Abstract: Nestlé Coping with Japanese Nationalism: The Establishment and Maintenance Strategy of a Foreign Multinational Enterprise in Japan, 1913-1945

Pierre-Yves Donzé and Takafumi Kurosawa


This presentation focuses on the strategy adopted by Nestlé in Japan between the establishment of a branch at Yokohama in 1913 and the end of World War II. It highlights the difficulties encountered by the firm in its attempts to open up and operate production facilities due to strong opposition from local condensed milk makers, supported by the state. Eventually, in 1934, Nestlé opened a factory by founding an incorporated company, ARKK, all of whose shareholders were Japanese working for Nestlé. This particular organization, with a Japanese company producing condensed milk and a Swiss company selling it, can be explained by the double necessity to hide the foreign ownership of the plant, on the one hand, and to use at the same time the foreign character of the brand ("Nestlé," "Anglo-Swiss," etc.) toward consumers, on the other hand. Although the war drastically curtailed the activities of both Nestlé Japan and ARKK, the organizational facilities set up during the interwar period provided a springboard for Nestlé's postwar success in Japan.