"I want the company to be a presence that supports the foundations of industry as well as society, regardless of the era." Since the establishment of Japan Gasoline Co., Ltd. in 1928 by its founder Masao Saneyoshi, this sentiment has been handed down continuously through the generations. It is the driving force behind the JGC Group, which has constantly strived to undergo self-reformation in tandem with the changing times and worked to expand its businesses. Today, this spirit continues to be passed down to each and every executive officer and employee.
"Import the cheapest heavy oil with the most abundant supply from overseas, convert it to the most expensive gasoline, and actively export that overseas while also meeting domestic demand..."
This was set out in the company's prospectus, describing the purpose behind the establishment of the company at the time as the refining and sale of petroleum products such as gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil.
The use of equipment such as internal combustion engines and ship boilers was widespread in Japan at the time, and furthermore, the popularity of motor vehicles grew rapidly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, leading to a surge in gasoline imports when gasoline production could no longer keep up with demand. Masao Saneyoshi, who worked first in the Yokohama Specie Bank after graduating from the Department of Political Science of (then) Tokyo Imperial University's law school, then moved on to the international trade industry, felt that the domestic production of gasoline was vital for Japan's future development. With that in mind, he procured the license for the Dubbs Cracking Process technology, the most advanced gasoline production process at the time owned by Universal Oil Products Co. (UOP) based in Chicago, United States. Armed with that, he established Japan Gasoline Co., Ltd. (predecessor of JGC Holdings Corporation) in 1928 together with the renowned businessman Tokuzo Shima, with the purpose of refining and selling petroleum.
At the time of its establishment, JGC had planned to build and operate a petroleum refinery in Otsu-cho, Senpoku-gun in Osaka (presently Izumiotsu City). However, the plan suffered many setbacks, including the opposition of local residents who were concerned about air pollution as well as the sharp decline in the petroleum market conditions, triggered by the Great Depression.
Nevertheless, Saneyoshi did not give up at that point. While developing the business by supplying UOP's licenses to various oil companies, he also strengthened the company's engineer workforce, introduced technological information from overseas, and expanded the scope of the business to include design work, which paved the way to the company's engineering business today. With regard to the manufacturing business as well, which is becoming one of the core businesses of JGC, it was during this period when the company began to take on catalyst production as an extension of its research work on petroleum refining catalysts.
After the end of the Second World War, refineries along the Pacific Coast resumed operations in 1949, and petroleum demand increased gradually in Japan on the back of postwar reconstruction activities. In the face of the pressing need to build new refineries, it was the U.S. company UOP, which JGC had worked with before the war, that possessed the latest petroleum refining technology of the time.
Saneyoshi revived JGC's relationship with UOP, which had lapsed during the war, and brought in the latest technology that UOP possessed. In addition to the process licensing business, he saw the business potential in the design and building of refineries as an engineering company, and on top of that, felt that this business would help to build the foundations of Japan's economic growth. Partly as a consequence of the war, UOP was initially reluctant to re-establish its relationship with JGC. However, Saneyoshi persisted in the negotiations, and eventually succeeded in reaching an agreement in May 1952. In fact, UOP's top management even commended Saneyoshi as "one with the wisdom of an owl and the tenacity of a bulldog."
Hence, JGC successfully made a fresh start as an engineering company after the war. In 1956, it won the contract for the construction of Idemitsu Kosan's Tokuyama Refinery from the ground up. This was Japan's first large-scale grassroots refinery after the war, and the successful completion of this project led to other domestic engineering projects for refineries and petrochemical plants thereafter. Through these projects, JGC contributed to the stable supply of energy and petrochemical products that supported Japan's rapid economic growth. In the 1960s, JGC realized the full-scale expansion of its business overseas. To date, it has completed as many as 20,000 projects in 80 countries mainly in the field of oil and gas such as petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemicals, and supplied energy and petrochemical products in Japan and across the world to the present day.
The sentiment that had fired Saneyoshi's spirit and inspired his dream of operating a refinery before the war has continued to be passed down to the executive officers and employees of the JGC Group even after his passing in 1967. In both the engineering business and the manufacturing business, it has become the driving force behind the expansion of the respective lines of business.
In the engineering business, JGC has been expanding the scope of the business from the supply of energy and petrochemical products, to promoting the use of renewable energy including solar power and biomass power generation, the production of pharmaceutical products, social infrastructure such as the construction of hospitals, industrial infrastructure development such as nonferrous metal refining, and further, the development of transportation infrastructure such as airport facilities.
In addition to the engineering business, the functional materials manufacturing undertaken by the group companies also supply the component materials for products that are indispensable in our everyday lives. These include various catalysts, fine chemical materials used in cosmetic products and LCDs, and fine ceramic substrate used in electric vehicles.
From October 2019, JGC Group will be reborn as a new corporate group comprising multiple business companies, with JGC Holdings as the pure holding company. These business companies include JGC, which will undertake the engineering business (overseas oil and gas business, overseas infrastructure business), JGC Japan (domestic business), JGC Catalysts and Chemicals that will be engaged in functional materials manufacturing, and Japan Fine Ceramics.
At the time of its establishment, founder Masao Saneyoshi had wanted the company to be a presence that supports the foundations of industry as well as society regardless of the era, which he sought to realize through the operation of a refinery. Today, as JGC becomes a new corporate group, this spirit is growing ever deeper and wider. As a corporate group that covers the engineering and manufacturing businesses in the oil & gas as well as infrastructure sectors, it will continue to provide solutions for issues faced by customers in Japan and abroad through its foundation of advanced technology and outstanding human resource capabilities, and to contribute globally to the supply of energy, environmental conservation, infrastructure development, and improving the quality of life for all the people living in society.