JUN 26 1935 at KUROSAWA Factory in Kamata
|Thank you for your introduction.
Thank you for coming despite the early summer heat. I am managing a factory, and I often have visitors to the factory. Visitors ask me if I have any personal beliefs and they ask me about financial resources. I really do not have a grand plan, nor do I have large financial resources. I myself am amazed that I have been able to come this far with such an easygoing attitude. I feel humbled and grateful. It was like a good seed found a good land, began to sprout, became a seedling, and grew to be a fine tree. With many blessings, as you see today, the tree branched out with rich foliage.
|It has been 34 years since the forming of the company. There were more than a few economic turbulences. There was the Great Kanto Earthquake. I am deeply grateful and appreciative that a very small company like mine with small capital and small production facilities survived through so many hardships. I built a school and provided housings for families of my employees. I built a company dining hall. I do whatever I can for the benefits of my employees. I am not doing this to patronize my employees. To tell you the truth, I did not even finish primary school because I had to work because of family circumstances. I did not want children of my employees go through the same hardships I went through. I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure the children finish primary school and so I built a school for them. There is a dining hall at the factory. Employees live close to the Factory and they can go home to have meals with their families. However, I thought that it would be good for the employees to have small meals with their coworkers, and I built a dining hall at the Factory. Over meals, employees can reminisce about old days, talk how far we have come, and get to know one another better. I am sure this helps teamwork and communications among employees.|
|The building used for the dining hall was built with the same specifications as the factory so that in case of emergency it can be used as the factory. With regard to employee housings, I built them because 20 years ago, house rents were very high. I thought that if I built employee housings, it would help my employees. I added one house to another. You also find many trees in the property. You might think that I spent lots of money planting trees. Some I did plant seedlings, but many of the trees have grown from the seeds. It was the passage of time, nature and good care that helped trees grow so big. As I mentioned earlier, there is a primary school and a kindergarten. I built schools to provide basic education.|
|I did not have a large fund to build facilities for my employees. I just built them bit by bit with whatever money that was available. I myself am amazed that I have been able to accomplish this much. This was accomplished painstakingly with the hard work of all the people. It is not just my accomplishment alone.|
|Some say that with so many benefits, employees may get complacent and their performance may get slack. Others may say that I lose money by doing this. I am not doing this to put my employees under obligations. There are no employees, or at least I do not know of any who would just take advantage of this and get lazy. You may see some amateurish work here and there. This is because we did the work ourselves. We bought building materials. We put up pillars and a roof over ourselves.|
|For the factory to continue and for us to prosper, we need to be united and work in teamwork. We cannot accomplish this if you are too calculating. There are so many unknowns and it cannot be reasoned.|
|If you are running a small business, there are times that you make money and times that you lose money. There are ups and downs with business. You should not just look at numbers on the book. If you have more materials in your inventory later, then you have profited even if you may have less money. If you make money, use the money to produce more things. If you have really lost money, just think that you have deposited it at "Heaven"|
|There are sayings that "When a country is facing a crisis, citizens become loyal to the country"and "achild born in a poor family grows up to be a fine and respectable person" I am not sure how helpful or useful the benefits are. At normal times, you take them for granted and do not think about it. However, there are times when I think that what I have done really benefited, and I feel thankful. This happened at the time of Great Kanto Earthquake, for example. When the great earthquake hit, the employees and their families were in one place. Employees got together the following day and made a commitment that we would rebuild ourselves. The factory was thus rebuilt. I am thankful to the power of the team.|
|Benefits are like a fire insurance or life insurance. I am not building employee facilities for my own sake. I am not doing this to put employees under any obligations. My ancestors left me with the maxim that I value and cherish: "Accumulation of good deeds will bring happiness to the household" My parents were indeed people of good deeds. I am what I am because of their good deeds. If I do whatever I can to others, then I believe my children will benefit.|
|I am resolved to continue with this business. When I talk to a group of
employees, I often compare this factory to a boat. I say that I am captain
of the boat called "Kurosawa-maru" You are sailors and we are all on the
same boat. Whatever challenges and difficulties we face, if you keep your
position, do what is required of you and work together, Kurosawa-maru will
not go under. However, if you get lazy and do not pay attention, the boat
may get wrecked and go under. I am on the same boat. I pay close attention
so as not to crack even a small hole in the boat. My sincere wish is to
make contributions to the nation. The nation is a harbor for "Kurosawa-maru"
This ends my talk. Thank you very much.
|Questions and Answers Q:
You said there was no capital but how did you start your business? Q: Do you have any organizations to improve efficiency in the production process? A: People have been talking about improving efficiency for some time. I believe that making quality goods is the best way to improve efficiency. The production volume is not an issue. The point is how to make quality goods. I do not have any special organization. Q: Have you been making products from the very beginning? A: Initially, we did not have necessary production facilities and we only made components.
|Q: How many employees did you have initially? A: We only had a few. The current factory superintendent is the longest serving employee. Q: Have you ever had delinquent workers? A: There may have been few but I do not know of any. There are very few who left the company. When there were labor disputes nearby, people said that protesters might come to my place as well. I was waiting for them and I thought that if they came, I would give them some meals. They never came. Q: How do you hire? A: Many get employed through referrals. Workers bring their relatives and acquaintances to work at the factory. Q: Do you employ people who are school graduates? A: Yes, if that is their wish.|
|Q: Do you have a retirement system? A: I do not want to retire myself and there is no retirement system. Q: Was there any other company in the same business when you started the company? A: No. It is not easy if you do not have any competitor. If there are many competitors, that means the market has potential. I appreciate new comers to the market. Q: Why have you decided to make a katakana typewriter? A: China was known widely at the time of Japanese-Sino War but there were many in the world who did not know about Japan. People have often mistaken Japanese as Chinese because Japanese and Chinese are of the same race. There was another reason. We both used the same characters. I created the Katakana typewriter early 1899 so people would not mistake Japanese for Chinese. It was put in practical use in 1915. The Central Telephone Office started to use two Katakana typewriters that year. Eighteen years has passed since I first produced the Katakana typewriter.|
|THE MOTTO OF MY SHOP
The motto of my shop is "Everything Best in Office Appliances".
Mottos like "Customer Friendliness" or "Honesty First" are popular and used widely. However, they are clichés. Any shops, any businesses or any human beings for that matter need to adhere to such mottos and they are not unique. The motto of my shop may sound a little strange. However, in the U.S., many businesses use mottos which represent their unique characteristics.
Profits come in Second
"Everything Best in Office Appliances".
The motto is to sell the very best in office appliances. If not the best, I will not sell. I will only make money selling the very best.
Profits for businessmen are something which should not be taken lightly. They are like an oak tree; slow growing, solid and steady. For businessmen, profits come in second, and social service comes in first. I have decided to go into office appliance business because office appliances will help improve work efficiency. My motivation was not money. There is a limit to the ability of human beings and we need the help of machine. You need the very best machine you can rely on, and I have decided to be a supplier of such machine and office appliances.
The reason I have started a typewriter business is because I hate Chinese characters (kanji). I thought that if typewriters become popular, I will be able to contribute to the advancement of the society. I did not intend to make money, but I made money unconsciously. Businessmen must be at the frontline of social services. Businessmen must have ideals for the products they deal in. If you trade in cotton or iron, you need to think about cotton or iron night and day, asleep or awake. You must devote yourself in the product that you deal in.
If you do this, you will make money and be successful. However, if you go into cotton business because it makes money or go into iron business because it is profitable, you will just use your funds in vain and fail. People who failed in business in the past were people like that.
If you try to make money, you become near-sighted. If you have good and solid business foundation, you cannot help but be profitable.
The Motto of My Shop
I often get proposals from suppliers of typewriters and office appliances overseas. My motto is to sell the very best. There is a solid standard and a measure. If what such suppliers offer do not meet my standard, I decline their offers.
Newly developed products are offered on a trial basis initially. I do not sell such products unless they have passed the trial period successfully and their quality has been proven. If I am not careful, I get garbage.
Some say that if there is a new invention, you should move quickly to get it. Otherwise others may get exclusive rights on it. Yes, in some cases I do not make money and others who move quickly profit. However there is a limit to what one can do. Unless you are almighty, you cannot do everything. It is better and safer to move slowly than rush to things. When others move before me and make money, it is OK because we all live in the same society. It is good to give others a chance to make money. The foundation of my business is solid. Others will not be able to break down what I have built. We eat three times a day today and so did we twenty years ago. The pace has not changed. We do not have to rush. There is a saying, "Slow but Sure". This is my personal motto.
Success is not about making enormous fortune. People who find satisfaction in their day's work are successful people. It does not matter what you do. If you have done your work faithfully and conscientiously, you are successful. If you repeat the work 365 days a year, then you are a very successful person.
Happiness is not about accumulating enormous wealth. A truly happy person is someone who is mentally and spiritually contented. If you just daydream, you will never get fulfillment. If you try to jump ahead to success in one leap, it is like scattering thousands of bricks trying to build a house. To build a house or building you need to put one brick at a time.
Mediocre Customers and Quality Customers
If the circumstances allow, it is best to sell quality goods. Quality customers will come to shops which sell quality goods and risks of bad debts are minimized. The thing that businessmen must avoid is bad debts.
To protect yourself from bad debts, you need to sell quality goods. "Like attracts like". If you trade in mediocre products, only such customers will come. If you sell quality goods, you get quality customers. Selling quality goods will protect you from bad debts. If you do not protect yourself, you are below insects.
A businessman's responsibility does not end selling goods and collecting payment. You are held responsible to what you sell. If I sell a defective product, I will pay with all my fortune to remedy. I will make sure I do not inconvenience my customers. The product that you sell is like a check that you write.
A product imprinted with my name is like a check that I write. I assume the entire responsibility for the product.
A product has a life-span. If I sell a product with a life-span of 1 year, I would ensure that it would last for two years. If you work with this mindset, you will be considered a very responsible businessman.
by Mr. Kanji Nakamura
|I was shocked to learn the news that Kurosawa-san had passed away. However, come to think of it, we are both pushing age 80 and it is quite natural that we get withered. Bereaved families naturally wish that he would have lived to 100, but he has lived long enough. The common wish of the elderly is that we do not get bed-ridden for a long period of time.|
|Kurosawa-san has become famous for the typewriter. In recent years, he continued to be ranked high in the list of high-income earners and, in that sense he has succeeded in his business. However, I do not think he was really interested in such things as fame or profits. His interest was somewhere else. He returned to Japan from the U.S. with a big dream of advancing telecommunications in Japan with Kana typewriters that he had developed but the times were not ready for it. He struggled to spread the use. After years of hardships, the times had caught up and the era of teletypewriters had begun. His passion and enthusiasm to realize his long-held dream brought the Japanese teletypewriter into perfection.|
|The joy of realizing the dream must have been great and must have given him much satisfaction. He has made big contributions to the country, and profits came with it. Rumor has it hat he has rejected a request to increase production and refused to increase the unit price. I believe that he was just very happy and satisfied that his dream had finally come true.|
|I was just one of his many friends and acquaintances but we got along quite well with each other. We enjoyed the companionship and I had many opportunities to listen to his talks.|
|When I first met Kurosawa-san, it was around 1905 when he was running a shop in Kyobashi-Yasaemon-cho. Roku-roku Shoten which I jointly founded with Shoichi Noda in Sukiyabashi moved its shop to Shin-Sakanaba-Cho to grow the business further. The shop was six or seven buildings away from Kurosawa-san’s shop. The companionship started when I purchased an Elliott Book Typewriter from Kurosawa-san. We developed friendships and he even invited me to his home and treated me to Western dishes at his home.|
|When a shop called Imai Shoten having an office in Ginza Owari-cho faced financial difficulties, Noda-san attended the creditors’s meeting representing Roku-roku Shoten. At the creditors’s meeting, it was decided to sell the property that Imai owned. Roku-roku Shoten was asked to buy the property but Roku-roku was a manufacturer of machine tools and there was no point in having a shop on the main street of Ginza. We then decided that the location was best suited for Kurosawa-san’s shop. We talked to Kurosawa-san, and he agreed to purchase the property. This is how he came to open a shop in Ginza.|
|Kurosawa-san was a quintessential Tokyoite. His life style was Americanized. He did not like to listen to gripes or idle chatters. When talking to friends, he always included some humorous episodes. He often talked about dozing off on the train to go home to Kamata after having some drinks and missing his stop. He jumped off the train at Yokohama to catch the train to go back to Kamata but the train from which he jumped off was the one which headed back to Tokyo. He had to wait yet another train to head back. He thought that it was amusing that the conductor of the train did not wake sleeping passengers on arriving at the last stop. On rare occasion, he talked about childhood memories. I do not think that very many people have heard the episode and I would like to share it today.|
|I believe that it was some years after he opened his shop in Ginza. One night, I was walking past his shop after dinner, and saw Kurosawa-san giving a lecture to a group of young employees in the shop. Kurosawa-san saw me and he invited me in. Kurosawa-san was telling his childhood experience to his employees. He was sending his employees to night school because he himself had not been able to go to school, but his employees were skipping night school with paltry excuses like headaches, bad weather, etc. He was reprimanding his employees to quit if they did not like to study.|
|When Kurosawa-san was very young, he started an apprenticeship at a pharmacy. Twice a year, staff at the pharmacy got special bonuses of 20 sen before New Year and summer holidays. Kurosawa-san knew that there would be a time when English language skills were required, and he bought English text books with the bonus. He also bought a small oil lamp. Every night after work, he would light the oil lamp and study. He would write words and phrases on his arm to recite and learn while making rounds of doctors’s offices pushing the cart of medicines.|
|One night the owner of the shop found out about it and took the books and the lamp away. The shop owner said that Kurosawa-san had too much time to spare and told him to work till 9:00 at night putting labels on the medicine. Kurosawa-san was not about to get crushed with such unreasonable and irrational treatment. He bought the books and the lamp again and hid them on the third floor of the warehouse and studied for 1 to 2 hours every night before he went to bed.|
|After so many years as an apprentice, when it became time to be promoted as a shop manager, it was a common practice in Japan for the shop owner to give a formal attire of Japanese kimono to the apprentice. It was not Kurosawa-san’s wish to be just the manager of the shop. Kurosawa-san asked that the shop owner would give the money instead so that he would go to the U.S. There must have been some push backs and he must have negotiated hard but his wish had finally been granted. He bought a suit in Yokohama to bring to the U.S.. After he bought the suit, he did not have any money left and he had to pawn his kimono to get 8 yen to spend on the boat. Back then, it was not difficult to travel to the U.S. since no deposit was required. He studied English on his own but he learned well enough to read Burley’s British History book in English.|
|Right after landing at the Pacific coast, Kurosawa-san made a living digging potatoes. Most of his colleagues were immigrant laborers and did not speak English. Since Kurosawa-san spoke English he was made a group leader and negotiated with an employer. The practice then was to pay each laborer 10 cents flat regardless of the skill. Kurosawa-san negotiated with the employer so that the money would be paid to a group of a dozen or so laborers, and the money would be allocated to individual laborers based on their skills. Under this system, all members including less skilled and experienced laborers earned more than before.|
|Later he found that salmon fishing made more money than digging potatoes, and he decided to go north. He made some money salmon fishing. At the time, three railway operators launched railway service to New York and they competed to lure customers to travel to east at 25 dollars. Kurosawa-san jumped at the opportunity and went to New York. "I was a backward country man crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with a heavy bamboo baggage on my back." He said laughingly.|
|In New York, Kurosawa-san started to work for Mr. Eliott’s household doing house chores. After about one year, Mr. Eliott, who owned the typewriter factory, offered to send Kurosawa-san to school. Kurosawa-san instead asked that he would be employed at Mr. Eliott’s typewriter factory. This was what Kurosawa-san told the group that night in his shop about his childhood experience.|
|While working at the typewriter factory, Kurosawa-san came up with the idea of developing Japanese kana typewriters, and having them used for telecommunications in Japan. The first step he thought was to present a prototype to the Ministry of Telecommunications. He came back to Japan with this aspiration but the Ministry showed little interest and only purchased few prototypes. His dream of having kana typewriters used in telecommunications was crushed.|
|However, he did not give up. He continued to make efforts. He introduced typewriters to Japanese offices. His talent, passion and tenacity brought him prosperity. When the Great Kanto Earthquake hit, the Kamata Factory was severely destroyed. The shop in Ginza was also damaged from a spreading fire. His cargo at the Yokohama Customs Office was also burnt and damaged, and he seemed to have lost everything. However, he had one million yen in savings and he was able to start on restoration work immediately.|
|Kurosawa-san continued to work on telegraphic instruments and he was able to make significant advancement. The core of such telegraphic instruments was a "teletypewriter" His tireless research and efforts to realize his long-held dream, his skills he gained in the U.S., his passion about kana typewriters and his tenacity to find solutions yielded results. Teletypewriters have become major products of the factory.|
|When producing instruments, he paid attention to basics and studied closely how they were used. His interest was not the appearance of products or how products looked on the surface. He made every effort to make sure there was no inconvenience or trouble for the customer in using the product. Customer satisfaction was very important to him.|
|Go to the cutting room at his factory. You can tell that he has made sure cards are cut precisely and accurately. Cards cut at his factory do not change in size even after 10 years. As a cover of a book, a thick cardboard covered with cloth is used. Kurosawa-san once told me how would use multiple thin cardboards placed lengthwise and widthwise alternately to make a thick cardboard for the cover. He explained the layered cardboard was stronger than a single layer cardboard. He made sure that all the work was done scrupulously and conscientiously even in hidden places. This sincerity and integrity brought success. In addition, he worked hard, diligently and with very clear vision.|
|Kurosawa-san and I nurtured friendships close to 50 years. I should also mention late Ami Saemon. My brother asked me if I could employ Ami Saemon, who was his friend’s friend. Ami-san was a country boy, who just graduated from Utsunomiya Junior High. At the time, Roku Roku just hired two young staff and I did not have any position to offer. I decided to find another employer. I talked to Kurosawa-san about this young boy. He said that he had been asked to find an English typist, who would work at Maizuru Navy Base. He said that if the boy had graduated from Junior High, there was a good chance that he would be trained to become a typist with one month training. The condition was that he would put up for at least 3 years.|
|Ami-san finished training in 20 days rather than one month. He worked from 8:00 in the morning till 5:00 in the afternoon with just a 15-minute lunch break. After working in the Navy base, he became an employee of Kurosawa because of his diligence and hard work. He won the trust of Kurosawa-san. He worked for more than 10 years at Kurosawa but then he developed tuberculosis and died.|
|He left his wife and two children. Kurosawa-san told me that he would have the bereaved family stay at the company housing. He said that for a loyal employee he would do whatever he could. His bereaved wife was able to saw and able to earn some money. His bereaved family lived happily in the company housing for twenty years. His children have grown to be engineers at the telephone office. They were very thankful to Kurosawa-san for his kindness and generosity.|
|Kurosawa-san. You were a man of strong will and you were a strong leader. Yet you showed compassion and generosity to a loyal employee like Ami-san. I pay the greatest respect to you and extend my greatest appreciation to you. I would like to express my deepest condolences. Thank you.|
|Remembering Teijiro Kurosawa by Seizo Ouchi
|Always smiling Kurosawa-san, pioneer of the Japanese kana typewriter in Japan, developer of the Japanese typewriter and the Japanese teleprinter machine. Kurosawa-san has left behind great achievements in the telecommunications industry of Japan. He has run a model factory maintaining harmonious and cooperative labor relations based on the concept of extended family. His death is a great loss for the industry and I would like to hereby commemorate his life and his great achievements.|
|Life of Strenuous and Ceaseless Efforts
Kurosawa-san was born on January 5, 1875 in Mito, Japan. Soon he moved to Tokyo. His childhood was a difficult one, and he nurtured his independent spirit since he was very young. When he was in primary school, a teacher asked him to write a short sentence containing difficult kanjis. Much to his regret, he failed to write kanjis correctly. He then started to question the need to learn such complicated kanjis. He formed a plan of going to the U.S., a major industrial power, and to succeed in life. His interest in Japanese characters stayed with him even after he went to the U.S.
|He left for Seattle when he was only 16. In Seattle, he saved up doing odd jobs and with small savings, he made a much anticipated trip to New York. He found a job at a typewriter manufacturer. He worked hard tirelessly and unrelentingly day and night. He was admired by all for his hard work and tenacity. He learned how to assemble and repair typewriters on the job. He learned basic theories on making of the typewriter on the job by himself. Recalling the primary school episode where he could not write the kanjis, he thought how good it would be if there was a typewriter which could type Japanese characters. If you add uppercase and lowercase alphabets and symbols, the number of letters and symbols is around 50, which is about the same number of letters as Japanese kana. He worked hard trying to develop a Japanese kana typewriter. With cooperation from his employer, Elliott & Hatch Book Typewriter, Kurosawa-san developed a Japanese kana typewriter at Elliot & Hatch plant. Jiji Shinpo Newspaper dated August 3, 1899 showed a photo of kana-typewriter along with a caption "Japanese letter typewriter".|
|In 1901, he returned to Japan with typewriters and an exclusive sales agency agreement. He was only 26 then. He was able to see future potential of typewriters. He was a true visionary ahead of his time.|
|The day after he returned to Japan, he visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sell his typewriters. He visited the Ministry without any letters of introduction, but people at the Ministry were so impressed by the youth’s sincerity and passion that they agreed ti purchase one typewriter. With this as a start, he visited potential customers, explained benefits of using typewriters persistently and passionately, and gradually expanded his business. With his hard work and dedication, he grew his business. His business grew such that he built and opened a store in Ginza in 1912. The building in Ginza was designed by Kurosawa-san himself. Kurosawa-san himself managed the construction of the building, which became the first reinforced concrete building in Japan.|
|He aspired to manufacture typewriters in Japan and acquired the land in Kamata to build a factory in 1912. The factory was completed in 1918, but it was severely damaged by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. It was reconstructed in 1928.|
|Kurosawa-san and the Ministry of Telecommunications, or telecommunications business in Japan worked closely together. Creating a prototype of Japanese typewriter and successfully producing Japanese teleprinters and put them to commercial use were two of his great achievements.|
|One of the very important steps in advancement of telecommunications in Japan is the use of Japanese typewriters. Around 1911, paper tape machine was used to receive telegrams. Osaka Central Telecommunications Office started to use English typewriters in 1914 to print incoming English telegrams. The Osaka Central Telecommunication Office decided to use typewriters for Japanese telegrams as well. In 1917, the telegram office asked Teijiro Kurosawa to develop a prototype of Japanese typewriter with a keyboard fit to print Japanese telegrams using the L.C. Smith typewriter as the base.|
|The prototype was completed in April of 1917. The trial proved the usefulness of such Japanese typewriter. It was put in commercial use on June 21, 1917 at the Osaka Central Telecommunications Office to print Japanese telegrams. Necessary improvements and modifications were since made to the original model. The use of typewriter proved to be successful and in 1924, typewriters were used in all telecommunications offices in Osaka to print incoming telegrams. The use of typewriters then spread to other offices throughout the nation and promoted advancement of telecommunications.|
|Development of Japanese typewriter and Kurosawa-san’s achievements were recognized by the Japanese Government. Kurosawa-san was awarded the Medal with Green Ribbon for his contribution in the business sector on November 17, 1928 during the enthronement ceremony of the Emperor. The testimonial read, "You went to the U.S. and studied mechanical engineering on the job. You developed the Japanese typewriter after much hardship. You have succeeded in your endeavors and you have set an example for others to follow, and to honor your achievements, the Medal of Green Ribbon is awarded."|
|Since in the U.S., teleprinters were used commercially, the Ministry of Telecommunications started to show interest in developing a Japanese teleprinter The Ministry trialed a Japanese teleprinter which had been converted from a page telegraph typewriter of Kleinschmidt Electric Company in the U.S. The trial was successful and in 1927, teleprinters were installed in major telegraph offices in Tokyo, Osaka and others. However, the cost of such U.S.-built teleprinters was prohibitively high and the plan to develop and manufacture Japanese teleprinters in Japan was formed in 1930. Under the leadership of Mr. Suteji Suzuki and Mr. Shinjiro Shimada, the Telegraph and Telephone Technology Study Committee of the Telecommunications Ministry prepared the specifications for the Japanese teleprinter. On July 1, 1932, the Committee invited six vendors, including Kurosawa, NEC, Oki, Anritsu, Mehashi and Inoue, explained the specifications, the volume of planned purchase in the first year and asked them to provide "design-on-trial" within six months.|
|Only Kurosawa and two other vendors submitted the design-on-trial within the due date, and others declined to submit. The Study Committee then asked the six vendors to each submit a prototype by December 26, 1933, and it was only Kurosawa which successfully submitted the prototype within the due date.|
|At the time, Kurosawa’s Kamata Factory was the only factory for telegraph typewriters in Japan. Atsuro Shono, Factory Director, who had much experience and expertise in mechanical engineering and Mr. Shuntaro Matsuo, who joined Kurosawa from the Ministry of Telecommunications successfully developed and completed the Matsuo-model telegraph printer. As the prototype, Kurosawa submitted this Printing Tele-write Telegraph machine. For 10 months from January, 1934, engineers worked out the trial specifications and conducted detailed tests. As the result of testing, it was found that the telegraph receiving device which was converted from a Smith Typewriter by making it work electrically required fundamental changes in design to put the device in commercial use.|
|The Ministry of Telecommunications then decided to send more engineers to Kurosawa. Two engineers, Messrs. Nagatani and Nishikawa were selected. The reinforced team with additional resources from the Ministry worked hard to complete the prototypes. With the second set of prototypes, the team was successful in producing commercial models for a keyboard punching device and a transmission device. However, the team was not successful in producing a commercial model for a telegraph receiving device since the design became too complicated to avoid breaching of foreign patents.|
|Kurosawa-san and his team of engineers worked hard to overcome technical difficulties. The third set of prototypes was completed and submitted in October of 1936. Again thorough tests were conducted. The team has finally been able to produce prototypes which might be put in commercial production and use. After 5 years of hard work since the announcement of the plan to manufacture in Japan, the first commercial models were produced in 1937. It was put in commercial use on November 3 for telegraph service between Tokyo and Osaka.|
|It was unprecedented that in such a short time of 5 years, engineers successfully completed domestic machine. It was the result of Kurosawa-san’s dedication and spirit of service and hard work of employees of Kurosawa Factory and all other concerned people.|
|With the advancement in telegraph technology, engineers at the Factory started to develop a prototype of telegraph receiving punching device in 1940, but the work was temporarily suspended with the outbreak of war. The device was finally completed and put into commercial use in 1949.|
|At the Kurosawa Factory, Kurosawa-san successfully developed and completed a 6-bit punch machine, automatic telegraph transmission machine, automatic telegraph receiving machine and telegraph punching receiving machine. Especially the fact that it successfully manufactured the 6-bit Japanese telegraph printer in Japan was an outstanding milestone in the Japanese history of telecommunications.|
|Sense of Responsibility on Products|
|The relationships between Kurosawa-san and the Ministry of Telecommunications went beyond development of prototypes. Kurosawa-san provided training on typewriter operators. Kurosawa-san volunteered to provide such training dozens of time from 1923 to June of 1943. Training on teleprinters was also provided many times.|
|Kurosawa-san provided lodging at company housing and food for trainees during one-month training.|
|There is one episode that I would like to share. Kurosawa produced a customized typewriter for Emperor Hirohito. Emperor Hirohito was a biologist and needed a typewriter which could print small Japanese kana and alphabets on a card for his research. Kurosawa Factory produced and delivered the customized typewriter to the Emperor. The factory kept a similar model as a backup and is now stored at the factory.|
|Now Kurosawa-san's name has become synonymous with typewriters. Kurosawa-san took pride in his products and assumed full responsibility for his products. Everybody knows that Kurosawa-san's products are of the highest quality. His philosophy is that he would do everything to make sure that his products are of the highest quality. To provide after-sale service on his typewriters, he himself visited customers with a toolbox. The Kurosawa Factory still keeps this toolbox that Kurosawa-san carried when he visited his customers to maintain and repair the typewriters.|
|He was very strict about the quality of his products. He was stubborn about using the highest quality materials to produce his products. "You need to use Swedish steel for this particular component," he would say. He would not use any materials or components unless he was fully satisfied with the quality.|
|During the war and right after the war, he did not meet the rising demand of the Ministry of Telecommunications for typewriters and teleprinters because he wanted to produce only highest quality products and did not want to mass produce products of inferior quality. He wanted to take full responsibility of his products.|
|Model Facilities at Kurosawa Factory|
|Another outstanding achievement of Kurosawa-san is exemplary facilities at the Kurosawa Factory and his management style. He had an idea that he would build a community for his employees and their families so they would live in peace. He treated his employers as part of the extended family, and eliminated any discrimination between management and labor.|
|Very modern Kurosawa Typewriter Factory was built near the Kamata station and occupied the 500,000 square meters of land. It was like a village with Kurosawa-san serving as a mayor of the village. Employees are like brothers and sisters. They work happily together. The factory is open and welcomes anyone who would come. There are no signs prohibiting people from entering the compound. There is no security guard. The factory is open and spacious. There are no VIP guest rooms. The place is very orderly and clean. The place is full of light and very well designed as a factory. It reflected Kurosawa-san's philosophy.|
|Currently there are approximately 150 employees. If you count their family members, there are about 400 people living in the village. He provided very comfortable housing to his employees and their families in the village. Because of the war, schools are now gone but there were elementary school and kindergarten. There were playroom, library and other facilities, and it was very clear that Kurosawa-san put much efforts to provide education to children.|
|All the people who visited the Kurosawa Factory were very impressed and always asked the same question. Kurosawa-san's reply was always the same.|
|(Quote from Kurosawa-san's speech.)|
|"I often have visitors to the factory. Visitors ask me if I have any personal beliefs and they ask me about financial resources. I really do not have a grand plan, nor do I have large financial resources. I myself am amazed that I have come this far with such an easygoing attitude. I feel humbled and grateful. It was like a good seed found a good land, began to sprout, became a seedling, and grew to be a fine tree. With many blessings, the tree branched out with rich foliage."|
|"I built a company dining hall. I do whatever I can for the benefits of my employees. I am not doing this to patronize my employees. I did not even finish primary school because I had to work due to family circumstances. I did not want children of my employees to go through the same hardships I went through. I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure children finish primary school and so I built a school for them. There is a dining hall at the factory. Employees live close to the Factory and they can go home to have meals with their families. However, I thought that it would be good for the employees to have small meals with their coworkers, and I built a dining hall at the Factory. Over meals, employees can reminisce about old days, talk how far we have come, and get to know one another better."|
|"With regard to employee housings, since house rents were very high I thought that if I built employee housings, it would help my employees. I added one house to another. You also find many trees in the property. You might think that I spent lots of money planting trees. Some I did plant seedlings, but many of the trees have grown from the seeds. It was the passage of time, nature and good care that helped trees grow so big. There is a primary school and a kindergarten. I built schools to provide basic education."|
|"I did not have a large fund to build facilities for my employees. I just built them bit by bit with whatever money that was
available. I myself am amazed that I have been able to accomplish this much. This was accomplished painstakingly with the hard work of all
the people. It is not just my accomplishment alone."
(This ends the quote from his speech.)
|The employee housing rent is 4 yen, 5 yen or 15 yen, including electric power and water. At Kurosawa, housing rents are not automatically deducted from monthly salaries. Employees need to pay the rents separately. There are no labor-management conflicts. There are employees whose children also work at Kurosawa. There are even cases where grandchildren work as well. All people respected and loved Kurosawa-san. Kurosawa-san treated all employees as part of his extended family. The Factory has become an ideal Factory based on the familistic value.|
|Kurosawa-san was ranked number 1 or 2 richest person, or highest taxpayer in the past in Japan. He was a top taxpayer because he believed that paying taxes was to serve the country. He never borrowed money from the bank or never issued a draft. We can learn from his management style. He was a man of virtue. He is a man to be noted among other self-made men.|
|He was a man of strong will. Faced with challenges, he would take the leaderships and set an example. He would put all his efforts to accomplish whatever undertakings he had started. He worked hard. The only time he took a day off was on the New Year’s day. Even on Sundays or holidays, he was at work in the Factory at 8:00 before the work start time of 8:30AM. Even when there was a heavy snowfall last year and all public transportation was suspended, he came to the Factory on foot from his home in Chofu-minemachi.|
|Kurosawa-san led a frugal life. He would wear the same black business suit and the same pair of black leather shoes for many years. He would not ride a car. He believed that walking was good for his health. He was careful about what he ate. He believed in "chewing well". One of his favorites was beer.|
|He read the Bible well. However, his religious view was free and flexible. He was ready to adopt whatever was appropriate for the occasion. He would conduct "Jichinsai", a ceremony to purify the building site in Shinto way. He would host a wedding ceremony in Christian way.|
|The Kurosawa building in Ginza was taken over by the U.S. Red Cross right after the war. After the building had been returned, Kurosawa-san would come to the building everyday in the afternoon and devoted all his energy restoring the building to its original state. He himself used a trowel to work on the building.|
|The work probably exhausted him. Or it was the cold that he suffered the end of December which triggered a stroke. On New Year’s day, when all his family members gathered to exchange greetings, he was especially looking joyous and reminisced about old days. He reminisced about his primary school episode, how he worked hard restoring the Ginza building after it was released by the U.S. Red Cross. He had the stroke that night.|
|He regained consciousness after a few days but never recovered fully. He passed away at 4:45am on January 26, 1953 surrounded by his close family members. He was 78 years old.|
|On his deathbed, his sons had given him beer which Kurosawa-san liked so much. He used to say that he would live to the age of Mr. Mikimoto, founder of Mikimoto Pearl. Kurosawa-san achieved success and fame. His death is a great loss to the nation and I would like to extend my deepest regret.|
|The funeral service was held at 1:30 in the afternoon on February 2 at the Kurosawa Building, which is filled with his memories. Many mourners attended the funeral service. Mr. Oshima, gave an opening remarks, Reverend Kishida read the passage from the Bible, followed by a chorus of hymns. Bereaved families, representatives of employees, his friends and business partners offered incense. Chairman of Nippon Telegram and Telephone, Chairman of Rotary Club Tokyo and Chancellor of Doshisha University gave condolence speeches. Condolence telegrams were then read followed again by a chorus of hymns. Mr. Oshima then ended the ceremony with a speech.|
|It was noted that where his photo was placed was where Kurosawa-san used to sit in the office. The gold tie pin put on the black ribbon on the white cloth was given by Stockholm Rotary Club under the name of the Swidish King commemorating his 70th birthday. It was one and only tie pin given to a member of the Rotary Club in Japan recognizing his greatest contribution.|
|The memorial service was then opened to the public from 2:00 to 3:00. Approximately 1,500 people came and gave incense as the choir sang hymns. Mourners walked through the display of photos of his inventions. It was not a memorial service with full of stiff formality. The service fit Kurosawa-san’ style well.|
|On February 23, 1953, the Japanese Government awarded Kurosawa-san with the "Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure" for his great achievements. It was rare that a business person receives this honor and it proves his great accomplishments.|
|Left behind are his wife, his 3 sons and 4 daughters. They are all in good health and remain active in respective fields. I sincerely hope that they will follow their father’s example and contribute to the advancement of the telecommunications business of Japan. I wish for their good health and success.|