Chihiro Kanagawa was born in 1926 in Japan and graduated from the University of Tokyo. He began his career in 1950 at Kyokuto Bussan (now Mitsui & Co.), before joining Shin-Etsu in February 1962. Kanagawa held various positions throughout his career at the company, including Vice President, President, Chief Director of Overseas Business, Managing Director, Senior Managing Director, and Managing Director.
Kanagawa’s role at Shin-Etsu included overseeing operations in South, Central, and Europe America. In 1976, he played a crucial role in negotiations that allowed Shin-Etsu to buy out its partner’s full investment in Shintech, a Texas-based polyvinyl chloride joint venture. This decision ultimately helped Shin-Etsu to compete with its Japanese rivals.
As president of Shintech, Kanagawa implemented a policy of operating at full capacity and selling all products, even during economic downturns. This strategy allowed the company to continue to sell products globally and maintain strong operating rates, even when competitors in the US reduced output during economic downturns.
In 1990, Kanagawa was elected president of Shin-Etsu. Since the fiscal year that ended in March 1994, the company has consistently increased its consolidated net income for 15 consecutive years. In 2010, Kanagawa became chairman and director of Shin-Etsu. The company, which has a market value of over 6.6 trillion yen ($49.8 billion), is the most valuable chemicals firm in Japan. Since January 2011, Kanagawa also served as Chairman of the Board, Representative Director, and Chairman of the Board of SHINTECH, Inc., a subsidiary of Shin-Etsu Chemical..