Kuraray was founded in 1926 for the purpose of commercializing synthetic rayon, which was cutting edge technology at the time. In 1950 during the post-World War II period, as Japan's first domestic producer of synthetic fiber based on original Japanese technologies, Kuraray became a world leader in the commercialization of PVA(poval) fiber under the KURALON brand, ushering in Japan's pioneering era in the chemical synthetic fiber industry.
The commercialization of KURALON went forward with a sense of social calling to counter the utter ruin in which Japan's postwar economy found itself. Fibers and textiles were manufactured utilizing domestic technology and resources, including limestone and hydroelectric power, and this contributed to a recovery in the lives of the Japanese people. The industry was recognized as one that contributed to the development of the nation. Though KURALON later ceded ground to polyester and other fibers in general use fields, it is now gaining its own foothold as an industrial material and high-performance fiber that can be used as an alternative to asbestos. Kuraray gained much more than technology and profits through the commercialization of rayon and KURALON. Our responsibility to society is expressed in our mission of "Contributing to the World and Individual Well-being through Actions that Others are Unable to Produce" and in a culture that pursues original technology.
That corporate culture also became the driving force behind Kuraray's expansion of operations into fields based upon polymer and synthetic technologies, such as high-performance fibers and textiles, resins and chemical products. Kuraray launched its poval business in 1958, leading the world in pioneering its use in industrial fields as an adhesive, paper processing agent and resin stabilizer. We developed CLARINO man-made leather in 1965, and in 1970 became the first company in the world to successfully commercialize synthetic isoprene, which has the same structure as natural rubber. These activities highlight our experience as a pioneering Company. EVAL EVOH, which arose out of the development of poval, was commercialized for the first time in the world by Kuraray in 1972. With gas barrier properties that are unrivalled among plastics, EVAL started a revolution around the world with its applications as food packaging and containers as well as fuel tanks for automobiles. What is more, polarization, transparency and other optical properties of poval film—made from poval resin—make it an important material for polarized film, which is indispensable for liquid crystal displays.
In addition to these activities, Kuraray is engaged in a broad array of unique businesses, including isoprene-derived products such as thermoplastic elastomers, pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical intermediates and aroma chemicals, as well as dental materials, activated carbon, MAGIC TAPE and others. At the same time, we are focusing on expanding our lineup of differentiated products in general purpose fields such as methacrylic resin, nonwoven fabrics and polyester fibers and textiles. As a result, our proprietary products that boast top share in their markets compose 50% of our net sales. Overseas sales account for 60% of our net sales. The ratio will rise further with the addition of DuPont’s vinyl acetate business, which was acquired in 2014.
In January 2015, we commenced GS-STEP, Kuraray’s new medium term management plan. As the Company firmly maintains a unique corporate culture of "contributing to the world and individual well-being through actions that others are unable to produce," we will make the Company a high-profit specialty chemical company with a global presence. To do so, Kuraray will promote five main management strategies—Deepening of the core business, Technological innovation, Next-generation growth model, Optimum allocation of management resources and Contribution to the environment—and realize high profitability by bringing the measures implemented during GS-III, the previous medium-term plan, to fruition and robustly building a business foundation that will further expand the Kuraray business.
I believe that understanding the seriousness of global environmental and energy issues, as well as shifting our focus from quantity to quality are essential corporate management issues for the future. we will continue to exert maximum effort in order to fulfill our corporate mission, which reads as follows. "We in the Kuraray Group are committed to opening new fields of business using pioneering technology and contributing to an improved natural environment and quality of life."