Fujinagata claimed to have been founded in 1689, making it one of the oldest shipbuilders in Japan. Originally called Hyōgo-ya, and located in central Osaka, it was contracted in 1854 by officials representing the Tokugawa shogunate to produce sail warships for the new Tokugawa feudal navy. In 1869, with the assistance of German engineers, the western-style warships were designed and produced.
After the Meiji Restoration, the shipyards concentrated on civilian applications, and in 1870 launched its first western-style commercial steam vessel. This was a first for a privately held shipbuilder in Japan.
In 1900, Fujinagata completed its first all-metal construction merchant vessel; the No.2 Nagata Maru. In 1917, new shipyards in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka were opened. Fujinagata became was designated an official naval repair facility in 1919.
With new naval contracts, Fujinagata moved its head office into new facilities and expanded its capability rapidly. However, it expanded too quickly and soon fell into financial difficulties causing its shipbuilding business to come under the accounting supervision of the Ministry of the Navy of Japan in December 1928. However, Fujinagata was able to weather the turmoil of the Great Depression without significant difficulty.
In 1940, along with most businesses of strategic importance to the Japanese war effort, Fujinagata was nationalized under the Navy Ministry. In December 1944, Fujinagata had 16,508 employees. It is estimated that perhaps half of the employees at that time were ethnic Koreans, and at least 150 were Australian prisoners of war, who were supplying forced labor in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
After World War II, Fujinagata was restored to private ownership and recovered by building fishing vessels, merchant vessels and tankers. In 1962, it completed its first LNG carrier. In October 1967, the company was purchased by Mitsui Shipbuilding and Engineering, thus ending its long history as the oldest independent shipbuilder in Japan.
- Glusman, John A (2005). Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941-1945. Viking. ISBN 0-670-03408-8.
- Porter, Robert Percival (2001). Japan: The Rise of a Modern Power. Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 1-4021-9690-3.
- Porter, Japan, the Rise of a Modern Power
- Glusman, Conduct Under Fire