Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. History
Skinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-01
Telephone: 81 (03) 3266-2111
Incorporated: 1876 as Sh¯ueisha
Sales: $10.6 billion (2001)
Stock Exchanges: Tokyo Osaka Nagoya Luxembourg Amsterdam
Ticker Symbol: DNPCY
NAIC: 323119 Other Commercial Printing; 516110 Internet Publishing and Broadcasting; 334419 Other Electronic Component Manufacturing
DNP, Dai Nippon Printing, was established in 1876 as the first full-scale printing company in Japan. Always applying and developing its printing technology, the Company has expanded and diversified its operations to include packaging, decorative materials, electronic components and information media supplies. The wide variety of DNP products and services are essential to our daily lives. In addition, these products and services which enrich our lives are now taken for granted in every aspect of our society. By combining its innovative technology and expertise, DNP offers products and services that fulfill dreams, ensure a more enjoyable livelihood, and afford better communication.
- Dai Nippon is founded as Sh¯ueisha in Tokyo.
- The company updates its equipment, installing a steam motor to run its presses, thus becoming the first private-industry user of steam power in Japan.
- The Company changes its name to Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.
- Dai Nippon Printing Company International, Ltd. is established in Hong Kong; the company builds a plant in Hong Kong, primarily to serve U.S. publishers.
- Dai Nippon establishes P.T. Dai Nippon Printing Indonesia, mainly to produce food packaging and decorative cartons for the Indonesian market.
- The company opens an information-media supplies division and founds the Information Media Supplies Research Laboratory in Saitama, Japan.
- The company forges an agreement with the Japanese division of Microsoft whereby Dai Nippon's smartcards will be applicable to Microsoft's Windows operating system and backed by Microsoft's technical support.
Japan's first modern printing company, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) eventually became the largest printing company in the world. Until World War II its only activity was the printing of publications. It now also engages in commercial printing, packaging, decorative interiors, electronics, business forms, and a range of information technology products. Dai Nippon is an industry leader in high-tech areas such as precision parts, computerized printing, and color filters for laptop computer displays. At the end of the 20th century, with demand for traditional printing materials on the decline, the company invested heavily in research and development to diversify its portfolio of high-tech products, including single-chip "smartcards." Dai Nippon remains the world's largest comprehensive printing company.
At the Forefront of Modern Japanese Printing: 1876-1900
Dai Nippon was founded as Sh¯ueisha in Tokyo in 1876. Japan's modernization process was just beginning. As it took hold, more newspapers and documents were printed and Sh¯ueisha grew. The only modern Japanese printing firm at the time, it was well positioned to get this business. It printed virtually all the metropolitan newspapers, its only competition being tiny printing houses which used wood blocks. Sh¯ueisha initially printed movable type by hand, but in 1884 the company updated its equipment, installing a steam motor to run its presses, thus becoming the first private-industry user of steam power in Japan. From then on new techniques and improved equipment were added constantly as Japan's papermaking and publishing industries grew. In 1874 Japan manufactured only 35,000 pounds of paper. In 1884 it manufactured 5.3 million pounds, and in 1894, 36 million pounds. Most of that paper was used for printing, much of which was done by Sh¯ueisha, at least until 1900 when its chief rival, Toppan Printing, was formed.
Many printing innovations were imported from the West. The Japanese government, which coordinated the modernization drive, imported foreign printing specialists to train Japanese printers. By 1887 gas and electric printing presses were in use. The rotary press appeared in 1889 for newspaper printing, and in 1899 for magazines. Research on the uses of photo copperplates was begun in 1887, and these plates were used for newspaper printing by 1903. In 1912 offset and photogravure printing equipment were imported from the West.
Early 20th-Century Printing Industry Boom
The Sino-Japanese War of 1894 created an increase in printing orders and demand for paper as more newspapers were read and more documents needed. A slump in printing and papermaking followed the end of the war in 1901, but in 1904 the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War increased the demand for newspapers and magazines. Japan defeated China and Russia. A period of military and economic expansion began, assisted by a modern currency system, established during the 1880s. As the economy grew, so did the demand for printing.
Printing boomed during World War I. By 1927 printing and publishing were approaching Western scales; nearly 20,000 new book titles and 40 million magazines were published that year. In 1935 the company changed its name to Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.
During the 1930s Japan was ruled by an increasingly repressive military dictatorship that suppressed publishers and writers and banned books, making printers cautious about what they printed. Publishing, and thus printing, did not flourish in such an atmosphere. Paper shortages and the devastation of the Japanese economy during World War II further hurt the printing industry. The industry recovered fairly quickly after the war, however, growing rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. The most important printing during the boom was encyclopedias and the complete works of authors. Periodical printing was also important. Dai Nippon was growing at about 6 percent a year by 1966.
Expanding into Other Industrial Sectors After World War II
After the war Dai Nippon expanded from printing, which accounted for all of its prewar business--into industrial areas, such as packaging, construction materials, and electronic precision devices. The broadened product range let the company expand at times when there was no growth in publications. The company invested heavily in research, setting up its own research plants, before any other Japanese printing company, in Tokyo. By 1991 Dai Nippon had eight research plants in Japan and one overseas. It soon claimed that it could print on anything but water and air.
As Japanese industry began its slow but steady postwar expansion, Dai Nippon took advantage of opportunities in new sectors of the economy. For example, Dai Nippon perfected a technology to print imitation wood grain on the dashboards of cars. Dashboards and other curved surfaces are difficult to print on, but Dai Nippon printed the grains on a water-soluble film, then immersed the dashboard and film together, causing the wood grain to transfer to the dashboard. When the Japanese auto industry began exporting heavily, orders for Dai Nippon's printed dashboards grew. Dai Nippon also moved into electronics and television, producing shadow masks for color television sets using photoprocess and etching technologies, then moving into color filters for liquid crystal display. The televised wedding of Japan's crown prince in 1959 led to a boom in color television sales in Japan and more business for Dai Nippon. Several of Japan's large publishing houses launched new, successful weeklies in 1959, bringing further business to Dai Nippon. The 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games gave the printing industry a boost.
At the same time, U.S. publishers were beginning to use Japanese printing companies because their products cost less than those of U.S. printers. In 1964 the company built a plant in Hong Kong, primarily to print for U.S. publishers, who paid only half what it cost them to print in the United States. Dai Nippon was looking for less expensive labor and equipped the Hong Kong plant with modern European presses. The plant initially confined itself to offset printing, specializing in color work. It established an apprenticeship program that sent young Chinese technicians to Japan for training. This plant, with that of rival Toppan opened in 1962, was the kernel around which the Hong Kong printing industry grew. By the late 1980s the Hong Kong printing industry rivaled that of Japan.
Overseas Expansion and Diversification: 1960s-70s
In 1968 Dai Nippon continued overseas expansion, opening offices in New York and Düsseldorf to promote its printing and binding. Dai Nippon was cautious, however, about expanding into foreign markets too rapidly because company officials believed that printing was closely related to local and community needs. Still, as business continued to expand steadily during the 1970s and 1980s, Dai Nippon launched joint ventures that included printing plants in Singapore and Jakarta, and opened offices that did not include plants in Sydney, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and in Santa Clara, California.
The 1970s brought advances in rotary offset printing, particularly in color. Soon after, U.S. publishers began giving more four-color work to Japanese printers, including Dai Nippon, an industry leader in color printing. The decade also brought computerized typesetting, which changed the Japanese printing industry, making it far more efficient. In 1972 Dai Nippon established P.T. Dai Nippon Printing Indonesia, mainly to produce food packaging and decorative cartons for the Indonesian market. By the 1980s the Indonesian firm also exported to Hong Kong, Singapore, and other areas. Japanese food companies operating overseas also used its services.
By the 1980s the company had diversified into so many kinds of printing and other businesses, that it built new, more specialized research institutes to replace the general ones it had built immediately after the war. Because Dai Nippon manufactured so much food packaging, it used food sanitation experts to help research the best materials for food preservation, and often built the machinery used for packing food. The company, which put about 1 percent of sales into research and development, often developed technologies that it was not at first certain would apply to printing. These technologies, however, were often applied to the printing of non-paper materials. The non-paper sector of the printing industry grew greatly during the 1980s, increasing 20.5 percent in 1986 alone.
Assuming a Leading Role in the Information Age: 1980s-90s
In 1980 Japanese-language word processors came into use, making electronic publishing feasible in Japan. As the 1980s progressed, computers and word-processing programs became popular and less expensive, and by the end of the decade even small businesses could afford a laser printer. Businesses with laser printers had less need for commercial printers, since they could now do small, simple jobs themselves. Because these developments affected its traditional business niche, it was a logical step for Dai Nippon--and competitors like Toppan--to move into information processing. Dai Nippon believed that printing was the first information processing industry, and printing companies therefore should have a leading role in the computer age.
This view was shared by many of Dai Nippon's competitors and by the Paper and Printing Committee of the Industrial Structural Council, an advisory organ of Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry. In 1988 the Paper and Printing Committee released a report predicting a decline in demand for conventional printing, and urging the printing industry to use its knowledge of information processing to contribute to an information-oriented society. The shipment value of printed matter in Japan had reached ¥6.2 trillion in 1986, and the committee predicted that it would continue to grow at an annual rate of 6.5 percent, reaching ¥15 trillion by the year 2000. The committee said printing firms should aim to develop new high-tech printing techniques and information processing.
Dai Nippon had been concentrating on information-related technologies throughout the 1980s. By 1985 the company had developed the technology to manufacture a laser card the size of a credit card to hold information. The card was only 0.76 millimeters thick and used a photosensitive material to read information. While the card was suitable for mass production, there were problems recording information on it. In 1985 the company also developed a computerized printing transfer technology for textiles and a very large screen for projected television, and introduced a credit-card sized calculator developed with Casio Computer.
In 1986 Dai Nippon developed a compact-disc-based telephone directory system, a digital color printer system (together with JVC), and a special aluminum foil top for paper cartons. In 1987 Dai Nippon announced several more developments in information technology. It jointly developed a Japanese-language word processor with a spelling-check facility, introduced a foldable magnetic identification card made of a polyester resin sheet, and signed an agreement to supply American Bank Note with holographic technology and services. It also developed a smart card with 128 kilobit storage capacity and developed the technology to produce urinalysis paper at 20 percent lower than the usual cost. In 1988 Du Pont agreed to sell Dai Nippon's high-precision color printers and transfer materials in the United States, and Dai Nippon revealed that it was investing ¥70 billion a year in research and development.
In 1989 Dai Nippon announced the development of Hi-Vision Static Pictures, a method of converting data into a form used by high-definition television (HDTV). The latter was expected to be the next generation of television sets and an area of tremendous growth during the 1990s. The company also developed sophisticated printing technologies used for high-quality reproductions that were equal to those of Western printing companies. Dai Nippon printed art books in the United States with high-quality color plates using computer technology. Profits for 1989 were $222 million on sales of $6.4 million.
At the end of 1990, Dai Nippon had 20 regional offices in Japan, with 51 sales offices and 21 printing plants, and 11 overseas offices and five overseas plants. Sales and profits increased for the 41st year in a row, although the company suffered from the nationwide labor shortage and struggled to keep up with the rapid transition to an information-oriented society. To make that transition, the company opened an information-media supplies division in 1990 and founded the Information Media Supplies Research Laboratory in Saitama, Japan. One of the division's most important products was its thermal transfer ribbon, used in word processors, fax machines, and bar-code printers; and another was its dye sublimination transfer ribbon, which could print images of almost photographic quality from computer graphics with various printers.
The company also strengthened its production base, investing $486 million to expand its microproducts plant, which constructed audiovisual systems and electronic components, and its business-forms plant, which manufactured various forms for office-automation systems and cards. In the same year, Dai Nippon broke ground for a new research and production center, and bought land in Tokyo and Osaka where it planned to build highly automated manufacturing plants.
Dai Nippon also concentrated on overseas operations in 1990, marketing photomasks through a partnership with Du Pont Photomask. It increased its share in Tien Wah Press--the largest printing company in Singapore, and an important distribution center for southeast Asia--from 31 percent to 85 percent. This made Singapore Dai Nippon's largest overseas printing base. The company moved into the global market for projected-television screens, beginning production in Japan and at the Denmark plant of a new subsidiary, DNP DENMARK. The subsidiary soon bought another Danish company, Scan Screen.
Continuing its progress in the information sector, Dai Nippon began to use satellites to communicate data from its Tokyo headquarters and to distribute its business-oriented television programs, which were part of its work in audiovisual systems. It established the Multimedia Communications Center to work on HDTV, videodisks, and CD-ROMs. The company announced breakthroughs in holograms, computer graphics, and medical imaging. It also began a joint venture in smart cards, called Spom Japan, with France's Bull. The company started mass production of a smart card with one of the world's highest memory levels, aimed mainly at the Japanese market.
As electronic media grew, traditional printing slowed. Dai Nippon sought business in niche-market magazine printing. Because of growth in advertising, business forms, and precise electronic devices, book and magazine printing made up an ever-smaller portion of the company's printing sales during the 1980s. Printing Japanese magazines was good business for printers because many magazines used several kinds of paper and printing techniques in a single issue. Books for Europe and the United States also suffered from the appreciation of the yen, though this decline was partly offset by strong magazine sales in Australia and New Zealand. By 1990, books and magazines accounted for 18 percent of printing sales, commercial printing for 52 percent, and packaging and special printing for 30 percent.
The growth of commercial printing during the late 1980s was fueled by the expanding Japanese economy and its need for business forms, advertising, and credit cards. With more and more Japanese traveling, travel brochures became important. The Japanese trend for household electronics, often containing integrated circuits and other electronic components printed by Dai Nippon, also increased commercial sales. Packaging sales were hampered by changes in the Japanese lifestyle, particularly the trend toward eating out. The demand for packaged daily necessities was at a near-saturation level. Dai Nippon manufactured metal products such as mirror-finished sheets for appliances during the 1980s. The early 1990s found Dai Nippon continuing to expand into new technologies, while maintaining a sizable presence in its traditional printing market.
Entering the 21st Century
Despite signs of economic slowdown in Japan, Dai Nippon continued to report growth in all sectors in 1991. That year the company joined Fujitsu Ltd., Iwanami Shoten Publishers, Sony Corp., and Toppan Printing Co. in the formation of the Epwing group, a consortium to promote 10 to 20 percent growth in CD-ROM electronic publishing in Japan over the next several years. In one example of the lucrative possibilities afforded by CD-ROM electronic publishing, Dai Nippon launched a project in conjunction with NHK Enterprises Inc. in 1992 to compile a CD-ROM collection of still images of the world's most famous museum paintings for display on high-definition television screens. Called the World Museum Series, the project would contain 63 programs on two CD-ROM disks, and be sold for ¥3 million, with its customer base consisting primarily of Japanese museums and schools.
It was a blow to the company's reputation in late 1992, however, when top executives Norio Mizunoya and Tadashi Takehara were implicated in an illegal scheme involving four other companies, including archrival Toppan Printing Co., to fix bids on central government contracts. While historically lenient on antitrust laws, the Japanese government was now seen to be cracking down in response to complaints from foreign companies--especially American--that Japan's centuries-old insider practices presented unfair impediments to imports. Even with the arrests of numerous top executives and government raids on corporate offices, however, most analysts agreed that government antitrust measures were still largely symbolic and would have little effect on Japan's entrenched business networks. By the mid-1990s, Dai Nippon seemed to have weathered the scandal, and was reporting steady profit and sales increases, in spite of the strained Japanese business climate. Company officials said across-the-board cost-cutting measures and savvy promotional activities had contributed significantly to Dai Nippon's gains.
In 1997, Fortune magazine rated Dai Nippon the top Japanese company, ahead of Toyota and Sony. The company remained strongly committed to diversification through its electronics division and established itself as a frontrunner in key emerging markets, especially that for smartcards, also known as integrated-circuit, or IC, cards. Analysts believed that in the first decade of the 21st century the smartcard would become the standard, replacing magnetic strip cards altogether. Dai Nippon was part of MAOSCO, a multi-corporation consortium that announced the development in 1997 of an operating system called "Multos," that would provide smartcard user access not just to financial information and services but to personal identification, travel, media, and telecommunications applications. In an interview with the London Financial Times on May 16, 1997, Michael Keegan, the CEO of Mondex International, the top member of the consortium, predicted, "This will do for smart cards what Windows has done for the personal computer." Two years later, the revolution seemed to be in effect: according to projections, some one million cards based on the Multos platform would be issued worldwide by the end of fiscal 1999. Moreover, Dai Nippon's success in the smartcard arena received a giant boost in September 2000 when it forged an agreement with the Japanese division of Microsoft whereby Dai Nippon's smartcards would be applicable to Microsoft's Windows operating system and backed by Microsoft's technical support. Dai Nippon and Microsoft planned to target a range of customers, including public facilities such as schools, as well as business corporations.
In the early years of the 21st century, while demand for traditional print materials continued to decline, there appeared to be no slowdown in the race for market share in multimedia applications and digitization of content, including everything from electronic catalogues to books to maps. In addition to these avenues, Dai Nippon sought ways of strengthening its Internet-related services, with a long-term view toward Net-only broadcasting and animation distribution services. Dai Nippon remained competitive in the development of liquid-crystal display (LCD) television. With such a broadly diversified portfolio of high-tech products, Dai Nippon seemed to have laid the groundwork for continued leadership among printing companies for the foreseeable future.
Principal Subsidiaries: Hokkaido Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.; Tohoku Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.; Tokai Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.; Shikoku Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.; Kyushu Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.; DNP Media Create Co., Ltd.; DNP Media Create Kansai Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Art Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Uni Process Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Offset Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Ellio Co., Ltd.; I.M.S. Dai Nippon Co., Ltd.; Multi Print Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Seihon Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Technopack Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Technopack Kansai Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Technopack Yokohama Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Fine Electronics Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Precision Device Co., Ltd; Dai Nippon Jushi Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Polymer Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Cup Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Hoso Co., Ltd.; Sagami Yoki Co., Ltd.; SP Dai Nippon Co., Ltd.; DNP AV Center Co., Ltd.; DNP Digitalcom Co., Ltd.; DNP Space Design Co., Ltd.; D-Square Inc.; Dai Nippon LSI Design Co., Ltd.; F.D.P. Dai Nippon Co., Ltd.; DNP Advanced Industrial Supplies Co.,Ltd.; Hokkaido Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Ltd.; The Inctec Inc.; Dai Nippon Shoji Co, Ltd.; D.N.K.Co., Ltd.; Direc Co., Ltd.; Kyoiku Shuppan Co., Ltd.; Trans Art Inc.; DNP Archives.com Co., Ltd.; MyPoint.com Japan Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Accounting System Co., Ltd.; DNP Human Service Co., Ltd.; DNP Techno Research Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Kaihatsu Co., Ltd.; Uzumine Country Club Co., Ltd.; Shiobara Green Village Co., Ltd.; DNP Graphica Co., Ltd.; DNP Data Techno Co., Ltd.; Dai Nippon Printing Kenzai Co., Ltd.; DNP Information Systems Co., Ltd.; DNP Logistics Co., Ltd.; DNP Facility Service Co., Ltd.
Principal Competitors: DuPont Photomasks, Inc.; Quebecor World Inc.; Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.
- Brown-Humes, Christopher, "Smartcard Group Claims Global Lead," Financial Times (London), May 16, 1997, p. 07.
- "Dai Nippon Printing Forms On-line Pre-Press Alliance," Nikkei Weekly, June 26, 1996, p.10.
- "Dai Nippon Printing to Sell Patented Tech to Other Firms Via Internet," AFX-Asia, February 24, 2002.
- "Dai Nippon's Presses Printing up Profit: Company Expects 48th Straight Record Profit Despite Nation's Sagging Business Performance," Nikkei Weekly, March 9, 1998, p.13.
- Frank, Jerome P., "Asia Printers Gearing Up for Move into U.S.," Publishers Weekly, June 29, 1984.
- Harney, Alexandra, "Dai Nippon Sees Profit Boost from US Units," Financial Times (London), September 8, 1998, p. 34.
- "Japan, U.S. Firms Enter Satellite Broadcast Venture," Nikkei Weekly, September 18, 1995, p. 8.
- "Motorola and Dai Nippon Printing to Bring Digital Revolution to Business Forms and Labels," Business Wire, February 22, 2000.
- Okawa, Kenji, "Use of Printing Paper Expands," Business JAPAN, March 1989.
- "Printing Companies Take to Multimedia; Digitization of Contents, Downturn in Printing Prompt Up-Market Moves," Nikkei Weekly, June 28, 1999, p. 11.
- "Printing Firms Involved in Bid-Rigging on Parcel Labels," Japan Economic Newswire, November 21, 1992.
- "Publishing Turning to Digital Chapter; Four Major Companies Preparing to Test Network to Distribute Magazines, Comics, Books Electronically," Nikkei Weekly, October 5, 1998, p. 9.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 57. St. James Press, 2004.