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Special steel: the backbone of Japan’s monozukuri might

Article - May 8, 2023

“It is said that special steel gives rise to Japanese industries, and we see this as key,” says NSSI president Yoichiro Nakagawa.


Established in 1924, NAKAGAWA SPECIAL STEEL INC. (NSSI) has been supporting Japan’s industrial development as a reputed trader of special steel for almost a century. With a long-established network of partner companies and a long-standing, stable supply chain, today the company provides the special steel to support the growth of new industries and technologies both in Japan and beyond.

Speaking about NSSI’s role as a trading firm within the Japanese manufacturing ecosystem, president Yoichiro Nakagawa stresses the importance of QCD – quality, cost, delivery. “Of course, steel manufacturers conduct QCD, but we complement and enhance it. It can be said that this is the value of NSSI.”

Steel produced by steel manufacturers is delivered to clients in the automobile, construction machinery, and industrial equipment industries through multiple supply chains made up of companies engaged in secondary processing, tertiary processing, parts, and assembly.

“Special steel trading companies such as NSSI have entered these long and complicated supply chains next to steel manufacturers, with the specialized trading companies grasping the QCD required by customers and being able to provide supply-chain SMEs with details or even make adjustments of various requirements to satisfy final users QCD needs. As a result, we believe that good supply chains where trading companies such as ours are located lead to good manufacturing and excellent monozukuri (manufacturing craftsmanship).”

As a very basic material, special steel has applications in various new industries, including electric vehicles, renewable energy, and 5G-related products. “We are going into those markets and many of our customers are also focusing their attention on these markets moving forward,” adds Mr. Nakagawa.

Looking to the future and beyond its imminent 100th anniversary, NSSI – which is also engaged in warehousing, steel processing and the urban development real estate business– aims to strengthen its global presence, particularly in the U.S., Mexico, India and Southeast Asia, where it has already played a notable role in supporting industrial development. “In Southeast Asia since there are existing supply chains of special steel including those built by NSSI for automotive industries, there is space for growth and improvement for our company.”