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Our history

For over 130 years, we have been moved by the challenge of improving people’s lives

The iron-hulled steamer Hideyoshi Maru begins ocean transport of Miike coal from Kuchinotsu (Japan) to Shanghai.
Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK Line) is founded
(OSK Line, one of MOL’s corporate predecessors).
The first Japanese immigrants

More than 180 thousand Japanese immigrants did the greatest crossing of their lives aboard a MOL vessel. The first, often recalled, took 52 days.

The arrival of Kasato Maru at Santos, on 18 June 1908, was the starting milestone of a journey and a fraternity bond. That was when the 781 brave travelers who, nearly two months earlier, had left Kobe, arrived in Brazil to work in agriculture. Mostly in the large coffee plantations in the state of São Paulo. Strangers to the language, habits, and climate, they brought with them hope and dreams of prosperity. They were sure that, here, there was a “gold-bearing tree”.

In 1920, MOL opened its office in Santos. Later, in 1935, in São Paulo; and in 1941, in Rio de Janeiro.

When the first regular route to South America was created, MOL completed seven trips — with three vessels — to transport Japanese immigrants in one year. A little before World War II, 24 trips were completed. In 1952, ship Santos Maru was launched and continued bringing Japanese immigrants to Brazil.

The relationship between Brazil and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines started with the Kasato Maru vessel, the ship of hope. It was that vessel that brought the first group of Japanese immigrants to Brazil. At the start of the 20th century, of so many transformations, we wagered, along with the then Japanese emigrants, on the future and the construction of a new destiny, in a new country made of siblings. MOL was part of the special celebrations of the 125th anniversary of Japanese immigration in Brazil.*

* Images above from the History Museum of Japanese Immigration in Brazil
The year cargo ship Kinai Maru entered service, which started the age of the high-speed diesel vessels, and covered the Yokohama-New York route in 25 days and 17.5 hours, well below the industry average of 35 days.
The first generation of Brasil Maru was built. Fast and luxurious for its time, the cargo/passenger liner operated the Japan-South America route, coming to Brazil. Many groups of immigrants entered the country on her.
Kinkasan Maru, a diesel-powered freighter, was the world’s first ship equipped with an automated engine, a revolution in marine transportation.
Oppama Maru, Japan’s first specialized car carrier, entered service.
Japan’s first methanol carrier, Kosan Maru, entered service.
Japan’s first full-fledged cruise ship, Fuji Maru, entered service, ushering in the era of leisure cruises in Japan.
Crew training school established in Manila (Philippines)
A strategic international tie-up called The Global Alliance (TGA) launched the container shipping service.
MOL and Navix Line merged, establishing the new Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.
Brazil Maru, one of the world’s largest iron ore carriers at the time, entered service.
The new MOL Technology Research Center opened.
One of the world’s largest containership, MOL Triumph, was delivered. MOL FSRU Challenger, the largest FSRU in the world, was also launched.
MOL Group Companies earned 2 important awards: “Ship of the Year” (Beluga ACE) and “Large Passenger Ship Sector Award,” (Sunflower Satsuma and Sunflower Kirishima Garner).

2018 also marked the start of operations of container shipping joint-venture Ocean Network Express (ONE).
MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.1 was launched in June 2021, a guide with medium- to long-term goals to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Read more
MOL launched a joint study on ship fuel with Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) to reduce environmental impacts and enhance the development of biofuels.

Our tomorrow

We have set three medium- and long-term goals aimed at reaching
net zero emissions by 2050
We will continue supplying the world with
energy, supplements, and resources
Based on the approach “Environmental Strategy vs. Regional Strategy”, we will achieve greater
differentiation and growth
We aim at providing
transport services with low environmental impact,
by focusing on renewable energies and new business areas, such as offshore wind power plants.