solidly transposed.

In the severer business environment, which is now information-oriented and highly globalized, companies are required to further improve their technology and service and develop their management to a higher level.

The fastener industry is also engaged in development projects looking to the future in order to turn away from old system and keep up with the advancement and progress of the whole industry.