Showa Denko

Showa Denko

Showa Denko K. K. (昭和電工株式会社 Shōwa Denkō Kabushiki-gaisha) is a leading Japanese chemical engineering firm.

Formed in 1939 by the merger of Nihon Electrical Industries and Showa Fertilizers, Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) manufactures chemical products and industrial materials. SDK's products serve a wide array of fields ranging from heavy industry to the electronic and computer industries. The company is divided in five business sectors: petrochemicals (olefins, organic chemicals, plastic products), aluminum (aluminum cans, sheets, ingots, foils), electronics (semiconductors, ceramic materials, hard disks), chemicals (industrial gases, ammonia, agrochemicals), and inorganic materials (ceramics, graphite electrodes). Showa Denko has more than 180 subsidiaries and affiliates including Showa Denko America in New York, NY, USA. The company has vast overseas operations and a joint venture with Netherlands-based Montell and Nippon Petrochemicals to make and market polypropylenes. In March 2001, SDK merged with Showa Denko Aluminum Corporation to strengthen the high-value-added fabricated aluminum products operations, and is today developing next-generation optical communications-use wafers.

Showa Denko is a member of the Mizuho keiretsu.


  • History 1
  • Group Companies 2
  • Petrochemicals Sector 3
  • Chemicals Sector 4
  • Electronics Sector 5
  • Inorganics Sector 6
  • Aluminium Sector 7
  • Controversy 8
    • Niigata Minamata disease 8.1
    • Tryptophan contamination 8.2
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Prior to World War II it was a part of the Mori group of companies as Showa Fertilizer (昭和肥料 Shōwa Hiryō). It was founded by Nobuteru Mori in the early 1930s, and opened the first ammonium sulfate factory in Japan in April 1931.


  • Dec. 1908 Sobo Marine Products K.K. was established by Showa Denko (SDK) founder, Nobuteru Mori, to manufacture and sell iodine in Chiba Prefecture. Sobo Marine Products subsequently developed into Nihon Iodine K.K.
  • Oct. 1926 Nihon Iodine K.K. was establilshed.
  • Apr. 1928 Showa Fertilizers K.K. was established.
  • Mar. 1934 Nihon Iodine K.K. was renamed as Nihon Electrical Industries K.K.
  • Jun. 1939 Nihon Electrical Industries and Showa Fertilizers merged to form Showa Denko K.K.
  • May. 1949 SDK was listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange.
  • Sept. 1951 SDK was awarded the first Deming Prize.
  • 1968 Dumped mercury in the Agano River, which caused widespread mercury poisoning[1]
  • Apr. 1969 Oita Petrochemical Complex started commercial operation.
  • Mar. 1977 Second expansion project of ethylene production capacity was completed at SDK Oita Petrochemical Complex.
  • Feb. 1986 SDK withdrew from its domestic aluminum smelting business.
  • Nov. 1989 Hard Disk Plant No. 1 completed in Chiba.
  • Jan. 1995 Omachi Works obtained ISO 9001 certification.
  • May. 1997 Production Technology Center obtained ISO 14001 certification.
  • Mar. 2001 SDK merged with Showa Aluminum Corporation.
  • Sept. 2003 Japan Polyolefins Co., Ltd. and Japan Polychem Corporation integrated the polyethylene businesses and established a new joint venture company.
  • Jul. 2004 Trace Strage Technology Corp., become a consolidated subsidiary.
  • Nov. 2004 SDK announced to produce high-power blue LED chips.
  • Mar. 2005 SDK sold shares in SDS Biotech K.K. via MBO scheme.
  • Jul. 2005 SDK started production of world's first perpendicular magnetic recording technology HD media.
  • Jan. 2006 SDK opened new medium-term consolidated business plan "PASSION Project" for the 2006-2008 period.
  • Sept. 2006 SDK opened new aluminum cylinders plant in Oita.
  • Dec. 2006 SDK opened new hard disk media plant in Singapore.
  • Feb. 2007 SDK develops new crystal growth technology for GaN-based blue/white LEDs.
  • Sept. 2007 SDK opened its second neodymium-based alloys plant in China.
  • Jun. 2008 Showa Tansan Co., Ltd. become a consolidated subsidiary.

Group Companies

Hard Disc Media

  • Showa Denko HD Pte., Ltd.


  • Showa Highpolymer Co., Ltd.


  • Nippon Polytech Corp.


  • Showa Titanium Co., Ltd.
  • Showa Denko Kenso Co., Ltd.
  • Tohoku Metal Chemical Co., Ltd.


  • Showa Aluminum Can Corp.
  • Showa Denko Aluminum Trading K.K.
  • Showa Denko Packaging Co.,Ltd.

Electronics, other

  • Showa Engineering Co., Ltd.
  • Showa Denko Kenzai K.K.
  • Shoko Co., Ltd.
  • Fuyo Perlite Co., Ltd.
  • Union Showa K.K.

Petrochemicals Sector

The Petrochemicals Sector supports the growth of Showa Denko's basic business through the manufacture and sales of organic chemicals, olefins and specialty polymers.

SDK is the leader of the Asian ethyl acetate market.The Oita Plant, the main manufacturing base, supplies SDK and other chemical companies with the basic materials for making acetyl derivatives, synthetic resin, synthetic rubber, and styrene monomers.

Innovative products include a new heat-resistant, transparent sheet and film that can be used in flexible displays such as electronic paper and organic EL displays.

Chemicals Sector

Originally focused on general-purpose industrial gases, medical gases, and industrial chemicals, SDK now provides a variety of products including high-purity gases and chemicals for the semiconductor industry. As the semiconductor industry shifted to other Asian locations, SDK established overseas specialty gases production sites in Shanghai and Singapore.

The company also offers an array of technologies and products covering various fields, including food additives, feed additives, cosmetic ingredients, medical and agricultural intermediates, optical-function materials, information-recording materials, functional polymeric materials, differentiated composite material, and liquid chromatography equipment (Shodex).

SDK recently launched an environmental initiative to reduce waste and encourage chemical recycling.

Electronics Sector

The Electronics Sector includes compound semiconductors, rare earth magnetic alloys, solid aluminum capacitors, and hard disks.

The compound semiconductors business deals with the crystal growth process, providing a wide range of products including Ultrabright LED Chips as well as blue LED Chips.

The solid aluminum capacitor business relies on conductive polymers, a combination of inorganic aluminum materials with organic polymers. The products offer with high heat resistance and high capacitance.

The electronics sector also produces aluminum-based and glass-based hard disks as well as aluminum substrates for hard disks. In September 2008 SDK announced a consolidation their hard disk (HD) media operations by establishing a joint venture with Hoya corporation in January 2009. The joint venture, will owned about 75% by SDK and about 25% by HOYA.However this joint venture ended in March 2009 due to the rapid deterioration of the global economy in the Hard Disk Sector.

Inorganics Sector

The Inorganics Sector consists of the Ceramics Division, Carbons Division and Fine Carbon Department.

  • Ceramics Division

SDK's Ceramics products are used in a wide range of fields, including chemical products, refractory products, ceramics, paper manufacture, plastics and electronics. Key products include alumina hydroxide, alumina, and high-purity alumina. SDK also produces fused alumina abrasive grains, silicon carbide and boron nitride.

  • Carbons Division

SDK produces artificial graphite electrodes, an indispensable material for the recycling of steel. Other products include fine carbulizing agents for iron casting.

  • Fine Carbon Department

In addition to VGCFTM carbon nanofibers and fuel battery materials already on the market, SDK is focusing R&D efforts on high-functionality carbon products, including battery materials, electronics materials, and materials for alternative energy solutions.

Aluminium Sector

Condensers for automobile air conditioners are manufactured in the Showa Aluminium Czech factory in Kladno, Czech Republic

SDK produces heat exchangers, beverage cans, and other high value-added fabricated products from aluminum materials (including rolled, extruded and forged products).


Niigata Minamata disease

The company is known for causing the Agano River.

Tryptophan contamination

In the 1980s Showa Denko applied genetic engineering to the bacteria it used in the fermentation through which it manufactured tryptophan so that the bacteria would be more efficient.[2] At the same, they also changed the technique used to purify the tryptophan.[3]:327–328 Some epidemiological studies[2][4][5] traced an outbreak of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) to L-tryptophan supplied by Showa Denko.[6] It was further hypothesized that one or more trace impurities produced during the manufacture of tryptophan may have been responsible for the EMS outbreak.[7][8] The fact that the Showa Denko facility used genetically engineered bacteria to produce L-tryptophan gave rise to speculation that genetic engineering was responsible for such impurities.[9] However, the methodology used in the initial epidemiological studies has been criticized.[10][11] An alternative explanation for the 1989 EMS outbreak is that large doses of tryptophan produce metabolites which inhibit the normal degradation of histamine and excess histamine in turn has been proposed to cause EMS.[12] Once the link between EMS and Showa Denkos tryptophan had been established, chemical analyses of the tryptophan was performed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Japanese National Institute of Hygienic Sciences to determine if any contaminants were associated with EMS.[13] Showa Denko reportedly destroyed the GM bacterial stocks after the EMS cases began to emerge.[14]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Edward A Belongia, MD. Toxic Tryptophan? Investigating the Eosinophila Myalgia Syndrome in Minnesota. Chapter 26 in Cases in Field Epidemiology: A Global Perspective. Ed Mark Dworkin. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011
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  6. ^ U. S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements. February 2001 FDA Information Paper on L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan
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External links

  • (English) Showa Denko