Greetings from the organizer by President Fumio Ito

Kuraray Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Fumio Ito) held a ceremony on November 15 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its export of a Vinylon plant to China in Beijing, where the plant was constructed.

The ceremony was attended by approximately 200 people, including guests from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Embassy of Japan in China. Lectures were given by Kenichiro Ohara, the director of the Ohara Museum of Art and son of Soichiro Ohara (Kuraray's second president), and Reiko Kaneda, a visiting associate professor at Waseda University who is conducting research on Soichiro Ohara. A round-table discussion was also held by persons involved in plant export from Japan to China at that time.

1. Exporting a Vinylon plant to China

Li Xikui, secretary general of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries

When a survey group from the Chinese chemical industry visited Japan in 1958, it proposed the export of a Vinylon plant with the goal of increased production for consumer textiles, which led to the beginning of negotiations. At that time, diplomatic relations between Japan and China had not yet been restored, so exporting a plant to China was an unprecedented act. However, in June 1963 Kuraray concluded a plant export contract for the integrated production of Poval and Vinylon. This was the first export of a plant to China based on the Liao-Takasaki Agreement that was concluded in November 1962 between Japan and China.

Former President Soichiro Ohara (front row, third from the left) during his visit to Beijing with former Vice Premier Chen Yi (front row, fourth from the left) and Liao Chengzhi (front row, second from the left)

The Vinylon plant constructed in Beijing

2. What is Vinylon?

  • This synthetic fiber is made from polyvinyl alcohol (Poval). It was developed in 1939 by Kyoto University Professor Ichiro Sakurada and other people.
  • This synthetic fiber—the first in Japan—was named "Vinylon." It was industrialized for the first time in the world by Kuraray in 1950.
  • Vinylon has the best hydrophilic properties of all synthetic fibers, as well as great strength and weather resistance. Accordingly, its positive features include resistance against alkaline materials and acids.
  • Demand is increasing in the European and Japanese construction markets for Vinylon as a cement reinforcing fiber that can be used instead of asbestos. It is expected that Vinylon will also be used in the future in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, as well as Central and South America.
  • Kuraray's Vinylon production base: Okayama Plant (Minami-ku, Okayama)

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