Air Liquide: 100 years of development in Japan

October 11, 2007

Today, Air Liquide celebrates 100 years of operations in Japan.

With 2,800 employees and over half of the Group’s turnover in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is a strategic market for Air Liquide and a technology platform of the Group (Engineering and R&D) for the whole of Asia. In 2004, the Group based the Global Management of its Electronics business there.

It was in 1907, just five years after the creation of the company in France, that Air Liquide commenced in Japan. It was convinced of the development opportunities in naval and railway construction, which were adopting assembly and metal cutting techniques using oxygen and acetylene. Air Liquide therefore installed its first air separation unit (conceived and developed in France) on the island of Sakura Jima, near Osaka, the industrial capital at that time.

In 1910, Air Liquide created the Oxygen and Acetylene Business of Japan (SOAJ, Société d’Oxygène et d’Acétylène du Japon) and then Teikoku Sanso in 1930, which later became Air Liquide Japan. The industrial gas market developed continuously throughout the 20th century thanks to the permanent introduction of new technology and applications. From the 1980s the booming semiconductor industry offered the Group new opportunities for development.

In 2003, Air Liquide merged its industrial and medical gas businesses with those of one of its competitors: Osaka Sanso Kogyo (a subsidiary of BOC in Japan), and created a joint company: Japan Air Gases. In December 2006, Air Liquide, which already held 55% of Japan Air Gases (JAG) and controlled its management, was presented with the opportunity to takeover the remaining 45%. Consequently, Japan Air Gases became a fully owned subsidiary of Air Liquide.

With a presence throughout Japan, Air Liquide is today number three in the Japanese industrial and medical gas market, with a market share of nearly 20%.