From the wiki: “After 1868, the Meiji Restoration introduced Western dietary and cultural influences, which paved the way for a native dairying industry. In particular, the introduction and rapid acceptance of coffee drinking provided an important avenue for exposure to milk and a considerable source of demand. Streetside cafés were joined by milk ‘parlours’ as fashionable niches for refreshment in Tokyo and the other large cities. By 1890, the nation was devoting scientific research to the development of a native condensed milk industry. In time, the production of condensed milk would exceed Japan’s needs; the market was expanded into China and the South Sea islands after World War I.
“Meiji Dairies Corporation, the first major dairy company in Japan, was first established as a subsidiary operation of Meiji Seika (Japan’s largest confectionery company) in 1917 to produce milk-related products, such as ice cream, cheese, butter, margarine, powdered milk for babies, and evaporated and sweetened condensed milks all marketed under the Meiji brand name. It pioneered the marketing of dairy products in Japan and played an important role in growing the industry. Meiji Dairies became independent of Meiji Seika in 1940.”