The Japanese beer industry went through significant changes in the early 1900s. The Beer Tax Law, which became effective in 1901, placed severe financial burdens on micro and mini breweries and drove most of them out of business. When Hokkaido-based Sapporo Beer made a foray into Tokyo and surrounding markets in 1903, fierce competition raged among large beer companies, which ventured into each other's territories to maximize sales opportunities. To eliminate cutthroat competition among them, the three large beer companies—Sapporo Beer, Japan Beer Brewery, and Osaka Breweries (formerly Osaka Beer Brewing)—agreed to merge to become DaiNippon Beer in 1906, which took more than 70% of the Japanese beer market at the time.
When DaiNippon Beer approached Japan Brewery with talk of merger, Frank Scott James—Japan Brewery's chairman and managing director—sought advice from Meidiya President Genjiro Yonei. Yonei decided to acquire the foreign-owned Japan Brewery and make it an independent Japanese entity. After obtaining an assurance from Mitsubishi President Hisaya Iwasaki that Mitsubishi would provide financial and human support for his venture, Yonei got the Iwasaki Family (the founding family of Mitsubishi) as well as Mitsubishi and Meidiya people to fund the establishment of Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. on February 23, 1907.
Kirin Brewery carried on the legacy of Japan Brewery and produced beer using raw materials imported from Germany and assisted by German brewers. The company gave Meidiya exclusive rights to continue marketing Kirin beers in Japan and to export them. Kirin Beer enjoyed continued popularity among beer-loving Japanese for its distinctive German taste.
© 2007 Kirin Holdings Company, Limited.