In 1937, war broke out between Japan and China, and private industry soon felt the repercussions, in 1938, the General Mobilization Law regulated the distribution and use of many materials. Facing social and economic pressures, Matsushita decided to cooperate with the military authorities by producing military equipment in specific fields.
Matsushita feared the company's principles might suffer as a result of the many wartime changes. Beginning in March 1939, he issued a variety of directives to remind employees of their responsibilities.
And in January 1940, Matsushita gave his first management policy address-the start of an annual tradition-telling employees that, "although it is urgent to implement national policies, our tradition of peaceful con- sumer-goods production is also a serious concern." In August of that year, he proclaimed a "comprehensive mobilization for excellence in production."
"The Pacific War broke out on December 8, 1941. Resources became increasingly scarce as the war progressed, and the quality of commercial products began to deteriorate. In October 1942, Matsushita cautioned employees to avoid compromising product quality.
All industrial production was being diverted to military needs, and Panasonic was pressed to enter several fields in which it had no experience. In April 1943, the company set up Matsushita Shipbuilding Company, and in October, it established Matsushita Airplane Company.
Despite the unfamiliar fields involved, the company applied principles of mass production, manufacturing 56 wooden ships and three wooden aircraft before the war's end. Although this work was conducted on the orders of national authorities, the decision to move into military production cost the company greatly after the war.
Production at Matsushita Shipbuilding.