1923 The Great Kanto Earthquake
Offering Electric Wire and Cable at Pre-Earthquake Prices
—The Spirit of Fusu-furi, of Never Pursuing Easy Gains
On September 1, 1923, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 hit the Kanto region, inflicting devastating damage on many facilities and equipment critical to communications and transportation, and affecting many businesses. Restoration from the disaster was extremely difficult. Amidst the situation, Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works*1 was one of the few manufacturers that could supply electric wire and cable, which were essential for reconstruction.
Five days after the earthquake struck, staff members of Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works visited the Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Railways, Tokyo Electric Light, and others to identify what they needed most urgently. Although the staffers were inquired product prices, no precedent existed on which they could set prices for electric wire and related products because the markets for copper, zinc and some other materials used for manufacturing the products were closed. Moreover, as indicated by the issuance of the anti-profiteering act,*2 general prices were also appreciating in the disaster’s ensuing chaos. Nevertheless, believing that the first priority should be on reconstruction, the company decided to deliver their products basically at prices set before the earthquake. Further, to shorten delivery time, they worked round the clock. They continued to receive a rush of orders, but did not raise prices, instead making all-out efforts to contribute to the reconstruction, thus fulfilling their societal responsibility.
Behind this was the spirit of Fusu-furi, of always attaching importance on the public interest and prohibiting the pursuit of easy gains. Since Sumitomo’s establishment, the Sumitomo Spirit has been passed down continuously to the present day.
*1: Present-day Sumitomo Electric
*2: Ordinance established to control cornering and holding back items