A railway station was opened for the first time in 1872 in Japan. Running of the U.K make steam locomotive between Tokyo (Shimbashi ) and Yokohama (Sakuragicho Station) astonished people, and make the event epochal in history.
In 1895, Kyoto Electric Railway operated tramcars between Kyoto-Station and Fushimi for the first time, which was the start of the modernization of urban transportation in Japan. Since then, the railway technology in our country made a remarkable progress and the domestic manufacturing of train bodies and rails rapidly advanced. But for main electric equipment including traction motors, and control equipments as a heart of the train, we had to depend on import.
Under such circumstances, World War I began in 1914. During the munitions boom, the electric railway tended to grow and flourish, but the import of important the electric equipments stopped. Then, the tendency to manufacture the electric equipments for vehicles on our own instead of depending on the imported products started and grew in the railway industry, as well as other industries in Japan.
In 1917, Mr. Kaichi Watanabe (the first president of our company) long known as a pioneer of the electric railway industry in Japan, president of then Ishikawajima Ship Building Co, (now called as IHI), and a director of Keihan Electric Railway Co, made technical cooperation with a British company, Dick Kerr & Co., Ltd. (later changed to English Electric Co.), world-famous as an electric machine manufacturer, and subsequently on June 20, 1918, he planned the domestic production of the company's products and established Toyo Denki Seizo K.K. with the capital of 3 million yen.
In the following year, our company constructed its Yokohama Factory in a good location (Nishikubo-machi Hodogaya-ku of Yokohama City), west of the Yokohama Port, then the best prosperous trading port in our Japan. Simultaneously with the factory construction, our company started manufacturing activities, and in 1920, it completed its first control equipments and traction motors and delivered them to Keihan Electric Railway Co. They were well received and it was a good opportunity to start the delivery of the products to main electric railway companies across Japan, thus establishing the position of our company as a specialist manufacturer.
The development of Japan's domestic railway industry was rapidly accelerated by historical developments in the early 19th century, when the outbreak of World War I in 1914 led to interruptions in the supply of electrical equipment from Europe to Japan.
The charter originally establishing Toyo Denki as a company stated that development of Japan's domestic railway industry would help to meet Japanese demand for railway equipment in the face of interruptions in supply from other countries due to the outbreak of World War I, and that a domestic railway industry would create an alternative to imports and prevent the outflow of capital from Japan. The charter also outlined the company's mission of exporting Japanese railway equipment to other countries in the Orient, which would bring in foreign currency and contribute to Japan.
It was decided to name the firm Toyo Denki Seizo (literally "Oriental Electric Manufacturing") to reflect the sweeping vision of developing Japan's domestic railway industry and exporting products to the rest of the Orient, for the benefit of Japan's industrial development.