Kawasaki Shôzô was the founder of Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation, which later developed into Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., known today for its robots, motorcycles, heavy equipment, trains, and aerospace technologies.
Shôzô was born in Kagoshima in 1837, the eldest son of a shopkeeper. He lost his father when he was 15, and at 17 traveled to Nagasaki, where he found work in the port's commerce. He then opened his own shop in Osaka at the age of 27, but faced difficulties as, on several occasions, ships transporting his goods ran into trouble or sank, and lost the cargo.
He then relocated to Tokyo, and in 1873 was hired by the Ministry of Finance to investigate sea routes to Ryûkyû, and the possible commerce in Ryukyuan sugar. He helped establish regular mail routes between Tokyo and Ryûkyû, and cargo routes the following year, as he was also named vice-president of the Japan Mail & Steamship Company (Nihon Yûsen Kaisha, or NYK). Through that company, and with the support of Matsukata Masayoshi, Kawasaki had a shipyard built at Tsukiji in Tokyo in 1878.
Kawasaki Shôzô died in 1912, at the age of 75.
- Plaque at Kawasaki's birthplace, in Kagoshima.