Shibaura Engineering Works, Shinagawa, Tokyo, c. 1910.

1910sCommerceHistoric DistrictTechnology
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Shibaura Engineering Works, Shinagawa, c. 1910.

Shibaura Engineering Works, Shinagawa, c. 1910. The company would later merge in 1939 with Tokyo Denki to form Toshiba.

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Shibaura Seisakusho (Shibaura Engineering Works) was the new name given to an earlier company, Tanaka Seisakusho (Tanaka Engineering Works), after it was declared insolvent and taken over in 1893 by Mitsui Bank. In 1910, Shibaura Seisakusho formed a tie-up with General Electric USA, which, in exchange for technology, acquired about one-quarter ownership of Shibaura.

With this investment GE now had a stake in both Tokyo Denki and Shibaura Seisakusho – two companies that had a complementary line of products in light- as well as heavy-electrical equipment. Both companies were later merged in 1939 to create Tokyo Shibaura Denki (Tokyo Shibaura Electric Company) – now known as “Toshiba”.

“In generators, switchboards, etc. there are a half-dozen fair sized factories, three of which can make generators of 7,500 to 12,500 kilovolt amperes. The Mitsubishi Co. is one of these; the other two are the Shibaura Engineering Works, and the Hidachi Mining Co.

“The Shibaura Engineering Works near Tokyo is an old Japanese iron works that has been aided financially by an American electrical manufacturing company [General Electric] and that now makes a complete line of apparatus, very closely resembling the product of the American company … The Shibaura Engineering Works is the largest and best-equipped electrical manufacturing plant in Japan, turning out a broad line. In certain classes of work, parts are imported from the American manufacturer with which it is allied. Japanese engineers representing the Shibaura Engineering Works are at the plant of the allied company in the United States, and keep in close touch with new developments in design and manufacturing methods. There are no Americans in active management of the affairs of the Shibaura company but they appear in the directorate.

“… In electric fans, Japanese makers have done considerable business and are cutting into American trade in foreign markets. There are three or four manufacturers of importance and it is said that quite a number of small shops are taking up the work. The most important plant making fans is probably the Shibaura Engineering Works, which was said to have produced 30,000 fans in 1917 and to be planning a considerable increase in output during 1918. General details of this plant have been given earlier in this report, the company making a fan much like the American company [General Electric] with which it is allied. The Shibaura fans are said to be the best made in Japan.”

“Electrical Goods in China, Japan, and Vladisvostok”, Special Agents Series #172, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, 1918

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