Section 1. The Japanese Automotive Market
Item 3. Domestic Automotive Production-the Demise of Kwaishinsha and Hakuyosha
In 1886, Daimler created the world's first four-wheeled vehicle powered by a gasoline engine, while Benz created a three-wheel version.
The France-produced Panhard et Levassor, a gasoline-powered vehicle, is first imported in Japan in 1898. In 1907, Komanosuke Uchiyama, an engineer from Tokyo Motor Vehicle Works, completed the first Japanese-made gasoline engine automobile, the "Takuri".
Several efforts were made to produce vehicles in Japan over the next twenty years. However, as the overall level of Japan's industrial technology at the time was immature, conditions were not suitable for establishing an all-round automotive industry, and ventures to produce vehicles domestically were unsuccessful. Among the efforts undertaken, two ventures that had a considerable influence on the eventual establishment of the domestic automotive industry were Kwaishinsha Motor Car Co., Ltd. and Hakuyosha Company.
Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works was founded in the Azabu Hiroo district of Tokyo in July 1911 by Masujiro Hashimoto, who was originally from Nukata-gun (now Okazaki City) in Aichi Prefecture. While assembling, selling and repairing foreign cars, he studied automobiles, and in 1914 completed his first passenger car, the DAT.
In 1918, Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works became a joint-stock company, Kwaishinsha Motor Car Co., Ltd., and in 1922 the DAT 41 model passenger car won a gold award at the Peace Commemoration Tokyo Exposition. However, business was constantly slow, and Kwaishinsha was forced to close its operations in 1925 after suffering a fatal blow from the rapid increase in U.S. vehicles following the Great Kanto Earthquake.
In September 1926 Jitsuyo Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. bought the rights to manufacture DAT vehicles, and established DAT Jidosha Seizo Co., Ltd. Although Masujiro Hashimoto joined the company as senior managing officeer, he left the automotive industry when it was absorbed by Tobata Casting Co., Ltd.1 in June 1931. The compact passenger car developed by DAT Jidosha Seizo, named the Datsun, was continued by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Meanwhile, in June 1912 Junya Toyokawa2 established the Hakuyosha Company and operated a manufacturing business producing machine tools and other items at the company's plant in Sugamo-machi, Tokyo. In 1921 Toyokawa built two domestic vehicles, a model named the Ales, and exhibited this car at the 1922 Peace Commemoration Tokyo Exposition the following year, winning a silver award.
Toyokawa also successfully created a prototype for the 'Otomo' model in 1924. Approximately 230 Japan-made Otomo vehicles (equipped with an air-cooled 980 cc OHV engine) were produced before production ended in the spring of 1928. The Hakuyosha Company ultimately closed as assembly production of U.S. vehicles gained speed.
Hakuyosha Company employed several people who would go on to play key roles in the automotive industry, including Higuma Ikenaga3, Shuji Ono4, and Shisaburo Kurata5, who joined the Automotive Department of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works.