Innovation and technology Operational efficiency Social Responsibility

Our origin story

4 min read / May 12, 2021 / Staff Writer


Komatsu’s roots stretch back more than 100 years ago to a lush forest in Japan that was once home to a copper mine, vital to the surrounding community. Our founder, Meitaro Takeuchi, was an entrepreneur with an extraordinary humanitarian vision, committed to enhancing the community’s quality of life, developing future generations and growing with society’s needs. Dedicated to the ideals of education for the people and determined to bring to Japan the latest industrial technology from abroad to help build a competitive, industrial nation, Takeuchi built a company by nurturing his community.

Komatsu is founded

When Takeuchi took over the Yusenji copper mine near Komatsu City, Japan in 1902, he funded projects to mechanize the mining processes and teach new skills to the people in the community. He established schools, sent his staff overseas to learn the latest techniques and purchased machines to help improve mine efficiency. At the same time, he funded and supported a department of science and engineering at Waseda University in Tokyo, as well as a local industrial school to significantly advance educational opportunities and options in the rural areas near Komatsu City.

Takeuchi also knew that the copper deposits in the mine would soon run out and was determined to provide a new source of employment for area residents, so in1917 he established Komatsu Iron Works, a machinery company for the maintaining of mining equipment. In May of 1921, he put together a group of investors and spun off the company to form Komatsu Ltd.

The new company began producing cast steel products, providing employment for many of those who had been dependent on the now-depleted mine. The first product produced was a press in 1924: a one-cylinder sheet-forming machine.

As Takeuchi and his team worked to grow operations, he remained true to his principles: quality first, technology innovation, globalization and development of people.

Though conventional wisdom at the time dictated that the company’s head office should be in Tokyo, Takeuchi felt strongly that the company must remain tied to, and benefit, the rural area where it was founded. He felt that if young people from the country were educated and trained by the company, they would remain loyal, long-time employees. That mutual commitment between company and community has been a vital part of Komatsu’s ability to weather challenges together and form lasting partnerships to meet the ever-evolving needs of society.

In 1931, as the Japanese government sought to mechanize the agricultural industry and transition away from animal-powered production, Komatsu was ready to supply the country with the first crawler farm tractor.

Leading up to World War II when Japanese defense budgets and naval construction increased, Komatsu teams helped fulfill the demand for a wide variety of products required by the military. Once the war ended, the government sought Komatsu’s assistance to increase production of agricultural tractors, plows and other equipment.

By the 1950s, Komatsu’s commitment to creating value through manufacturing and technology innovation went global as the company began exporting products and opening locations in other countries. Motor graders and hydraulic presses for Argentina in 1955 were the first Komatsu exports, followed by exports to China and Indonesia. In 1958 Komatsu founded its first liaison office in India. From 1964 to 1986 the company established offices, manufacturing plants and lasting partnerships with dealers in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. As we expanded around the world, we leveraged the strengths of global production while nurturing local leadership and creating value for the customers we serve, investing in every community and supporting society wherever we worked. With each challenge faced, Komatsu teams pushed forward together, working to innovate, diversify into new markets and expand globally.

The brand legacy lives on

Takeuchi’s vision and strong guiding principles stood the test of time. Through the years, Komatsu’s continued investment in core capabilities and strategic acquisitions have connected smart, diverse people and cutting-edge technologies with a shared belief that partnerships are the best way to solve challenges and meet society’s needs.

Komatsu’s philosophy is passed down from generation to generation through our principles, strategies, The Komatsu Way and the belief that Corporate Social Responsibility is part of our core business and the value we create. In regions across the globe, Komatsu continues to provide products and solutions which address social needs and give back to communities where we do business by leveraging skills and passion of our people. We seek to play an active role in supporting the long-term success of society through sustainable efforts that reach far beyond Komatsu. In line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals we focus on enhancing quality of life through our products, services and solutions which accelerate sustainable infrastructure and energy/resource development, reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact throughout our value chain, developing our own and partners’ employees as well as increasing opportunities for skills development in our communities, and engaging with stakeholders to understand societal needs and work towards social solutions.

From our founding city to the global community in which we operate today, we know we are stronger when we are creating value together.