The “intelligence” capability of Japanese steel companies

On April 1, the Japanese government announced the year number used by the new emperor after May 1, and Japan actually entered the “Linghe” period. On the same day, many companies began to put the word “Lianhe” in the name of the company, and it seems that a new stage has begun. Although a company modified its name on this day, it did not use fashionable words. Instead, it decided to use the name of “Japan Steel” 70 years ago.

70 years ago, Nippon Steel was Japan’s largest steel company, but in the process of breaking the monopoly and dissolving the chaebol after the defeat of Japan, the company that once fully supported militarism was disbanded and divided into several companies, including the Eight Diagrams system. Iron, Fuji Steel, Nippon Steel Steamboat, Sanding Refractory Tiles, etc. In 1970, Gossip merged with Fuji into a new Nippon Steel. In 2012, Nippon Steel merged with Sumitomo Metal Industries Co., Ltd. to become the new Nippon Steel Living Gold. Later on April 1, 2019, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo gold was renamed “Japan Steel”, and the name itself returned to 70 years ago.

Of course, today’s Japanese steelmaking has been completely different in nature from Japan’s steelmaking 70 years ago, and the Japanese nation has already bid farewell to militarism. From the perspective of corporate organization, Japan’s steelmaking has also changed completely.

The first change is that Nippon Steel has promoted “self-made” on the road to internationalization (the local production route of steel). 40 years ago, Nippon Steel decided to assist China in building the Baoshan Iron and Steel Plant, laying the foundation for China’s subsequent economic revitalization. In 2018, Nippon Steel Sumitomo acquired a large-scale acquisition of the local company Essar in India, and the acquisition used 666.8 billion yen (about 6 billion US dollars). In the future, Indian steel will greatly accelerate technological progress due to this merger.

The second change is that Nippon Steel has greatly increased the use of “intelligence” (information). Nippon Steel has approximately 30,000 patents in more than 70 countries around the world and is the world’s largest “steel patent department store”. For example, the company’s deep seawater pressure alloy pipelines account for 80% of the world market. After the United States increased tariffs on Japanese steel products, the price increase brought by tax increases did not reduce the company’s exports to the United States. The United States can neither produce the oil pipeline nor import it from other countries. Its own tariff policy has finally hit its own family. American companies are also afraid of the government. Not letting the price or reducing production is a decision of the company after the war between Japan and the United States. It seems that Japanese companies are very prescient.

The author learned from relevant people that Hashimoto Yoshiji, who is the president of Nippon Steel Corporation on April 1, is 63 years old and is a person who pays special attention to information collection and analysis. Hashimoto began to be an overseas business minister in 2003. He has a habit of convening all the people to meet every morning on Monday, from 7:15 to 9:00, to analyze the economic situation in Japan and abroad.

In the six years of doing overseas business ministers, the weekly analysis meeting of Hashimoto was unimpeded, resulting in a group of employees who understand the situation in the world and Japan. In the future, no matter where the company encounters problems in the world, Hashimoto’s subordinates will go there for processing. In the past six years, a large number of outstanding cadres have been trained, and these people are internally referred to as “Hashimoto School” graduates.

In recent years, the profitability of Japanese steel companies has changed a lot. This profitability is not due to the increase in production, nor is it due to the optimization of internal management. The income from patent transfer, the success of mergers and acquisitions of foreign companies, etc., are the main driving forces to achieve this. The ability to collect and process information has become more and more important in modern business operations.