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At a time when many children entered the workforce right after completing elementary school, Hitachi, Ltd. set up the Apprenticeship Training School inside its factory in April 1910, its founding year. The school provided general and technical instruction. Although many students joined other companies after graduating, Hitachi founder Namihei Odaira said, “I'm satisfied if they contribute to Japanese industry.” The school later became the Hitachi Technical High School, which has graduated numerous technicians as custodians of Hitachi's tradition of monozukuri (designing, manufacturing, or repairing of products) craftsmanship, including WorldSkills International gold medalists.
The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 devastated the Keihin industrial zone, which was the heart of Japanese manufacturing, surrounding the ports of Tokyo and of Yokohama. Orders from around the nation poured into the Hitachi Works in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, as it was unscathed. But Hitachi rejected such opportunities for profit, preferring to devote all its production capacity to help rebuild Tokyo. Hitachi became renowned for excellence in the process, and demand for its products subsequently soared.
When addressing new employees, Hitachi founder Namihei Odaira would state, “I want you to contribute more to national (social) progress than profits.” His statement remains integral to Hitachi's corporate credo of “contributing to society through the development of superior, original technology and products,” a sentiment that is shared around the globe.
In Hitachi's early days, we drew water from the Hitachi Mine, but local population growth had left the entire area with a serious water shortage. Concerned about this, Kumeo Baba, then the general manager of the Hitachi Works located in Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, proposed not only collecting industrial water but also supplying water to local residents. In 1940, Hitachi built a water collection and pumping station on Kujigawa River in Hitachi City and also established Hitachi Waterworks Co. (later to become the Hitachi City Waterworks Department) to supply some industrial water to town residents for domestic use. This facility is still used for industrial water.
In 1942, when Hitachi's Central Research Laboratory (HCRL) was established in Kokubunji in Tokyo, Namihei Odaira, founder of Hitachi, Ltd., gave instructions not to cut down good trees but build around them, in order to preserve the natural beauty of the Musashino area. This lush natural environment, which can still be found today near the laboratory, continues to bring tranquility and refresh the hearts of researchers and visitors alike; and is treasured by local residents who visit the laboratory grounds during the open days held each year in spring and fall. Inheriting the spirit of our far-sighted founder, we continue to pursue a policy of harmony with the environment in building facilities and laboratories in various locations.
Dr. Kumeo Baba, one of the founding members of Hitachi, Ltd., was devoted to developing highly skilled engineers. He established the predecessor to the current Henjin-kai in commemoration of reaching a target of 30 doctoral degree holders. In the early days, the association was called Henjin-kai using the kanji (Chinese characters) that mean “eccentric person,” based on Dr. Baba's statement that, “truly advanced discoveries can be expected from eccentrics who have escaped from the norm. Don't be ordinary or even talented-be eccentric.” Later on the association changed the characters to encompass the idea of returning to the pure human state of love and benevolence. Today, the association has over 2,000 members including former employees active in their respective fields, and many in mentoring their successors.